TUCKER, Ga. - Chances are you have never met anyone quite like Riley Dawkins. The main reason being, there are just not that many people out there quite like Riley.
Riley loves people, and people love him right back.
At 23 years old, Mr. Riley as he has become known, took a job as a member of the wait staff at Morrison's Cafeteria. 53 years later, Morrison's is no longer around (Piccadilly bought Morrison's in 1998), but Mr. Riley is and doesn't plan on going anywhere.
When Children's Healthcare of Atlanta purchased the Piccadilly restaurant on North Druid Hills Road where Mr. Riley was working, it seemed the perfect time for the 76 year old to ride off into the sunset and retire. After more than five decades of refilling drinks and delivering condiments why would a man approaching 80 years old want to continue to get up and drive in from Rockdale County to serve others? For many, it's hard to comprehend, but for Mr. Riley, it's simple. Go back and read the second paragraph.
Mr. Riley doesn't consider the patrons of Piccadilly to be customers. He considers them to be friends, and he treats them like that. His philosophy is so simple, yet so hard to come by these days. He says he just treats others, the way he likes to be treated. Yes, he lives by one of the simplest and most well known rules in existence, the golden one.
"It's a great joy if I make somebody's day", says Dawkins. "If I leave them with a smile on their face because I treated them well, that's where I get my energy from."
He goes on to say, "The only thing that doesn't cost anything is being nice. It's easy to be nice, and I thank God that I'm able to continue to do what I'm doing."
And for that matter, so is Piccadilly. Not only has his longevity and demeanor earned Mr. Riley celebrity status in these parts, he is just plain good for business. "He is just as kind and caring as he can be for the guest, and they pick up on that and comment on it a lot.", said Bryan Fike, the General Manager at the Druid Hills location. "And guess what", said Fike, "They return."
Dawkins new GM at the Northlake location, Paul Escarra describes him as "a legend". "He's got the personality that fits the job that he's doing almost like he was born to do it."
On a personal note my family has gotten to know Mr. Riley pretty well over the last 14 years. My kids have grown up knowing him and wouldn't think of leaving Piccadilly without giving him a hug (yes even my 13 year old).
Whether you have ever met Mr. Riley or not, there is good news. Piccadilly wants him working there as long as he is physically able, and Mr. Riley says he will continue to work as long as they let him.
So if you haven't met him, you owe it to yourself to pop in for lunch one day, and if you have, now you know where you can find him again. Either way, when you see him, please tell him Buck said hello.
For more information on Piccadilly go to their website http://www.piccadilly.com/.