OVERLAND PARK, KS—Andrew Scelsa, promoted March 18 to assistant manager at the Sluman Road Denny's in Overland Park, is steadily becoming corrupted by his newfound power, sources within the family-style restaurant reported Monday.
"Andy used to be a pretty laid-back guy," said prep cook Julian Podriewski, who was recently reprimanded by Scelsa for wearing light-colored slacks to work. "Back when we were both cooking on the line together, I really liked him. He didn't care if the frying medium wasn't changed every shift, or if someone punched out a couple minutes early. But there's something about that gold sticker on his name tag that went straight to his head."
Scelsa, 31, regarded as a rising star in the Denny's organization, ascended to the assistant-manager position after a six-month stint as kitchen-shift supervisor. When then-assistant-manager Len Woodall announced he was leaving to pursue an opportunity with the Greendale Mall Applebee's, Scelsa was named his successor, a move the rest of the restaurant's staff cheered at the time.
"Everyone was happy when Andy got promoted," hostess Elaine Busse said. "He was one of us. Plus, we thought it would be nice to have an easy-going guy in charge for once. But right from the start, there were warning signs that the position would change him."
On March 22, the first Monday of Scelsa's assistant-managership, Denny's servers and kitchen staff arrived at work to find a note reminding them that "employees are to park their cars in the spaces furthest from the restaurant. The spaces in front are for our valued customers. Thank you for your anticipated compliance." The note was signed, "Andrew J. Scelsa, Assistant Restaurant Manager."
"I had to ask someone who Andrew J. Scelsa was," server Brett Ryback said. "I didn't know Andy's last name, and he never called himself Andrew. I figured it was some kind of joke."
During the ensuing months, Scelsa's promotion-induced authoritarian ways only grew. On April 11, he changed the restauraunt's longtime kitchen-radio-volume policy, announcing that the boombox above the dish machine may be played no louder than "3," rather than the usual "5." On April 26, he informed employees that the walk-in cooler is to be cleaned on a weekly basis, not every other week. And last Friday, he "made an example" of "certain inattentive members of the waitstaff" by waiting on customers himself and then putting the tip money in the Kids Against Kancer box by the register.
"The job has just gone to his head," server Marjorie Ennis said.
"Lately, he's had this weird thing about having all the take-home containers pre-folded," Ennis added. "On Tuesday, I spent, like, an hour and a half folding them, and I'm supposed to do it again next Tuesday. I honestly don't know what his deal is."
Also disturbing, according to those who remember the "old Andy," is his increasing concern with employees' off-the-clock habits.
"Way back when, Andy would punch out at midnight and run to the bars with us to pound a few beers before last call," prep cook Pat Cellini said. "But these days, if he overhears me talking about going out, he gets all like, 'Doesn't a certain person have to work a 7:30 breakfast shift tomorrow?'"
"A position of responsibility like this really makes you take stock of your life," said Scelsa, straightening the 'Employees Must Wash Hands' sign in the men's bathroom. "You suddenly realize that you're not only responsible for yourself, but for everyone else you work with and, ultimately, the Denny's Corporation itself. It was time I stopped being such a jerk and started doing things right."