Golden Corral employee honored for exceptional customer service

Jeffrey Bryant is surprised by family and friends at Golden Corral on Thursday, Aug. 22.

Golden Corral employee honored for exceptional customer service
August 29
03:00 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

When Jeffrey Bryant walked into a darkened meeting room at Golden Corral at Hanes Mall, he thought he was going to an event to honor his mother, Elaine Bryant. Instead, he was surprised to find that he was the guest of honor.

Lashonda Saddler founded Sweet Sondays as an organization to honor unsung heroes, people with a strong work ethic and who are the epitome of great customer service, but are often under the radar when it comes to being acknowledged for their kindness and service to others. Saddler, her husband, Patrick, and sons Zaren and Zani, frequently eat at Colden Corral and she said every time she saw Bryant, “… he was always joyous, efficient, patient – treating everyone like they are the most important person in the door.” That is why she chose Bryant to be honored by Sweet Sondays.

Saddler said it was easy setting up the surprise party for Bryant. A manager helped her get in touch with Bryant’s mother, Elaine, and it took off from there. On Thursday, Aug. 22, the room was filled with family, friends and church members when an unsuspecting Bryant walked in the door. He embraced each person as he walked around the room and then Saddler led him to a table at the front for the festivities to begin.

Saddler introduced her son Zaren to read a poem that he had written for Bryant and Zaren said he “represents all the kids who come here to say thank you.” Then Saddler remarked that in 2003 Bryant was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to relearn how to do everything, from talking to walking. His courage and positive attitude helped him to overcome this challenge. Francis Traver, Golden Corral General Manager, and Dave Gronewaller, CEO, spoke briefly about Bryant. Traver remembers meeting Bryant when he came for a job interview over nine years ago and said that Bryant told him, “I want you to give me a chance.” Since he was hired, he has only not missed a day of work, but has become well known for his friendliness, positive attitude, and is an inspiration to his coworkers. He consistently goes above and beyond what his job requires. Traver said, “He is the embodiment of what we want as customer service.”

Gayle Swain spoke to the group, noting that Bryant was her “little cousin, so my job was to torture him.” She said that unlike most teens, Bryant was a “Polo-shirt, designer-jeans-wearing LL Cool J” kind of cool kid. She shared a photo of Bryant dancing with his 90-year-old Nanny at a family wedding and said, “He thought he was cool but she shut him down on the dance floor.” She said he is now a “new and improved” Jeffrey, thoughtful and caring. “We’re proud of you and happy that other people notice the good that is in you.”

Ben Piggot, retired from the Recreation and Parks Department, also spoke about Bryant and gave him a medal, saying, “He’s a man’s man … he’s an MVP, a top-line player. He has concern about everybody that comes in this place.” He also gave him a t-shirt and poked fun at his devotion as a Dallas Cowboys fan.

Bryant then had his turn to speak and as he began to thank the attendees, he became emotional and took a few seconds to gather his thoughts. He said, “Thank you to my mom, aunt, cousins and the rest of my family because I wouldn’t be here without you.”

When asked if he was surprised, Bryant responded, “Very surprised and happy. I thought it was for my mom.”

Dave Gronewaller, CEO, summed up Bryant’s celebration: “A lot of people love you … you make a difference in hundreds of people’s lives.”

Sweet Sondays is looking for more people to honor who have exhibited exceptional customer service. Saddler is also looking for sponsors and donations to cover future celebrations. She is working toward getting her organization certified as a 501(c)(3). For more information, call 270-994-5721 or email

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