Clinton Restaurant Employee Gets State Recognition
CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) – The restaurant industry has experienced many challenges over the past two years. A Clinton restaurant employee overcame these challenges and achieved statewide recognition earlier this month.
Natasha Johnson of Rastrelli married her husband and immigrated to Iowa from Ukraine in 2005.
Now, fifteen years later, she is the Iowa Restaurant Association Employee of the Year.
“His [was a] surprise for me. i don’t expect [it], it’s not just me, ”Johnson said. “I just do what I love to do.”
The recognition this year was the second time that a Rastrelli employee has won the award. The first time was in 2014.
When he arrived in the United States, Johnson did not know much about English. She tried to learn at a community college, but found it difficult to learn from people who did not speak Russian. Instead, she wanted to learn on the job.
A friend finally told him to apply to Rasterlli’s restaurant. One day she showed up for an application and had an interview the next day.
“I scream, happy. I tell my family ‘my god you [won’t] believe it i have [a] work, ”Johnson said. “I’m going the next morning, and this has started my journey.”
Johnson started out as a salad bar attendant, but owner Mike Rastrelli pushed her to become a waitress.
He understood Johnson’s struggle because it was the same one his parents faced over 90 years ago.
“When my father came from Italy, he didn’t speak English. He determined he was going to do it, ”Rastrelli said. “[Johnson] continued to improve his English as he learned it. You see this growth. Of course, then the customers see that.
Managing Director Daleah Utz said not only do everyone love working with Johnson, clients ask for her often.
“[Johnson] never comes with a bad attitude. She always arrives ready for work, ”Utz said. “She is always ready to give the maximum, to all customers, good, bad, anyone.”
Johnson is just one of more than 150,000 restaurant workers in the state according to the IRA.
Despite the challenges the industry has faced as a result of the pandemic, Johnson came into work every shift ready to bring a smile to the face.
“Not [be] scared and talk, ”Johnson said. “Not [be] afraid to open [your] hands, open heart with the client, it’s easy.
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