Joel Presson loves the restaurant industry so much, he still works in it at age 93, performing various jobs at the Oxford Wendy’s, where he has been employed since 1989. He worked there when it was Uptown, then continued after it moved to College Corner Pike.
He got the job simply by going in all those years ago and asking if they had an opening.
“I’d been in the food business all my life. They wanted me to go into management, and I said no. I didn’t want to do that, because I’d had 60 years of it, and that was enough,” Presson said. “The biggest reason was, I don’t like to be lonesome … I love people. When you lived on a farm during the Depression years, and you didn’t have anybody visiting you except a mule, you swore then, you were going to find a place where you could be around people.”
Presson hails from North Carolina, and his life has taken him from there to the Air Force, where he was a flight instructor in the 1940s, to Florida to Cincinnati, then eventually to Oxford, where his daughter had attended Miami University. Presson moved to Oxford for good in 1988. In the intervening years, he had worked at a number of jobs in the restaurant industry.
Presson, who does everything from filling orders to carrying out trash, has become such a fixture at the restaurant that some customers come in just to see him, said Chris Rodbro, one of the owners of the Oxford Wendy’s.
Darlene Allen, who is a regular at that Wendy’s, affirmed that, saying, “The people enjoy talking to him. To be 93, he’s got a better mind than I do.”
Presson has such a strong work ethic that he was eager to return to Wendy’s while it moved from Uptown to College Corner Pike, after the original location caught fire in 2005.
“When we were rebuilding, I would see Joel walking all over the place. I would say, ‘Joel, what are you doing? And he said, ‘I can’t stand it. I don’t have anything to do. All I do is walk. You’ve got to get that place open.’ He’s a hard worker, oh my gosh … he carries big buckets of ice, he takes the garbage out, he gets all the refills, he cleans the tables, he mops the floors, he prepares salads, he does a little bit of everything,” Rodbro said.
Bob Bertini, a spokesman for Wendy’s corporate office in Dublin, Ohio, couldn’t verify whether Presson was the company’s oldest employee but said his tenure was “certainly quite a remarkable accomplishment. It says quite a lot, and we’re proud to have him as part of the Wendy’s family.”