Business Pensacola

Varona tells employees good bye and thank you

April 3, 2014

Note: Steve Barnes sends in articles occasionally for this blog. His focus has been sports, but he sent me this on Robert de Varona’s final meeting with his employees.

Robert de Varona hosted on Tuesday a dinner at O’Brien’s Bistro for his former employees and their families. In fact, it was not former employees, it was a family.

“I never considered him my boss,” one former employee said. “He is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a father.”

During the dinner Varona addressed the group to update them on the latest news of the restaurant’s departure. He has retained an attorney and filed suit against the City. He was informed he had until midnight Wednesday to have all of his equipment out of the airport, even though his lease stated he had until May 31.

“I have filed suit against the City,” he said to applause for those attending. “I did not want to, but I felt I had to do it.”

People were happy at the news that Varona’s was not going gently into that good night. But they were elated by one other aspect of the evening — the chance to be together again.

There was plenty of laughter at the event. There were plenty of old stories being bantered about. Jokes about the quirks of co-workers were retold. But, there were also more than a few tears shed. No one knew if, or when, they’d ever be together again.

As the gathering came to a close, one employee sat in her seat steadfast to make the evening continue.

“I don’t want to go,” she said between tears. “I don’t want to leave these people. I don’t want to leave my family.”

One by one, they did leave. Hugs were abundant. Phone numbers and email addresses were exchanged. People told one another how much they meant to one another, how much they loved one another and how much they already missed one another.

Just like a family. The Varona family.

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  • Jeff April 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Drew carries Mayor water.

    “Nothing to see here–move along. It’s all for the greater good…”

  • Keith Seamons April 3, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    Dear Drew,in answer to your comment, ” ‘phone numbers and emails were exchanged. you can’t really call it family….’.”. The info being exchanged was, by far, between employees that worked opposite shifts and really do want to keep in touch. I don’t believe you were there personally…?

  • steve April 3, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Right on, Skip.

    Even if over-dramatic….hasn’t this entire airport concession process been over-dramatic. So it seems fitting

  • skip vogelsang April 3, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Well done Drew — you found a way to see the cup half empty.

  • Drew April 3, 2014 at 9:33 am

    “Phone numbers and email addresses were exchanged.”

    You can’t really call yourselves family if at least didn’t have each others numbers. This is only a little over-dramatic…