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After the Wheel Inn in St. Johns closed unexpectedly, Swany's hired 9 of its employees

Swany's Pub and Grill in St. Johns
Posted at 9:42 AM, Nov 17, 2021

When the Wheel Inn in St. Johns closed unexpectedly last month, nearly a dozen employees had to find new jobs right ahead of the holiday season.

Several of the employees said they had no idea The Wheel Inn was going to be sold.

Former employee Autume McElroy, who had worked there for 23 years, said she felt blindsided. Sandy Piggott, who had worked there 42 years, felt crushed.

"I was definitely panicking a little bit," employee Elizabeth Johnson said.

"I was worried, but I was sad. To be honest, the whole thing. I was just sad," employee Teresa Mills said.

They were out of a job for a month.

Cue Dana Swanson of Swany's Pub and Grill, who hired nine of them without even conducting an interview.

"I knew nothing about it until it hit Facebook, too," Swanson said. "That's when their employees found out that it was for sale...When they got displaced, Christmas is coming. The holidays are here. It's just harder, the way that this happened. So, them being so close because they've worked together for three to 42 years, they're family."

Swanson said she was already on the hunt for employees to work the breakfast shift.

"When COVID started and they closed us down the first time, we were doing breakfast," Swanson said. "Then when we re-opened, a couple of my cooks had found better jobs...I did lunch and dinner and didn't do breakfast and my customers were always asking, 'When are you going to start breakfast?' and I would always tell them, 'When you going find me some cooks?'"

"We heard from so many people in the community, 'You should go to Swany's!' I got message after message," McElroy said.

Swanson agreed.

"I started my prep-cook. She wanted to start as soon as she could because she didn't have a job. The other girls, they went and talked and got ahold of the other cooks and stuff and they said that they were going to do it," Swanson said.

"She took every one of us," Mills said.

"She did. She took us all," Piggot added.

"One of the waitresses asked me why I didn't interview them, and like I told her, I said, 'Why would I?' I said, 'When you have somebody that has dedicated a few years to 42 years there, you know they're good.' It's in their blood, it's what they like," Swanson said.

Monday morning at 7 a.m. was their first breakfast shift.

"We've had quite a few people from the other restaurant come in to visit us and see us, which is heart-warming," McElroy said.

The ladies said Swanson and her staff have been extremely kind and welcoming. They're thankful.

"It's just a lot more comforting here," Johnson said.

"It brings tears to my eyes," Piggott said.

Swany's has breakfast again Monday through Friday, but Swanson said if she's able to get more line cooks and waitresses, they just might start serving breakfast on the weekends, too.

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