(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Paolo Guerreri, manager, Alesci’s of Shoregate)
Alesci’s of Willowick started back in 1972 when my father, Alfredo Guerrieri and my uncle, Antonio Guerrieri, bought the franchise rights off the Alesci’s of South Euclid guys. They both worked at other Alesci’s stores, and that’s where they got their experience and their drive to open their own store. I believe there were six other Alesci’s stores, and the idea of owning their own business was a lifetime dream of theirs.
They liked the idea of Shoregate in Willowick because the location was between former two big retail giants of Jotes (currently Marcs) and Pick-N-Pay (then Reider’s Stop-N-Shop and currently Giant Eagle) with plenty of parking and located on a main road.
Except for cigarettes, we sell almost everything that you would find in a regular grocery store or convenience store. What separates us from most stores is our deli and cheese section, as well as our hot food counter and our bakery. We make all of our bread, rolls and pizza dough from scratch every day in our bakery.
We haven’t changed much over the years. We’re old school. The original owners are still here and work part-time every day. We still use pen and paper to take all orders, and there is no laptop in the store. We have a Facebook page but no website.
We hire people who have experience, and we also hire folks with zero experience and train them. We hire people with criminal records because we believe that everyone deserves a second chance. Between part-time and full-time employees, we have around 25 people here.
We donate gift cards and gift baskets, cash and food to different members of the community and to benefits in the community several times per week.
The biggest challenge we currently face is the online world because the owners don’t know that world, and they don’t want to know that world; so, we can’t sell anything online. And our rent is almost $10,000.00 per month, which might prevent us from renewing our lease in seven years.
I’m not sure if we would just close up shop or move in seven years, but for sure we will not be at this location, which is a shame considering that we have paid rent on time for 46 plus years. I’m not sure what Shoregate’s future holds since there are empty stores and half of the land was sold to build an urgent care, liquor store, bank, and houses.
I’m inspired by tradition. I have worked here since I was eight years old. It’s all I’ve ever done; it’s all I know. I love the people, the hours, and the work. It’s very fulfilling and satisfying.
I don’t think people realize that the owners are almost 80 years old, that the managers put in 70 hours per week, and that someone is always here 24/7 cooking, baking or cleaning. And that the bread and pizza dough are made from scratch EVERY DAY!!! We have been in business for 46 years; so, we must be doing something right.
Even when I am not at the store, whether at home with family, out with friends or on vacation, I am always thinking about the store. I just can’t help it. I may not be the owner, but I treat the place like I am the owner.
The Cuyahoga East Vocational Education Consortium (CEVEC) is a consortium of 17 schools that offers career-oriented curriculum, job training and mentorship to special-needs students by focusing on their preferences, interests, needs and strengths.
On Oct. 21, CEVEC hosted its annual mock interview day at the Hilton Garden Inn, Mayfield Village. Three employees from HGR (CEO Brian Krueger, Human Resources Assistant April Quintiliano and me) attended to help 150 students with their interviewing skill.
There were two mock interview sessions with employees from 50 Northeast Ohio companies, such as McDonalds, Rockwell Automation, Arby’s, Cintas, CVS, Dave’s Supermarkets, Giant Eagle, Hilton Garden Inn, Jergens, Panera Bread, Toyota of Bedford, and others. During the lunch break, CEVEC students and staff presented on a range of topics, including the myths and facts about hiring people with disabilities.
Students showed up smartly dressed, prepared and confident. Here’s a snapshot of the 10 students that we interviewed in the morning session. We welcome you to get to know them as we did, in their own words:
Lisa from Mayfield: works at Menorah Park doing housekeeping (washing beds, trash and bathrooms) and at Pearl’s Place (wipe down tables and stocking); likes to read and play with her Bichon Frise; she cut coil and roll, scales and seal bags at CEVEC vocational program; favorite place she worked is at The Cleveland Botanical Garden during summer; least favorite was Old Navy because of complicated folding techniques; she’s good at time management and is a fast worker who completes tasks and is flexible to multitask; at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank she made lunches for people in need in an assembly line and helped kids who needed help completing their tasks
Cathy from Chagrin Falls: junior in H.S. in afternoon and CEVEC during the morning, which sends her to be a chef’s helper at Rockwell Automation; she works for her dad at Valley Marketplace weighing and pricing, stocking, and wiping the table; she’s good at drawing people and has gotten awards; she likes fashion and dress up, reading, and writing; her favorite class is English since she’s a good reader
Paul from Cleveland Heights: favorite place to work was Food Bank because he had a place to go; favorite subject was science; hobbies are watching and playing sports and his favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers; if he could do any job he would work at the Food Bank because he made sure the food was safe and liked being in the kitchen
Andrea from Richmond Heights: graduated in 2014; favorite class was math because she likes numbers; fave jobs were The Mandel Jewish Community Center where she sorted and hung clothes and Ursuline College because cleaning tables and chairs and recycling were a lot of fun; she likes music and computers and is best at cleaning up; she feels that she needs to improve her spacing and gets in the way of people; if could pick any job to do and get paid she would work at Ursuline
Anastasia from Shaker Heights: fave class is math and science and her least fave is math because it’s too easy; she likes going outside and likes basketball and watching the Cavs; favorite place to work was Shaker Theater cleaning theaters, bathrooms and games, and taking tickets; her least-favorite job was piece worker at CEVEC because it was hard but she’s gotten better; she was good at what she did at Doubletree Hotel stripping beds but needs to improve working in a team; she would like to work at Giant Eagle when she graduates
Jordan from Mayfield Heights: graduates in 2017; likes school and math is favorite subject with language arts his least favorite; he plays football as a safety and wide receiver and plays snare drum in the band; he works at Hillcrest Hospital in the surgery center transporting oxygen; he likes moving stuff around and restocking; he needs improvement on paperwork and filing; you can count on him to be there every day and be dependable; he got his wish because he wanted to see the Indians play the Cubs
Ja’Eona from Mayfield Heights: loves school and hates missing it; loves learning and it makes her happy; the other kids are her least favorite part because they get too wild; her favorite class is history, she runs to it and likes to hear what happened in America; she sings the National Anthem at school assemblies; her mom owns Martha’s Place and works with disabled men in their 50s and 60s and her dad is the pastor at Greater Fellowship Assembly, she hopes to take over both of their jobs; while she was eating at McDonalds, the owner offered her a job; prefers eating at McDonalds over Burger King but Wendy’s nuggets are better; she’s always on time and learns fast and is an asset because she can do it if she puts her mind to it; her area to improve is her attitude because she has downfalls and gets a little mad and can take it to a further extent but knows how to be professional and learned to be more calm; she would rather work by herself because she can do it better; watching her dad preach taught her skills and how to speak in front of people; she likes the medical field and would want to go into phlebotomy since blood doesn’t bother her
Nina from Mayfield Heights: graduates i2018; doesn’t like school; fave class is art and least is math and science; she practically failed physical science and has to retake it; she’s in the fuse club where they get together and do different thing, such as a Halloween party and costume contest; an animal shelter was her favorite place to work where she cleaned litter boxes and dog cages; she’s good at following directions and is nice to people; she likes to read books like The Hunger Games and fan fiction every day
Randall from Bedford: is a cashier and cleans and stocks shelves at Michaels; plans to go to Tri-C for a two years then transfer to a four-year college for a degree in nursing; science is favorite class because he likes to discover the chemicals and dissect a frog and pig and mouse; Pizza Hut favorite place to work because he likes pizza and was busy every day; there was good teamwork at McDonalds and they really liked him there because of his personality; he’s good at being a cashier, cleaning the lobby and restocking; he could improve at the register
Amari from Cleveland Heights: graduated in 2016; got job training through CEVEC in food prep at Menorah Park; fave classes were English, science and math; fave job was Food Bank because he portioned foods onto trays and enjoyed that; working in the dairy department at Dave’s was his least favorite because it was cold; if he could do any job, he would work at a restaurant in the kitchen and cook and use his skills with utensils; he enjoys TV, video games and music
Maybe one of these students is right for your organization. We found two long-term employees through CEVEC’s mock interview program. They have been an asset to our organization.
I talked to HGR Partner and CEO Brian Krueger about his involvement with CEVEC. He told me that he first heard about CEVEC eight to nine years ago from family friend Sandy Seigler who said that he helps kids who, primarily, are communication-challenged but who are productive, resourceful, good workers. Krueger was asked to conduct mock interviews twice per year for two to three years and attended graduations and open houses. Then, he found himself needing to fill some positions at HGR. Our first hire from CEVEC, Jeremy, worked in the tear down area to re-itemize or scrap items. Now, he floats to different areas throughout Operations, including incoming, set up, tear down and scrap. Derrick cleans restrooms, sweeps aisles and assists in tear down. Krueger says, “I encourage business owners to look within their organizations to see if there are positions that can utilize these students’ skill sets.” Most of them have experience in food service, mailroom, restocking, carrying and moving, or tear down.