Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria-Jose Subiria
It was 10:45 a.m., and April Young, a server at Houlihan's restaurant in the Atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, was ready to start her day.
With a warm and welcoming smile on her face, Young approached the table of Kathy Albertini, a Hartsfield-Jackson passenger from Pennsylvania. Young asked Albertini for her order, wrote it down and quickly entered it into Houlihan's computer system, so the cooks could begin preparing the meal.
"Oh wonderful," Albertini said of Young's personality. "Great personality."
Young, a College Park resident, said she has been a server at Houlihan's for five years and nine months.
She said she works Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 10 a.m., to 5:30 p.m., and Tuesday and Thursday from 6 a.m., to 5:30 p.m.
Young said she has five children, ages 24, 23, 18, 11 and 3. She said she starts her day with a prayer and then leaves her youngest children at school before she heads to the airport.
Though her shift ends at 5:30 p.m., Young said that at home, she remains on her feet, tending to her children, until 10 p.m.
"I am always on the go," she said.
Young said she enjoys her job because there is never a dull moment. One of the challenges of the job, she said, is balancing courtesy and promptness. "You have to give them excellent service, and still get the guests out in time to catch their flight," she said.
"She is one of our best servers, as far as giving excellent service to our customers," said Boubacar Timera, a manager at Houlihan's at Hartsfield-Jackson.
Timera, who has worked at Houlihan's for 10 years, said Young is an asset to the restaurant because she is a team player and has always had perfect attendance.
"She pulls everybody together," he said. "She is like the glue of the service staff ... it makes the environment better."
Timera said one customer, who must've been particularly impressed, gave Young a $1,000 tip in February.
According to Young, the tip came on a $90 tab after she tried but failed to convince a man that he was ordering too much food. When she brought out the last of his order, and he said he'd had enough, Young said she joked with the man, and offered him pecan pie and ice cream but the man just laughed.
"He said, 'here,' and counted out five one-hundred-dollar bills," Young said. "I gave him the biggest hug and I asked him, 'Who are you?' He just laughed."
Young said the man left another $500 on his credit card.
"That was a day I will never forget," she said, adding that it was her biggest tip to date.
She said that though she has 25 years of overall serving and cooking experience in the food-service industry, serving at the airport is unique because the atmosphere is faster paced and one is able to meet new and interesting people every day.
"I never know who I am serving," she said. "I want to make sure they have a pleasant dining experience. I want my guests to leave happy."
Young said she has been recognized for her performance at Houlihan's by Hartsfield-Jackson and the restaurant's operator.
Young said she received the Hartsfield-Jackson Ambassador Award, in 2005, at the airport's "10th Annual Customer Service Employee Recognition Program." Also in 2005, Young said a top official with the restaurant's operating company visited Houlihan's at Hartsfield-Jackson to have lunch with her, because of her outstanding job performance.
"That was an honor," she said.
"I challenge myself to be the top salesperson ... and to be a blessing to someone each and every day," said Young.
Young said she was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1965, and raised there.
She said she graduated from South Side High School, in Fort Wayne, in 1983 and began her restaurant career.
Young said she had experience in bartending and table-side dining, where servers prepare food in front of guests, before landing her job at Houlihan's at Hartsfield-Jackson.