Local Penn Station franchise No. 1 in the nation

Eatery on North Bechtle Avenue is ranked tops after a yearlong evaluation by company officials.

Based on the company’s annual rankings, the store at 2075 N. Bechtle Ave. received the highest overall marks, making it the No. 1 Penn Station franchise in the United States.

The restaurant scored 959 out of a possible 1,001 points on the company’s 2009 year-end summary, said Adam Bergeron, the store’s general manager, who started with the company at age 15.

The yearlong physical evaluation rates stores on a multitude of categories including customer service, quality control, cleanliness and personnel management.

All evaluation visits, about nine per year, Bergeron said, happen on a surprise basis, and “corporate openly tells managers they will come at the worst possible times and try to trip them up,” he added.

More than 230 Penn Station franchises operate in 12 states; only the 207 stores open for the entire year were included in the 2009 evaluation.

Bergeron, 32, runs a tight ship, but prides himself on making every workday enjoyable for his staff of about 15.

“Our store motto is teamwork. I preach to our team that we all have strengths and weaknesses. No one person is as strong as the whole team,” he said.

Bergeron’s motivation comes, in part, from the earning structure at Penn Station.

As the store’s general manager, he isn’t paid a salary. Instead, his earnings are based entirely on the store’s profits.

“What I earn is a 50/50 split with the store owner,” he said, “which I think is the greatest system ever because I’m a go-getter. I love to go out and bring business into the store.”

Bergeron has implemented his own philosophy of focusing on positive energy to make his customers and employees enjoy their experiences, he said.

“I tell my staff that you spend the majority of your life sleeping and working, so why not have fun and be proud of what you do?

“When we’re in good moods here, it comes out in every way — how we take care of the customer, the quality of the food. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to let the bad days go so we can focus on the positive.”

Contact this reporter at (937) 328-0371 or elroberts@coxohio.com.