Teen workers help diner owner weather pandemic challenges


High School Councilor Nadia Pearce, right, and Coordinator of School Counseling Carli Rocha-Reaes speak to a group of Juniors and Seniors via video conference, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Bridgeport. Conn. School counselors in many urban, high needs districts have been consumed with efforts to help students engage with their schoolwork since the pandemic hit. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — When a teenager came into his restaurant looking for a job, Nick Roussas didn’t realize his fortunes were about to turn around.

The longtime Bridgeport diner owner discovered the teen was a student at Bridgeport Military Academy, and he proved so reliable that Roussas hired three of his classmates to fulfill takeout and delivery orders. He told The Connecticut Post he’s also hired other high school students who work around their school schedules.

That has proved invaluable during a time when the pandemic has disrupted the supply chain for products and made it more difficult to find workers through regular channels such as help wanted ads.

“They can’t work overnight and they can’t use certain machinery like the slicer, but they can do everything else,” Roussas told the newspaper. “It’s part-time work and it’s perfect for them. I never had this many kids working for me before.”

Roussas began running Frankie’s Diner when he was 21 and a semester from graduating from Sacred Heart University, after his father became ill. He told the Post his volunteer work in Bridgeport and Newtown, where he lives, has brought lasting rewards.

“I have made a lot of great connections even though I didn’t finish college,” he said. “This is my college.”

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