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Creating a Home Away from Home

Rhett’s cashiers Maria Echavarria and Wendy Martinez serve up big helpings of warmth and humor

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Rhett’s at the GSU is one of the most popular spots on campus for anyone looking for a quick bite. But those who’ve passed through the checkout line there often have another reason for coming back: the warm smiles and cheerful friendliness of two of Rhett’s cashiers.

Maria Echavarria and Wendy Martinez make the place feel like a home away from home for students. The two are famous for the care they shower on their customers. They greet everyone with a smile, remember what they like to order, and have a sympathetic ear and an unerring sense of when a student needs a little reassurance.

“Sometimes students come in and they’re sad, and I say, ‘You can’t be sad. You only have one life. You have to be positive! Eat some breakfast, relax, then you can go do homework and go to the library,’” Echavarria says. “Solve one problem at a time,” she often advises.

“Many students are away from home for the first time, and the welcome these ladies give alleviates the homesickness they feel,” says Deb Dewar, GSU senior food service director.

Martinez began working for Dining Services 11 years ago. When Echavarria arrived a year later, they hit it off immediately. Both from the Dominican Republic, the two share an easy rapport, often teasing each other and laughing at something the other says. “Working with Maria is like working with my sister,” Martinez says. Echavarria says that Martinez taught her everything when she started her job. “She’s my teacher,” she says, pointing to her friend as both women laugh.

Arriving each morning at 5:45, Echavarria makes sure everything is spotless and that supplies are restocked before Rhett’s 7 am opening. Martinez arrives by 8:30. They agree on the best part of their job: getting to know the students. Many of them come back to visit after graduation or surprise them with gifts and cards around the holidays.

“It’s not work,” says Martinez. “It’s a family.”

Bill Politis can be reached at bpolitis@bu.edu.

21 Comments

21 Comments on Creating a Home Away from Home

  • Cathy on 02.25.2019 at 8:52 am

    Wendy and Maria, I’m a BU parent, and I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy you’re looking after the BU students,and being their mom away from home. God bless you.

    BU Today, thanks for featuring Wendy and Maria.

  • Ken Rosen on 02.25.2019 at 10:00 am

    I just want to compliment you on your wonderful video on the Rhetts cashiers. I have had the great fortune of encountering the extraordinary, wonderful nature of these ladies who truly make all of us who encounter them feel lifted up and you completely captured their beautiful spirit and I’m so glad you had the foresight and talent to recognize and spotlight them . They are an unsung BU treasure but thanks to you they are unsung no more.

  • Susanne Jordan on 02.25.2019 at 10:22 am

    I love these behind the scenes stories. It makes BU feel so much more real to me. I am a Mom of a student as well and it makes me feel good to know that these kind, loving women are looking out for our kids! Sending you the same love and kindness in return.

  • George on 02.25.2019 at 1:49 pm

    Maria (and Connie who wasn’t in the video) made me feel so welcome when I worked at Rhett’s during my Freshman year at BU. Her kindness is something that I will never forget and I am so glad that countless other students have gotten to know what a wonderful person she is.

  • Franklin Roa Guerrero on 02.25.2019 at 2:06 pm

    Wooooww I’m so proud of you María!!

    She’s my aunt and now I’m happier for having she as my aunt! My other aunts usually tell me histories about when they were children, she was the one who helped her sister doing homeworks and preparing for exams. She has always been that hard worker and kind person.

    Just seeing this video and listening for those students about how they fell, makes me super happy cause I know she is still one of those people who really focus on little things, things like wish someone’s luck, things like smile, and after all, those little things are the ones who truly make us humans no matter what is your job. I have always said that if all of us were like this, the Earth as we know would be a very different place!

    Continue being like this Wendy and Maria!

    I hope someday I will go there without an advice and caught you two being that special ladies!

    Regards from Dominican Republic!
    – Your nephew.

  • Martha Irene Ayala on 02.25.2019 at 2:51 pm

    I am a staff at BU and I have to say, that I love going in the morning to get my breakfast at Rhett’s because they prepare everything with such dedication and being able to be greeted by Maria who is always so cheerful and positive, makes my day.

  • Jaquelin guerrero on 02.25.2019 at 7:07 pm

    Felicidades mi hermana maria, eres buena en todo lo que haces, te queremos mucho. (Translated: “Congratulations my sister Maria, you are good at everything you do, we love you very much.”)

  • Rose on 02.26.2019 at 12:16 am

    I’m very moved.

  • Patrice Oppliger on 02.26.2019 at 8:20 am

    Thank you for the lovely story. The staff are the heart of BU, especially these two.

  • Peter Tonzi on 02.26.2019 at 1:33 pm

    As a BU Alum (CAS ’11), seeing the image of these two kind faces instantly transported me back to my days spending those sweet dining bucks at the GSU.

    Maria and Wendy never memorized my order because I would switch up my fry seasonings often (I think the menu’s changed but if I remember correctly the Ranch was my favorite), but they were always so pleasant and really made getting food and spending time at Rhett’s a better experience. I remember them to this day.

    A wonderful video tribute to two great people, happy to see they are continuing to provide smiles to hungry BU students to this day!

  • Jamie on 02.27.2019 at 10:06 am

    These ladies are the absolute BEST! It’s so nice that BU is telling their story.

  • Nad on 02.27.2019 at 10:35 am

    This was so cute, such a positive energy

  • Dave on 02.28.2019 at 12:37 am

    Thank you Wendy and Maria for everything you do to make BU special.

  • Drew on 02.28.2019 at 7:27 am

    I’m so happy to see this make it on to BU Today! I’ve been waiting for it to arrive ever since I first saw hints of it from BU Dining Services.

    Wendy and Maria have a truly special relationship. Their friendship and love for each other and everyone around them can make any bad morning better in an instant. As they say, it’s never their coworker they call for, it’s always a friend or “mi amor.” We’re incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people here for so long. They make BU special.

    Thank you Wendy and Maria for all that you do!

  • Daniel on 03.01.2019 at 9:00 am

    They are the best. They take time to make you feel welcomed and not just take your order and move on. I look forward to coming to rhetts. I visit twice per week and order different items on each day. They have taken the time to remember what I order even the special modifications I always ask for. The small details make a huge difference.

  • Kate on 03.01.2019 at 10:48 am

    These women are incredibly kind and always uplifting. BU, please give them a raise!!! They deserve it!

  • Tracy on 03.01.2019 at 5:30 pm

    This video is wonderful.

    I am very proud and honored to call Wendy my mom. It is moving to witness the outpouring love and effort she puts into her work. Being a BU alumna myself, it felt great being able to visit GSU and see my mother there with a big smile!

    It is great to see that so many other students and staff recognize the amazing work by Maria and my mother! Thank you BU for making such a beautiful video about showing their true loving personalities!

    You rock mom! Te amo!

  • Kendall on 03.02.2019 at 1:52 pm

    Love these two!! Great piece on them, I’m glad they’re getting the spotlight!

  • Sarah Payano on 03.14.2019 at 2:22 pm

    Maria and Wendy: Thank you for representing the Dominican people. Keep the good job up!

  • Rachel on 03.15.2019 at 10:29 am

    My junior year I would go to Rhett’s early in the morning when it was just opening before work at 7AM and the moment Maria saw me walk into the GSU that would start cooking my breakfast so by the time I go to the cash register it was already halfway done. She was a beautiful smiling face first thing in the morning and always set me up for a great day. Thank you Maria!

  • Amy Limpitlaw on 03.21.2019 at 12:27 pm

    I can also attest that these ladies are treasures! Customer service at its very best. I don’t go to Rhett’s regularly, but whenever I do, I have been struck by how wonderful and warm the service is. Thanks for highlighting these two wonderful women.

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