McLouth restaurant owners throw party for five employees
Thursday turned out to be a day to remember for five McLouth High School honor roll students who work at a McLouth restaurant.
Karen and Butch Bartlett, owners of Bartlett's Fried Chicken and Catering, celebrated the students' academic success with a surprise party for the students and their families after school.
The party included the youths' favorite snacks -- hot wings, jalapeno poppers, a vegetable platter, red velvet cake and a 2-gallon sized ice cream sundae.
Karen Bartlett said the teens aren't just honor roll students -- they're also responsible employees.
Four of the five take over all the jobs in the restaurant, including cooking the food and waiting on tables, as well as washing dishes, Bartlett said.
Butch Bartlett noted the students' willingness to help.
"A lot of times you call them and they'll come in, even on their days off," Butch said.
To two of the students -- Tyler Smith and Katie Lewis -- Karen Bartlett gave $50 each because they've worked at the restaurant for two years.
"I feel like they really needed to be recognized," Bartlett said. "Teen-agers don't usually work in a restaurant that long."
About the students
Here's a rundown on the students honored.
Senior Matt Conchola, who has a football scholarship to Highland Community College next year, has worked at the restaurant since November. Matt, who said this is the first year he's been on the honor roll, has lived in McLouth since he was in eighth grade. He is the son of Karen and Ronnie McMackin and Daniel Conchola.
Bri Ann Smith, a sophomore, has worked at the restaurant since May. She's usually on the honor roll. The daughter of Amy and Steve Smith, Bri Ann said she likes working at the restaurant.
"We're one big happy family," she said.
In coming to work at the restaurant, Bri Ann followed her older brother, Tyler, who as of last Thursday had worked there for "two years and seven days."
Tyler, who has always been on the honor roll, has a grade point average of 4.0.
His reasons for working at the restaurant were echoed by the other students.
"The food, the people, we laugh a lot, and fellow co-workers," Tyler said.
Justin Smith, not related to Tyler or Bri Ann, is a junior who has worked at the restaurant for a year and a half.
"I like working here, I like the food," Justin said, then added that he also liked the atmosphere. "It's very laid back, very easy. ... but the fried chicken is the best part."
Justin's parents are John and Tina Smith.
Katie Lewis applied for a job at Bartlett's on her 14th birthday, Valentine's Day 2001, and started working that same day. She is a junior who enjoys working with her friends.
"I think it's just we've all been friends forever cause we've all been on the honor rolls forever," Katie said. "It's like one of us was picked and the rest of us came."
Katie is the daughter of Karen Rogers and Sam Lewis.
Roses for moms
While the students were eating, they visited with Karen Bartlett about their lives. When one student said he was concerned about the health of a family member, Bartlett asked everyone to pray for the relative.
Spirituality is important to Bartlett.
"Every one of these kids is a professing Christian," she said. "I wrote a letter to their mothers and I gave them roses. I said thank you for loaning me your gift from God, because they are. They're good kids, they have a lot of fun."
Four of the five teens who work together -- Tyler Smith, Bri Ann Smith, Katie Lewis and Justin Smith -- also attend church together at McLouth Church of the Nazarene, said Tyler and Bri Ann's mother, Amy Smith.
Katie's mom, Karen Rogers, said she was glad her daughter was working at Bartlett's.
"This is fine," she said. "This environment and of it being here in town where she could walk to work, with the atmosphere of it up here and then being with all the kids."
Amy Smith said Bartlett's is where the family eats when they dine out. It's good food, and it's a good place for teens to work.
"They're good students, hard workers and they stay out of trouble," Smith said. "We've really been blessed."
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