Our Maria!

Anyone in the restaurant business will tell you that one of the biggest and most common challenges of running a successful operation is staffing. Finding the right people for the right positions in your business is difficult in any endeavor, but in the food service industry it seems especially so. I always say, "You have to kiss a lot of frogs..."

We don’t actually kiss frogs at W. D. Deli, but we do tend to hire them. Sometimes they turn into princes and princesses. Sometimes they don’t.

But the little jewel I want to tell you about today didn’t come to us as a frog. She came in as a princess - from Day One.

A few months ago our baker Paul told us that he would be leaving W. D. Deli. Though he was a great baker for us, his real passion was education, and he was able to find a full-time posiiton as a tutor/teacher. While we were happy for Paul, we were sad for ourselves. Mr. Beers threw an ad up on craigslist.org for the baker’s position and the very next day a lovely lady walked in with this:

Maria not only applied for the job, she auditioned by bringing in a couple of plates full of delicious treats - homemade oatmeal trail mix cookies and lemon pound cake and brownies. The deli crew feasted on sweets all day. There was no need for us to entertain the idea of other applicants for the position of baker. It had to be Maria. Sweet Maria.

These days Maria comes in every morning at eight o’clock and starts baking cookies. Once the cookies are cool enough to be handled she starts filling the cookie jars. But the jars have to be refilled several times throughout the day. Especially the jar that’s labeled Cookie Of The Month. W. D. Deli always has ten different kinds of cookies for sale. One of those ten is the Cookie Of The Month - and that’s Maria’s chance to get creative. September’s cookie is Coconut Cream Pie, and she’s already brought us samples of October’s cookie - a Trick Or Treat Cookie (made with candy corn). Last night she went home got inspired and baked and then she sent us a photo (on our phones) of a new brainstorm - an Almond Joy cookie with a chocolate glaze. And then today she walks in with a plate full of those things for us to try...

Maria. Sweet Maria. Last week a lady came into the deli to place an order for a whole cake. "Can you write on the cake?" she asked. "Sure," the cashier replied, "What would you like it to say?" Somewhat hesitantly she answered, "It’s for a birthday. It’s my birthday. So I guess ‘Happy Birthday To Me.’" The cashier gladly took her order and told her that the cake would be ready for her to pick up on Saturday. On Friday Maria made the cake and decorated it beautifully.

But something about the whole scenario bothered Maria. Friday night I got this text from her:

I was telling my husband John about the Happy Birthday To Me lady. We both agree that it’s really sad, and we’re worried about her state of mind. It just seems like something that a suicidal person might do. Would you pick up a Happy Birthday card for her and give it to her (signed from the family at W. D. Deli) with the cake, please? I’ll pay you back for the card on Monday. It’s just that we all need to know that we are cared for. And maybe by doing this we can make a positive difference in her life... Oh yeah, and John said he’d pay for her to have lunch.

What a sweetheart! What a privilege and a pleasure to get to work with someone who not only does a great job, but considers the happiness and well-being of the people she comes in contact with - whether directly or indirectly. Maria puts a smile on many faces many times a day. What a gift she has been to us. We got the Happy Birthday To Me lady a card, and everybody signed it. We enclosed a gift card to cover her lunch. Maria was happy. The Happy Birthday To Me lady was happy. And we continue to be happy. - - Uh-oh. I’ve got to go. I think she just took some fresh cookies out of the oven. That’s when they’re the best. But you knew that.


  1. Beautiful story...thanks Maria and John and thanks Bobo for sharing!!

  2. Super sweet story Michael... i hope Maria knows our entire group really enjoyed her yummy cookies and treats during our Labor Day weekend in S. Padre! Good to know she does cakes too!

  3. Great post, Miguel! Can't wait to try the Coconut Cream Pie cookie. When do they come out of the oven?

  4. Very sweet story, Michael. Sounds like Maria is definitely a keeper!


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