Nancy Denzio Parker has made a lot of Subway sandwiches, well over 10,000 since her first day on the job in 1986, she estimates.
“I never knew I would still be here 30 years later,” said Parker, who recalls that it was her nephew, Steven Barnhart, who talked her into getting a job at the shop, 936 E. Hanna Ave. “He thought I would quit, but he only stayed there two months. I guess he couldn’t take it,” she jokingly said.
Parker worked 26 years for Bob and Anna Marie Domek before they sold the business in 2012 to Piyish Patel.
“I was the only one who stuck it out with Bob. He asked me several times to become a manager, but I didn’t want the stress,” said Parker, who has always been content with her 30-hour workweek, usually 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Lunches are always busy, and four sandwich makers are required to handle the crowd.
In addition to crafting sandwiches, Parker preps meat and cheeses, slices tomatoes and trains new hires. “I have trained a lot of employees; they have come and gone by the thousands. It’s really an expense when many only stay for a couple of weeks.”
While Parker, 74, says all of Subway’s sandwiches are delicious, she likes making the BMT the most. “I don’t know what it stands for; I just tell customers it’s ‘bestest, mostest, tastiest.’ The secret to making a good sandwich is making it just the way the customer wants it.”
What has kept her at the store all these years? “I enjoy my work, and it gives me something to do. We have a lot of friendly customers. One couple comes in every day and they always split the same sandwich. Our customers always come first. We (employees) always have smiles on our faces, and we are considerate and caring.”
Parker, a graduate of Sacred Heart High School who worked 11 years in the cafeteria at Manual High School before her Subway career, has no plans to retire in the near future. “As long as I am healthy – and my doctor says I am – there is no reason not to work. As far as I know I have probably worked for Subway as long as anybody. I don’t think they keep records.”
In recognition of her service to the company she was awarded a plaque, which came as a surprise to her. Rex M. Joseph Jr., a longtime customer, wrote to Subway’s corporate headquarters in Milford, Conn., about Parker.
“In this day and age,” he wrote, “to have any employee work for you 30 years is a miracle.” Subway is blessed to have had her as a company representative for three decades. “Jared Fogel was an absolute embarrassment for Subway, and he was a Hoosier. Nancy Parker is a Hoosier with real Hoosier values.”
Joseph said Parker is always friendly and sports a pleasant smile. “I can’t imagine the number of sandwiches she has made and the number of hours she’s stood on her feet.”
She recently returned from a belated family Christmas vacation to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean islands. “It was so beautiful, especially the water. The people were so nice,” said Parker, who has two children, Jeff Parker and Pam Byrns, and three grandchildren, Jeffery, Riley and Randi.
But play time is over for this “sandwichologist.” She has to laden a BMT with black olives and green peppers.