‘Best server in Bermuda’ retires after 41 years
Hamilton fixture the Hog Penny said goodbye yesterday to “the best server in Bermuda”, who has retired after a 41-year history with the bar.
Phil Barnett, the president of the bar's owner, Island Restaurant Group, said Joanna Wellman, then Easton, the pub's longest-serving employee, joined the Burnaby Street institution in 1973 as a “vivacious, vibrant, and exceedingly friendly 24-year-old young lady”.
Ms Wellman was treated to a special party at the pub packed with friends and colleagues, as well as David Burt, the Premier, who spent some time behind the bar in his younger days.
Ms Wellman said: “The part of my job I loved the most was meeting and talking with the customers who came in from all around the world.
“I loved learning about their cultures and getting intimate with people.
“I also loved to tell them about our country.
“I am still friends with many of the customers I met over the years. That's part of the secret of my success — being friendly.
“They all used to call me Mama Jo because I had that mothering way about me.
“You have to go that extra mile and have that gracious touch. They looked at me as warm and down to earth.”
Ms Wellman, who retired as restaurant lunch manager at the bar and restaurant on June 2, encouraged young Bermudians to consider careers in the hospitality industry.
She said: “It is a good career — it does take time and hard work. You have to have patience and you have to do it with a smile.”
Mr Barnett said Ms Wellman was “quick, strong and efficient”.
He added: “Joanna Easton soon ran circles around all the other servers and out-hustled, outworked, and outlasted all other staff.
“It always amazed the myriad customers from tourists to locals to the various stationed military officers that her small hands could carry so many steins of beer at once with a gracious charm, easy smile, and to a ‘T', politeness,
“Joanna was considered by one and all to be the best server in Bermuda.”
Ms Wellman left the Hog Penny to help Brian Hetzel open the Atlantic Oyster House, where she worked for five years.
But she returned to the Hog Penny in 1987 and never left again. Ms Wellman was promoted to lunch manager in 1999 and Mr Barnett said she taught the staff “the right way to provide exemplary service”.
Mr Barnett said that Ms Wellman charmed presidents and prime ministers and served Hollywood stars.
They included George Bush Sr, a former US president, Margaret Thatcher, a former British Prime Minister, Catherine Zeta-Jones, a top Hollywood actress and Betty White, an American actress and comedian,
Mr Barnett said: “No matter who you were when you came in, by the time you have been wined, dined and charmed by the inimitable Mrs Joanna Wellman, you would leave feeling like you were the king or queen of the world.
“That was Joanna's magic. She made every single one of the guests of the Hog Penny feel like they were the most important customer in the place.”
The Premier got behind the bar at the Hog Penny last night and reminisced about when he worked there as a bartender in the early 2000s.
Mr Burt said: “She is wonderful, she is the best of Bermuda. It is my honour to be here.”