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In a departure from its tra­di­tional “Employee of the Week” recog­nition, A.J.’s Café  has begun fea­turing employees’ favorite cus­tomers as “Cus­tomer of the Week.”

The café now rewards cus­tomers with a sign and a com­pliment above the ice cream station. The new addition encourages a more lively work atmos­phere and better com­mu­ni­cation with cus­tomers, Student Manager senior Anna Goodwin said. In addition, A.J.’s has a limited amount of employees to rec­ognize, which con­tributed to the decision to branch out to cus­tomers.

“We thought it would be a nice change to engage the employees in some­thing that they choose,” Goodwin said. “We work at a college campus. Inter­ac­tions with cus­tomers are not going to be like in a normal coffee shop in a big city. I think that’s why people like working at A.J.’s so much, because they get to serve their friends, and that makes for a better inter­action.”

Employees nom­inate cus­tomers in a private Facebook group for A.J.’s staff members. The cus­tomer of the week is then chosen from the nom­i­na­tions via a random number gen­erator.

The winner gets bragging rights.

“They get a sign,” Goodwin said. “Their face is seen by the rest of campus — so people will finally know they’re not just some ter­rible person. And they get to show their friends.”

Sophomore Joshua Pradko was recently the cus­tomer of the week. He was nom­i­nated by senior Matthew Katz. When Katz acci­den­tally knocked over the tea bins twice while closing the coffee shop, Pradko helped pick them up.

“I nom­i­nated him, because he’s just one of those people who always makes you happy,” Katz said. “He’s always a burst of pos­itive energy.”

Pradko was appre­ciative of the recog­nition.
“It’s cer­tainly a tremendous honor,” he said.

Katz praised the cus­tomer of the week feature.

“I think it gives cus­tomers an incentive to be patient with us,” he said. “And it’s nice to acknowledge people who go out of their way to make our day better, too.”

Goodwin offered advice for any cus­tomer who wants the honor.

“I’m really sassy, so whoever can keep up is usually my favorite kind of cus­tomer,” she said. “And you always have those cus­tomers who under­stand and respect the fact that you’re doing your best in rushes.”

Pradko reit­erated the impor­tance of politeness: “Being really nice to the employees will probably help.”