In any restaurant, having a team and management work well together and jump in to help each other is important. For Rhonda Santana, who joined the Fiddlehead Restaurant family back in June as a server, this was the first thing about the restaurant’s culture that stuck out to her.
“We really are like a big family and help each other out when we really need it,” she said.
Santana has had a long career in the food industry. Born in Porter, Indiana, and longtime resident of Westville, Santana was the manager of the beloved Wagner’s Ribs for 18 years. Eventually, she took her experience and expertise and used them to open her own restaurant and bar called RG’s Bar & Grill and has been serving up pub favorites for over a year and a half.
It was at the start of the pandemic that Santana made the difficult decision to close RG’s doors. It did, however, lead her to Aaron O'Reilly and Fiddlehead Restaurant where she has been helping to serve up American cuisine since June.
At Fiddlehead, she’s found a place where she can look forward to coming to work every day. From her coworkers to her regulars, the Michigan City restaurant has been a welcoming place for the Region native.
“Aaron O’Reilly is one of the best bosses around,” she said. “He is so fair and such a hard worker. Even when things aren’t going well like if we’re falling behind during the heat of dinner rush on a Saturday night, he keeps his calm and jumps in to help. Every week we get a newsletter, he will point out what we did really well that week and where we need to improve for next time. It’s a very constructive and understanding environment. The vibe is always positive.”
As she enters her fifth month of working at Fiddlehead, Santana has met patrons of the restaurant who have become her welcomed regulars.
“I love building up my clientele and seeing my regulars,” she said. “You get to know them and their families, what’s going on in their lives, and what they like. You get to know people, and they kind of become your family, too, in a way.”
In her free time, Santana spends quality time with her two daughters, her boyfriend, and his son. Working at Fiddlehead has given her the chance to step back and enjoy her life at home after a year and a half of long hours and late nights.
“When we opened the bar, we had to be gone so often and for so long. It was a year and a half of really long days, so it’s been nice to come home within an hour or so of when I think I’m going to be home and relax with my family,” she said.