Subway owners embody customer service, servant leadership

Published 7:10 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Between a Lowndes County Children’s Policy Council Meeting and a Chamber of Commerce Mayor’s gathering on Dec. 7, I stopped by Subway on Alabama Highway 97 in Hayneville and received a treat which warmed my heart as well as my tummy.

While I enjoyed a 6-inch Italian BMT sandwich, I couldn’t help but to observe an interaction between a youngster and the man I assumed was a Subway employee.

The youngster, 7-year-old Zayden Holcombe, approached the counter, reached for a bag of Doritos and proceeded to the checkout and handed his chips to the man waiting there.

The gentleman questioned young Zayden, asking whether the young man had money to pay for his purchase.

Zayden shook his head to say, “No.” The worker chuckled, then asked the boy if he would prefer a cookie or the chips.

Upon consideration, Zayden selected the cookies, as most youngsters are prone to do.

The scene was endearing, heartwarming really, but as I watched the interaction, I wondered if the gentleman would get into trouble for giving away the cookie.

After the meal, I approached the gentleman to thank him for his cheerful demeanor and his kindness to young Zayden. During the conversation, I learned the gentleman was Kelvin Lawrence, who owns and operates the restaurant with his wife Marilyn.

The Lawrences, I learned, opened the store in 2003. The couple knows customers by name, remembers what each usually orders, and hires local high school students to train them up with pride and a strong work ethic.

“We try to hire students,” Kelvin said. “We follow kids all the way through college. A lot of them work for us in college and are doing a lot of great things.”

While I ate, I listened to a conversation between Marilyn and a young worker, an example of the way she gently but firmly guides her young employees in fulfilling their responsibilities.

“You must wear your name tag,” Marilyn told one young lady, not scoldingly, but firmly. “It’s important.”

Kelvin said what young men and women learn at Subway, they can take with them anywhere they go.

“We don’t fuss, we teach,” Kelvin said.

According to Marilyn, the couple enjoys providing friendly service to the community.

“[Kelvin’s] thing is the kids,” she said. “He loves giving away all the cookies to the children.”

The Lawrence’s attend Mount Moriah Baptist Church 2, where she is youth ministry director and he leads the Arthur Love Foundation, a ministry of the mentally challenged. Their son, Kelvin J. Lawrence serves as State Representative for District 69.

I recommend visitors and travelers passing through Hayneville stop by the Lawrence’s Subway. The customer service is even better than the food.