Eileen Kunkle takes a break during her shift at Village Inn, 1103 W. Victory Way. Kunkle was voted best waitress in the Craig Daily Press’ 2011 Best of Moffat County contest. Having worked at the restaurant since 1979, Kunkle has waited on hundreds of Craig residents, as well as out-of-town visitors.

Photo by Ben McCanna

Eileen Kunkle takes a break during her shift at Village Inn, 1103 W. Victory Way. Kunkle was voted best waitress in the Craig Daily Press’ 2011 Best of Moffat County contest. Having worked at the restaurant since 1979, Kunkle has waited on hundreds of Craig residents, as well as out-of-town visitors.

Simply put — service and smiles: Moffat County’s best waitress puts people and politeness first

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With a restaurant that keeps a wide span of business hours like Village Inn, workers can get used to a variety of customers, from early birds to night owls to everyone in between.

In her three decades of waiting tables, Eileen Kunkle has seen them all and then some, but whether the people she serves are individuals there just for a cup of coffee when the doors open or a big family dinner late at night, she makes sure they never go hungry.

Kunkle, voted best waitress as part of the Craig Daily Press’ 2011 Best of Moffat County contest, has been a part of Village Inn since 1979, serving up the eatery’s pancakes, sandwiches, pies and other meals with a smile.

Kunkle said the inspiration that keeps her coming back is the people smiling back at her from the restaurant’s booths and tables.

“It’s definitely the customers, the community customers,” she said.

Although Kunkle treats a one-time customer whom she’ll never see again the same as regulars, it’s seeing familiar faces that she likes.

“There’s some people in town that have been coming around as long as I’ve been working here,” she said. “Some of them are like the fourth generation. There are a lot that come in on a daily basis. I guess some people just have more money for that than others.”

Kunkle said she serves everyone with the same enthusiasm.

“I don’t think of them as customers,” she said. “They’re people, not just a number or money coming in.”

Village Inn assistant manager Heather Costello said Kunkle is considered a “fixture” of the restaurant.

“Everybody loves her and it’s fun to work with her,” Costello said. “Even on her bad days.”

Kunkle said she tries to lead by example as the member of the Village Inn wait staff with the most experience. The only other person at the restaurant who has the same tenure as her is cook Soledad “Sally” Willison.

Willison began working at Village Inn a month after Kunkle started.

“We all get along well,” Kunkle said. “It’s just a nice place to work, it really is.”

While she has seen a constant flow of employees come and go, Kunkle said not much is different from the Village Inn of today compared to 1979, beyond the elimination of the smoking section and one new addition.

“Except for computers, it really hasn’t changed,” she said. “It’s about service.”

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