I talk about food a lot. And other stuff.

But mostly food.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jim Kowalski, 1946-2013. Rest In Peace.

Eleven months ago, after staying home and raising my family for almost eight years, I walked into my neighborhood Kowalski's and asked for a job. For the next six months, I learned how great a part time deli job in my corner grocery store could be.

When I walked through the doors that day, I had a passion for food and for customer service. I had no idea to what extent Kowalski's held those same passions. All that, and they were giving their employees the opportunity and tools to become better people at work, at home, and in their community.

I have been a fanatic from day one.

Five months later, I was promoted to full time with excellent benefits to an assistant deli manager position. I hold that position now at the first Kowalski's store that was built from the ground up, in Woodbury. The corporate offices are upstairs. I see that family every day.

I only had a few conversations with Jim Kowalski, but I remember the first and the last very well.
In the first, I was the New Kid in the Deli. I was fresh and excited, and even though I got teased by some of my coworkers for doing it, I couldn't help going up to him and Mary Anne when they visited my store to tell them how much I loved my job, and how much I appreciated the company that they had created. (It's not brown nosing if you're honest, and I genuinely loved my job every day at Eden Prairie.) The Kowalskis told me to keep that spark, and I'd go far in this company.

On Monday, I'm being transferred again, and start working at the original Kowalski's store.
In the last conversation I had with Jim, I told him I was moving from Woodbury to Grand Avenue. He told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that that one was his favorite. "It's no secret. I love that store."

Thanks, Mr. Kowalski, for 30 years of vision and excellence. Thank you for building a company that people stay with for decades (and generations). Thanks for keeping good food and good citizenship at the forefront of your vision. Thank you for providing the perfect place for my passions to be focused and appreciated.

I hope I do make it far, and as corny as it may be, I hope I make you proud.

Rest in peace, Jim.  And love to your family.