Seniors cater fiscal responsibilities


Aidan Downey

Alumni Melissa Drake, Camilla Kasper, and Georgia Smith (left to right) stand in front of senior Malachi Smith after setting up food for a wedding.

Seniors are flocking to Dennis Dean Catering (DDC), a full service catering company, for work after senior Jacob Greenhill made them aware of the opportunity.

“They needed staff for busy weekends, and I thought it’d be fun to work with my friends,” Greenhill said. “I also wanted to help my friends out with some money.”

With a few outliers from Paideia and Decatur, Greenhill convinced over 20 of his friends to apply.

“I think so many jumped at the opportunity because the pay is really good, and the work isn’t difficult,” Greenhill said. “Also, they’re very flexible with scheduling; it isn’t a huge commitment.”

Watkins Buckley, the staffing manager at DDC, points to the same keys factors.

“Catering shifts pay well, and the hours are flexible enough to accommodate the school schedule of most high school students,” Buckley said. “I think it’s a mutually-beneficial relationship between employer and employee in this case. Catering also is a fantastic space within the hospitality industry; it can be either a career or a job.”

Located in Piedmont Heights in a 10,000-square-foot facility, DDC is about a 10-minute drive from Grady. The off-premise caterer supplies food, décor and cuisine for events ranging from dinners in home for families to weddings and corporate events for 1,500 people.

The wide range makes the job a diverse experience, as some events can require over 100 workers when others require only one. While DDC, named in 2001 after founder Dennis Dean, operates every day, year-round, the fall and holiday seasons are busiest, according to Buckley.

The working high schoolers share mixed feelings toward the job. While enjoying the pay, work and social benefits, some wish for more continuous pay from more events.

“It’s really confusing, and sometimes, I like it, but other times, I feel like everything is really unorganized,” said senior Sam Cook, who also works at Atkins Park Tavern on North Highland Avenue.

Senior Katie Dowd enjoys working with her friends, which she said wasn’t an opportunity when she worked at Moe’s and Joe’s on North Highland.

Senior Gerald Robison, who applied for a job after hearing about the flexible schedule and the possibility to work with friends, said he enjoys working at DDC for the money and the atmosphere.

“Everyone’s working together to get the job done as quickly as possible, and we all try to have fun while doing it,” said Robison, noting that each event’s different group makes work different and interesting.

Senior Franky Fernandez, who won the Orator yearbook’s Senior Superlative of Best Bromance with Robison, shares the same values.

“I like it a lot because you have relative control over your work hours; the staff is friendly, and the work puts you in the middle of really interesting events with a lot of interesting people,” Fernandez said.

Buckley hopes next year’s seniors fill the void after seeing the opportunity with DDC event shift work.

“Having a broad pool of people of all demographics allows us to build an all-inclusive staff,” Buckley said. “Also, the opportunity to meet new and different people is a definite positive for high schoolers as this industry offers a glimpse at society from a perspective you may not pick up elsewhere. We truly hope while in college the current high schoolers working with us will continue to broaden their horizons.”