For the last eight years, every day at the Garden Café has been Valentine’s Day courtesy of Dianne Schneider.
“It’s Valentine’s Day year round to me,” said Schneider, who regularly greets her customers as ‘sweeties.’
Schneider started at UW-Green Bay as a baker a dozen years ago. Eight years ago she moved to the Garden Café where she is now a supervisor.
“It’s fast,” she said. “Kids can come in and get out and there’s no hold up.”
Schneider sees about 1,200 students each day at the café. She offers her trademark lines to as many as she can – like giving customers their total bill in pennies.
“I love the customers,” she said. “I love the kids in the morning. Most of them are not 8 o’clock people or 7:30 people but classes start at 8 o’clock. Welcome to the real world. You have to get up in the morning.”
Schneider works at UW-Green Bay but is actually an employee of A’viands. She sees the students as her real employer.
“These kids pay my salary. A’viands just signs my check,” Schneider said.
Besides making an impression on students, Schneider also makes her mark on employees.
“It is kind of part of a ritual every morning. I get my popcorn and I can trust that she’s going to be in a cheery mood,” said Tim Sewall, the associate provost for academic affairs at UW-Green Bay and a regular customer at the café.
“You notice when I came in today, she greeted me by calling me ‘Timmy.’ There’s only a couple of people in this world that call me ‘Timmy’ and that was my mother who is deceased now and just a couple of really close friends,” Sewall said. “I think that exemplifies Dianne and her work here at the Garden Café. She really personalizes. She knows your name.”
Schneider, who has five children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, enjoys playing a motherly role on campus.
“A lot of times when I’m at the register I say ‘come to mother’ and these kids are right here. I’m not their mother but as next to their mother as they’re going to be for the next five years.”
Of course, Schneider has plenty of motherly advice for all:
“Live life to the fullest. Never look back, always look forward,” she said.