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Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 07 June 2017 19:32

Seasonal employees provide perfect boost for downtown Port businesses during busy tourism time

    School is out for the summer, and just in time for the downtown Port Washington restaurants that rely on a season workforce  of college and high school students during the busy tourism season.
    Many of the summer workers are eager to earn some extra cash to pay for pizza and textbooks for the school year.
    “We’re so busy in the summer; our sales triple if not more. We look to those kids to help keep our business going,” said Kim Voeller, owner of Dockside Deli. “This year we were lucky, we were staffed early on. We have more applicants than positions, which never really happens. It’s a good problem to have.”
    At Dockside Deli, 16 of the 25 employees are summer workers, many of whom have previously worked at the restaurant during their summer break.  
    deli“I was panicking last summer because I didn’t have a job. It was June and there was a big help wanted sign on the door of Dockside Deli, so I turned in my application on a whim and they hired me,” said Katie Gruell of Belgium, who just finished her sophomore year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “I was really excited that I got to come back and work here again. It doesn’t really feel like work because everyone who works here are really good friends. It gets insanely busy here so the time flies. It’s a great summer job.”
    Gruell said the experience she receives from working in the service industry is priceless, while the paycheck she earns goes toward college tuition.
    “College is really expensive. All my money obviously helps pay for my studies,” she said. “But working at Dockside Deli also gives me something to do, and it helps me work on my people skills through customer service, which I think will be extremely important to me in the future.”
    Voeller said work experience is something that can’t be taught in school.
    “They really learn a lot while they’re here, which books can’t necessarily teach them. They learn real-world things that are happening, and a lot of people and social skills are developed,” she said. “They also form great friendships and grow close together because they are a team.”
    Another downtown Port Washington restaurant, Twisted Willow, also relies on the help of summer employees, who not only work in the kitchen but on the establishment’s farm in the Town of Grafton.
    “We generally work at the restaurant in the morning to get the food ready. Then we come to the farm and work until the sun goes down,” said Bradley Shelton, who recently graduated from Port Washington High School and has worked at the restaurant for several years. “When the restaurant has an off day, we’ll get a full day opportunity to work out on the farm.”
    Jill Bunting, co-owner of Twisted Willow, said “We’re always looking for dishwashers and wait staff who want to multitask. If they are interested in getting their hands dirty, we bring them to the farm. These guys are not only planting and watching it grow from seed, they are bringing the produce to the kitchen and putting it in salads and entrées. It’s so rewarding because they really become invested in your business. That’s the best compliment you can get as an owner.”
    According to Eric Willborn, who supervises the seasonal employees, the opportunity to produce and serve the food is a rewarding experience.
    “When we get to see the stuff that we’ve spent so much time and effort to grow being served at the restaurant, it really adds to our personal investment in the restaurant and in the food we’re cooking,” he said. “It’s a whole new level of involvement.”


PHOTO:DOCKSIDE DELI had a group of seasonal workers    get it through a busy day last week. From left were Ezra Bretl, Nick Bath, Ryan Liebergen, Eli Buczek, Fiona Liefer, Claire Buser and Jackie Watry.

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