Ron Jillians: The Phenomenal Five
By Michelle Tsaltsas
Seacoast Scene, Wednesday, August 25, 2010
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Scene.]
This week Sally Gray
"It feels very Italian kitchen homey," explains Marylou, describing Ron Jillians, the Italian restaurant that she's waitressed at since it opened. Located on Route One in Hampton, NH, Ron Jillians is home to the most genuine and comedic staff. Five that stand out amongst the others are Marylou, Marsha, Julie, Kim and Lauren. Although these five are fantastic, everyone working at the restaurant is amazing. These five in particular represent the face of the business most because they're on the floor all day and spend most of their work time with customers.
Julie, a waitress that has worked at Ron Jillians since its opening says, "I love working here because we have the best customers in the world. It feels like family here" She says she knows almost all of the customers that come in. "We have a lot of repeat summer customers from New York, Mass, and even Canada" Julie recalls hearing from a few over the border customers that "people in Canada recommend that if their friends are going on vacation to the U.S. to visit Ron Jillians."
If you were part of the generation that grew up in the 80's and 90's you'll know right away what the restaurant reminds you of. The waitstaff and customers all had the same response when asked to explain Ron Jillians. "Like a local Cheers," says waitress Marylou.
"Like the show Cheers, you know, you walk in and they already have the drink ready cause you're a regular," says one customer. "An Italian Cheers," said owner Ed when asked how he would explain the restaurant. And much like the famous tag-line from the 80's and 90's TV show Cheers, "Everybody knows your name."
Marylou, one of the waitresses that have worked since the restaurant opened, claims to remember every name and face that comes in. "I remember people, names and what food they order. If I see someone that comes in outside of work I always recognize them and say hi." Most of the customers are regulars either locally or during the summer, from out of state. "It has a family feel," she explains, "because everyone knows each other." The warm, friendly atmosphere leaves many newcomers feeling at home. "People who come in here for the first time feel like they've been coming here for years," she says.
One new customer, Lynn Irving from MA, said that "this was my first time here and I will definitely be coming back." What she liked about the restaurant was the experience. "The waitresses work really hard and are really nice here. The place has a casual yet upbeat scale," says Irving. Many of the adult regulars and locals that come in all know each other and sit together at the bar. One couple, Evelyn and Frank McAuley, come in 5 nights a week. "All the meals are delicious here. I've never had a bad meal," says Evelyn. "They've got the best drinks in town," says her husband Frank.
The portions are huge and the prices low. "A lot of people have two reactions when I bring the food out. First their eyes light up, and they're surprised, because the portions are so big. And then they smile and they're happy because they realize they won't have to cook for dinner tomorrow night. They'll just eat the leftovers from here, "says Marylou. "This is my workout for the day," says waitress and soon to be bartender, Lauren, "carrying these dishes out gives me big muscles." "The Alfredo dish is so big they have to serve it in a sauté pan," explains Lauren.
Lauren, a local from the seacoast area, has worked at Ron Jillian's for three and a half years. After graduating from Hesser College with a degree in Business, Lauren began working for a company in Exeter. "It was boring! I had to sit behind a computer for five or six hours a day. I wanted to be around people, I love people." After realizing she wasn't happy she came back to work at Ron Jillians. "It doesn't feel like work here. I'm friends with all the staff and customers that come in."
Ron Jillian's nighttime bartender, Marsha, is probably the most enthusiastic and comical from the bunch. Marsha was always interested in working with people. Before bartending she worked as a social worker. "I love working here because I love the people and the atmosphere," she says. Not only does Marsha entertain with serving drinks and sharing laughs, she is also in charge of the music. During the night she will always have something upbeat and fun playing, usually to match her good mood. When the other bartender, Kim, is working usually something happy yet mellow will be on.
Kim, the bartender during the day, is also a local from Hampton. Kim and Laura are the perfect match for stressed out workers coming in for lunch on their breaks. "We put everyone in a good mood when they come in for lunch. And usually, since they're at work, they need it," says Lauren. "We call each other the Lunch Ladies because we're the main two that work during this time," says Kim. Her special drinks concoction drinks are all seacoast themed. Kim's Seabreeze is the most popular. According to customers, she also has makes a fantastic Chocolate Covered Cherry. Both women are outgoing and bubbly and will brighten up anyone's day.
Although the restaurant serves mainly Italian dishes, they are not strictly an Italian restaurant. "We serve other things as well. Our seafood meals are really popular." "The most popular dish is usually one of our specials, the home made lobster macaroni and cheese." Other popular dishes include mussels and Ed, the owner's, risotto, a creamy, cheesy rice concoction.
These five women: Kim, Lauren, Marsha, Julie and Marylou are just a few of the gems working on the seacoast. All of these women are hardworking and sincere. It's rare to find a wait staff as genuinely kind as these girls are. Whether you need a good laugh, or a place to feel welcome and at home, Ron Jillians is the place to go. The portions are huge and the prices are low. Everyone on the staff, including the owner Ed, who comes out and talks to customers as well, will make you feel at home.