Red Robin hire makes athlete's dream come true

posted Mon, Nov 9, 2015 by Jon Buzby

Red Robin Christiana employees left to right are Valerie Henry, Ashley Crossan, Rachel Rhea, Denni Durnall , Charlene Waters, Kevin Decker

Ever since she was a little girl, Rachel Rhea’s favorite restaurant has always been Red Robin. So when Special Olympics Delaware asked her if she’d be willing to volunteer as a hostess during the organization’s annual Tip-A-Cop event at the Christiana Red Robin, Rachel was more than willing.

“I love their ‘yum’ food and the people there,” Rachel, 21, explained. “My favorite meal is the bacon cheeseburger.”

It didn’t take long for the general manager and employees at the store to realize the personable and bubbly young lady had a knack for greeting people and making them feel welcome.

“Our core values for all our employees are honor, integrity, seeking knowledge and having fun,” store manager Denni Parrish explained. “Rachel showed all those core values within 10 minutes of being in the building.”

It wasn’t long afterward when Parrish approached Rachel with a part-time job offer as a weekend hostess.

“I was very excited when they offered me the job,” Rachel said. “And then I started crying happy tears.”

Like any parent would be, Rachel’s mom, Pam, was ecstatic. But unlike many other parents, it was also an emotional experience for Pam, realizing the opportunity her daughter was getting to have a position where she is the first point of contact for customers.

“We are very grateful to Red Robin and Denni for giving Rachel the opportunity to work and feel like she has a purpose and is contributing to the community,” Pam said.

The Christiana restaurant raised $2,171 during the day-long Tip-A-Cop event held on Oct. 24 when local police officers served as guest servers and athletes greeted customers. All tips to the officers were donated back to Special Olympics Delaware. A total of $6,527 was raised by all three Delaware Red Robin restaurants. But just as importantly, so was awareness of the abilities of people with disabilities.

“The athletes bring such enthusiasm to the restaurant it genuinely makes you feel like you’re part of something special,” said Parrish, who has been part of seven Tip-A-Cop events. “I look forward to Rachel teaching myself, her team members and the guests that we are all the same no matter how different we are.”

Rachel’s first day was on Nov. 1 and it was a resounding success.

“I enjoy meeting people,” she shared. “And I love welcoming them to Red Robin!”