As the holidays approach, Christmas Cheer is spreading throughout town.
But at the Starbucks on Chicago Avenue in downtown Naperville, a friendly welcome is available year-round, because when Ed Poole is behind the counter of Starbucks a sunny greeting is a guarantee. Ed doesn’t just serve up coffee, he builds relationships with customers.
“I just love interacting with people,” said Poole. “I mean people are fascinating. They very often times have interesting stories and I really enjoy that.”
Poole’s passion is connecting with people. After retiring from his career as a junior high guidance counselor, Poole missed the daily interaction with others. That’s what led him to Starbucks, and what’s kept him there for the past five years.
“The nice thing about being with the company so long, over the years you get to know little snippets here and there, but there’s a bigger story,” said Poole.
Throughout his time at Starbucks, Poole’s short exchanges with customers have made him a staple. Whether they’re studying, taking a break from work, or getting their daily caffeine fix, customers love Ed.
“It’s just always just a nice way to come in and feel good about myself,” said Kelsey Vandenberg, a sophomore at North Central College.
“Everyone needs a little bit of excitement and cheer in their life on a daily basis and he provides that,” said Anastasios Michalopulos, an Aurora resident.
“Ed is probably the most wonderful barista we have in the city of Naperville,” said Mary Komada, a Naperville resident. “If you have a bad day just come in to see Ed and you’ll feel better.”
Poole’s connection with customers began to grow a few years ago when he began collecting Starbucks city mugs. Regulars learned of his collection, and now bring back mugs from their travels around the globe. Poole shares the stories of how the mugs came to Naperville and patrons share stories of their own journeys.
“Just today a man was looking at the Kyoto, Japan mug and he said ‘when I got out of duty on Vietnam that was the first place we stopped on the way home,’” said Poole. “You don’t know what kind of memories are going through peoples’ minds but wow, that’s neat.”
The neatest part of the job for Poole is bringing a smile to the face of customers who may not get the chance to for the rest of the day.
“This guy stops and he turns and looks at us and he says, ‘You know, this is probably the only time today I’m going to smile,’” said Poole. “I have no idea what’s going on in our customers’ lives, the burdens they face or the meetings that they’re walking into, but if we lift that burden a little or give them a happy moment during the day, I’m all about that.”
Those happy moments will continue through the holiday season as Poole helps bring the Christmas spirit to Starbucks. To celebrate the holidays at Starbucks last year, Poole had naughty and nice lists. Each customer received a candy cane or a lump of coal. He says he had so much fun he’ll be doing it again this year.
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