By Jan Carabeo
CHERRY HILL, NJ (CBS) – It’s a landmark anniversary for a worker at a landmark New Jersey diner.
She’s put exceptional service on the menu for 50 years.
With laughter on her lips and coffee forever at her fingertips, Joan Browning serves not customers, but friends at Ponzio’s Diner in Cherry Hill.
Joan knows orders by heart, even if they haven’t shown up in years. More than that, she knows their stories.
It’s what happens when one works in a single spot for 50 years, but Joan isn’t counting.
“It’s just me. I don’t like to be made a fuss over. I do what I do because I like it. I love the people.”
Joan started working at Ponzio’s in 1966.
She watched her now boss, John Fifis, grow up and grow in to the second-generation family business.
He says, “Joan has been here longer than I’ve been alive.”
The Fifis family is now celebrating her golden anniversary, complete with signs not only outside the diner on Route 70, but at nearby bus stops as well.
A familiar face, that many have come to call family.
John Fifis says, “Their luggage is still in the car, and they come back, and the first person they come back, they come to Ponzio’s and they want to say hi to Joanie. “
“There’s just one word for it. It’s special. And we’re fortunate.”
Joan has worked every shift over the years, the last 25 of them on the morning shift, behind the front counter and with a group of loyal longtime customers.
Harvey Shultz, a customer, says, “It’s the only reason I come here, really.”
Stuart Cohen adds, “Starts my day off well. She’s a good friend, a good lady.”
Even now, at 75, and after two knee replacements, Joan says she does not plan on retiring soon.
Instead, she’ll keep doing what she’s done for five decades and has suggested others do their entire lives.
“Just be nice, just be nice. And do smile, do smile that means a lot.”