PRINCETON — Little did 15-year-old Lonnie Greenwell know the restaurant he chose to loiter in front of as a youth would end up being the only place he would ever have to work.
Greenwell moved from Owensville to Princeton when he was in eighth grade and would “loaf around,” as he calls it. One day he was doing just that in front of Dick Clark’s Family Restaurant when he was pulled into the restaurant to help. He's remained committed to the job ever since then, commitment being a common theme throughout his life.
He would go on to graduate from Princeton High School and continue to work various jobs around the restaurant, working his way up quickly to assistant manager of the North Prince Street business. He still supports the school, attending as many games as he can, further evidence of his commitment to things. “He doesn’t miss a Princeton football game,” said Amy Bingham, a fellow Dick Clark’s employee. She said even though his walking abilities are not what they used to be, he climbs the stairs and sits at the top of the bleachers for each game.
When he turned 65, Greenwell retired from Dick Clark’s. He had been there 52 years at the time. But only two days later, he would return for his job, citing boredom around the house as the reason he didn’t want to retire. “I didn’t like sitting around at home,” he said.
At 77, his duties now mainly consist of purchasing and preparation, though he can do just about anything there is to do for the restaurant. Tracy Mowery, who works with and is distantly related to Greenwell, said he still takes on a hefty workload, preparing all of the homemade food daily, except for the pies. He makes all the soups and spaghetti sauce, breads the tenderloins and cuts the steaks. “All that type of work,” she said.
Greenwell is a veritable maintenance man for the restaurant as well, with the ability to fix many of the implements when needed, Mowery said.
He used to stay all day and run the kitchen, according to Mowery. She worked with Greenwell at Dick Clark’s in the 1990s. Currently, he works seven days a week prepping, but only stays for a little over four hours each day. Mowery and Bingham said he often sits in his truck for a few minutes before pulling away from the restaurant, and he is often there earlier than all of his fellow employees, commitment to the business never wavering.
When he isn’t at work, he watches TV, tends to his yard or spends time with his family. He has two children, five grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. Mowery said every day when he leaves the restaurant, he heads down to Greenwell’s Body Shop, which his nephew owns, more evidence of his steadfast sense of commitment, in this case to his family.