Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

April 7, 2013

Tim Preston: Spinning signs, speedy deliveries and possibly a place to smoke: 4/7

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — This won’t be the last time I confess to being an example of what Mr. Cobain called “easily amused,” and I’ve often commented about my appreciation and admiration for people who have to put on a costume or spin a sign on the sidewalk as part of their professional obligations.

But, if you happened to be driving along 13th Street in Ashland during the lunch zone on Tuesday, you had a chance to witness a slice of greatness from some guy in front of Little Caesar’s. I don’t know who he was, but he was putting the extra spin on his board and doing a few moves I’ve never even seen before while interacting with passing motorists like myself. He had headphones on and I thought to myself, “I don’t know what that guy is listening to, but I need a copy.” Whoever he was, he put on a great show and I’ll put him right up there with the guy in the gorilla suit in front of Domino’s last summer.

I should explain. I appreciate these folks because they face what I consider to be tough task for far too little reward, and there’s more than a few of us out here who would simply be too shy or scared to death worrying about who might see us to even tackle the job. I’ve often even wondered if sidewalk duty and other on-site-outdoor marketing jobs were some kind of internal punishment for showing up late for work, or if you get paid a little extra to do it.

I mean, I’ve had a lot of weird jobs through the years, but none involved any form of dancing for the amusement of others if I expected to get a paycheck. If I ever had to do the job, I imagine I would have about as much enthusiasm for it as the poor anonymous soul I saw wearing a giant chicken costume on behalf of a local pawn shop last year. I admired that person for doing the job, but the sheer misery clearly shined through the full-body-yellow-feathered uniform of the day.

This translates in a couple of ways — most easily to the fast-food workers I encounter who act as if I’m really ruining their day by being there. Some do that same job for the same pay, but pull it off with a smile and a pleasant approach, and others use that positive approach to make me genuinely glad I chose that place to spend my money. I recently listened to a small group of workers from a local “upscale” restaurant griping about their job responsibilities and “lousy tips” — mere moments after I witnessed a crew at my nearby Waffle House out-hustle every one of them, on every level, in half the time.

It made me more than just a little crazy.

Do I truly want to know if the person who handed me that chicken sandwich genuinely considered it a pleasure to do so? Maybe not, but I appreciate the extra effort when they make me even consider the question.

My Dad’s special

I feel guilty about this one. My Dad’s Pizza opened a new restaurant in Boyd County a few months ago, and I haven’t eaten there yet even though I pass by the place a couple of times every day and I’ve never had anything from the menu I did not enjoy.

Mark Pratt, a member of the family team that runs the restaurant inside Kyova Mall as well as at 635 Bellefonte St. in Flatwoods, didn’t hold that against me, however, and called to let people know they are running a “customer appreciation” special through the end of the month.The folks in our advertising department get a little crazy when I start listing prices, so I will just quote Pratt, who said they have “a heckuva deal” on the largest version of the excellent Libwich sandwich. They also have a great tax-included price for the 15-inch pizza with two items.

If you don’t know what a Libwich is, that alone is enough reason to give My Dad’s Pizza a call.

The Boyd County restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and the Flatwoods shop is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until midnight Friday and Saturday.

I asked Pratt how business has been at the new store since they opened in January and he said, all things considered, they have been well received in the community. “A lot of people still don’t realize we have delivery,” he noted, just before hinting the family is serious about finding a suitable location for its next business venture somewhere within Ashland’s city limits.

For more information or to place an order for delivery or pickup, call the Boyd County location at (606) 928-3237, or dial 836-8165 if you’re closer to Flatwoods.

Got insurance?

I enjoy a good success story and was smiling last week as I read about a new business in Catlettsburg, Almeida Insurance Agency.

Kim Jenkins at Morehead State University’s Ashland Small Business Development Center wrote about Lee Almeida approaching her office for advice at the end of last year, saying: “For the past eight years, Almeida had sold insurance for large insurance companies. He had always dreamed of one day opening his own insurance agency.”

During strategy sessions with Jenkins, Almeida discussed basic start-up issues such as license/permit requirements, types of business structures, start-up costs, income potential and overhead expenses before starting the process of researching possible locations for his insurance agency. Shortly after the new year, he leased office space in Catlettsburg, installed signs, “opened his agency and began underwriting policies for American National Insurance Co.,” Jenkins reported.

Almeida Insurance Agency offers insurance policies for auto, home, classic cars, renters, life, health, disability, cancer, motorcycle, ATV, travel campers and boats.      Almeida has worked in the insurance industry since 2005, and pledges his new independent agency is “dedicated to serving the community’s insurance needs.”

Based on his own experience, Almeida’s agency remains open during the lunch hour. “My eight years in the insurance industry taught me that many customers prefer to handle their insurance needs and make insurance premium payments during their lunch hour,” he said.

Almeida was born in Cuba, raised in New Jersey and served as a military police officer. During his stint in the military, he spent time in Korea, Germany and Honduras, and has since worked for the Federal Department of Corrections and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. His wife of 12 years, Cathy, is an assistant at Almeida Insurance. They live in Summit and have six children ranging in age from 9 to 21. They are members of New Beginnings Church of the Nazarene in Cannonsburg.

 Almeida Insurance is at 10019 Mayo Trail Road in Catlettsburg, near the PNC Bank on U.S. 23. The agency is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and closes each day for lunch between 1 and 2 p.m. For more information, email leealmeida@windstream.net or call (606) 739-9373.

Where there’s smoke?

It was a private conversation so I can’t share too many details, although I do have a question to pose for public response.

A restaurant owner in Boyd County is considering the addition of a small section specifically for smoking customers and asked my opinion about such an investment. So, I’m asking people who smoke and enjoy eating in local restaurants what they think about the idea.

Not to be mean about it, but I suppose I’m really not seeking the opinions of nonsmokers on this one.

I am asking, “If you smoke, would you support a local restaurant willing to cater to you and provide a place to have a cigarette before, during or after your meal?”

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.