Proud to Serve

By Sarah Karnasiewicz

Published on March 10, 2009

For most people, the experience of eating out doesn't often include maitre d's, headwaiters, or sommeliers. Usually, what we seek when we go to a restaurant isn't to be fawned over but to sit down to honest food served by honest people—people like Sandie Lancellotti of the Bronx, New York. I made the acquaintance of Lancellotti when I stopped for breakfast at her place of work, Quality Cafe Restaurant, a 60-seat diner in the Pelham Bay neighborhood. I went back a few weeks later to see how this Bronx-born waitress spends a typical morning. Lancellotti starts her shift at 6:15 a.m. with a quick cup of brewed coffee (which a neon sign in the restaurant's window proclaims to be the "World's Best"). By seven o'clock, the morning rush is on, and the regulars have begun to stream in: nurses, construction workers, city employees, teenagers heading to school, and more. "I love my customers," she says. "I'm just out and open, I guess. You'd never catch me behind a desk."

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