Our Scottsdale Shakes are Made with Extra Love

vanilla shakeIn light of the holiday season, we would like to share a special story, that touched our hearts. We are so very proud of all the people in this story we are about to tell you, as they all embody the character and service we aim to provide at Johnny Rockets locations around the world.

In November, our Phoenix Franchise Partner, Rip Riva, received the following letter from Vinnie Calcagni, his VP of operations. Vinnie was so proud of how his Scottsdale Fashion Square manager, Edwin Quirino, exemplifies the true spirit of our warm, friendly and inclusive brand that he shared this letter with us:

Good Morning, Vinnie!

I believe you have had the opportunity to meet my daughter, Lizzie, before. She is 19 and has special needs. She is one of the sweetest girls and hardest workers; she just isn’t able to complete the cognitive tasks of an average adult her age. Unfortunately, when she graduated from high school, we learned that college was just not going to be in the cards for Lizzie, so she was eager to start looking for a job. We were fortunate to find her a job coach through an agency that was fabulous and guided her along that way. She helped Lizzie find her strengths and weaknesses, and decided what type of jobs she wanted to apply for.

Not surprisingly, waitressing was not on Lizzie’s list. She is not able to count money very well and her handwriting is very slow and pretty much illegible if you are not used to it. However, she LOVES Johnny Rockets and she wanted to apply there! She filled out her own application and turned it in. Not too much longer, I got a breathless phone call from Lizzie that the manager from the Scottsdale Fashion Square Johnny Rockets had called her for an interview and she needed to be there at 10 a.m. the next day. She could hardly contain her excitement! I wanted to be excited for her too, but my heart sank and all I could think of is that she has set herself up for failure. There is no way that she is going to be able to complete the tasks of a waitress. Either she isn’t going to get the job, which that would probably be the best thing, or she is going to get the job and not be able to perform and they are going to have to let her go.

How WRONG I WAS!!!! Every parent of a special needs child worries constantly and loses more sleep than you can imagine about what the future holds for them. How will they be accepted? Will people be sensitive towards them? Will they be successful?? Lizzie’s interview with your manager renewed my faith and made me believe that there are really great people in this world that care about the “Lizzies” of the world.

Now I don’t know all the details of the interview (they get a little lost in translation), but according to Lizzie, she explained what she could and couldn’t do. She was honest that she couldn’t do the cash register and probably couldn’t take orders. Most managers would be thinking, “How can I hire a waitress that can’t take orders or use the cash register?” and quickly send her on her way. Fortunately for Lizzie, Edwin had a different thought, “How can I redo the job description to fit Lizzie’s skills?” So, instead of interviewing for a waitress, she was now interviewing for a milkshake maker! He hired her on the spot.

You have never met a more proud milkshake maker in your entire life!! She LOVES her job, just ask anyone on her Facebook page. Your sales of milkshakes has probably gone up by 10% just from all her supporters that are so proud and want to come by and have a milkshake made by Lizzie! Now, I am sure she has more tasks than just milkshakes, but that happens to be the one that seems to be the most exciting and the one that shows the most evidence on her clothes when she comes home.

Vinnie, please tell your manager that during that interview he could have taken the easy way out and just gone to the next application. But, I want to thank him from the bottom of my heart for taking the chance with Lizzie. You have truly made a difference in this world.

I still didn’t get any sleep that night she got her first job, but for a change it wasn’t from worrying, it was from excitement.

Sending my best,

As you read above, Lizzie is Edwin’s new Shake Maker, and is as sweet as the Shakes she makes. She was nervous about meeting Edwin (this was her very first interview), but he made her feel at ease immediately. Lizzie was hired on the spot, and started her new job the very next day. She has fun mixing all the different Shake combinations, and loves working with her team. Lizzie told us, “They are loving, caring, and they are my other family. Edwin is friendly and funny, and teaches me about my job.”

When she’s not working at Johnny Rockets, Lizzie enjoys bike riding, going to the movies, and babysitting. When asked what her dream job would be, she replied, “Horses!” Lizzie volunteers at Camelot Farms, a facility that offers therapeutic sportsmanship for children and adults with disabilities. After working with horse therapy for kids, she gets to bathe the horses. “It’s a special bonding with the horses,” she says. “When I ride horses, I feel like I’m free.”

We’re so happy to have you on our team, Lizzie!



5 thoughts on “Our Scottsdale Shakes are Made with Extra Love

  1. I think I can honestly speak for lots of special needs parents out there when I say kudos! And thanks! The obvious care and celebration that has gone into making this amazing girl feel welcome is what we all wish for our children with special needs. Amazing!

  2. I am choked up and trying very hard to hold back the tears from spilling down my cheeks. I have a 14 y.o. daughter who has Cerebral Palsy. She would not be able to hold any employment because of the nature of her disabilities but I can relate to Lizzie’s mom in regards to the worries over how my daughter will be treated. She lives a life full of love from her immediate family but pretty isolated outside of home and school. How I wish she could have this same opportunity given to her by Edwin!
    I am going to post this on my community page on Google because Edwin is a hero. He’s a Great Person Doing Great Things!

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