By Josh LaBella
For more than half a century, 52 years, Gloria Bacinello has worked as a waitress. A few weeks ago she celebrated her 33rd year working at Elm Diner.
Bacinello said she got her start working at Dutchess Diner on Campbell Avenue, which was across the street from her father’s flower shop.
“At that time, the owner of the diner said, ‘I’m putting you to work to keep you out of trouble,”’ said Bacinello. “The rest is history. [It’s been] a long time.”
For Bacinello, the best part of the job has always been the people. She said over the years she has waited on four or five generations of families.
“I started when I was 17,” said Bacinello. “I’m now going to be 70 in January.”
According to Bacinello, she worked at Dutchess Diner for a few years but wanted to work at a restaurant that served alcohol. She said she ended up working for the former (on Sawmill Road) Vallee’s Steakhouse for eight years.
A car accident she was involved in prevented her from carrying a tray and so she went back to Dutchess Diner. Bacinello worked there for about six more years but left after an incident with her boss. It was then that she found herself at Elm Diner, working part-time.
“After me being out of work for three weeks the boss there said ‘Gloria, I understand you have been out of work. One of my waitresses’s mother died. Can you help me out?’” said Bacinello. “I said, ‘Sure.’”
The job, which was only supposed to last for a few weeks, turned into 33 years. She said it seems like five. A knee replacement three years ago prevents Bacinello from working full-time, but she said she still loves the job.
“I love all my people,” said Bacinello. “My new expression is ‘I’ve got to go see my peeps.’ I can’t stay home.”
Bacinello said there are many memories she looks back upon which make her smile; many involving children. She said one of her regular’s grandkids makes sure to give her a hug when he comes in and when he leaves. She said her regular customers feel like family.
“It’s wonderful,” said Bacinello. “I can’t complain about anything.”
The waitress said she plans on doing another five years at Elm’s if she can make it.
“Why not?” said Bacinello. “I don’t want to become sedentary. When I had three months off for my [knee] I went crazy.”
Bacinello said she gets recognized by people all over town. She said it feels good to be known like that.
“Just talking about it makes me want to cry,” said Bacinello. “Everyone here has embraced me. It’s really neat.”