Waynesburg University’s Stover Center and Beehive underwent some major changes while students were away on summer recess.
The changes to the building include a renovated Starbucks, a 24-hour market, and a new way to order food from the Beehive.
Students order food on the kiosks located on the first floor of Stover and in the Beehive. After ordering, students wait for their orders to be called by an automated system before retrieving their food.
After two days of the new system being in place, a problem arose. During lunch and dinner time, the Beehive would get busy and loud, making it hard for the students to hear the automated voice calling out their orders.
The Beehive staff knew a change was necessary, as students’ meals were getting cold because they hadn’t heard their order being called to go get their food.
That’s where James Portellos, retail manager for Aladdin Food at Waynesburg University, stepped in.
“I’m concerned about everybody getting a nice warm meal and having a good experience. So sometimes I step out there and I start to announce their names,” Portellos said.
Portellos said that other members on staff tried calling the names.
“I’m sure some of the people here will tell you, I’ve got a big mouth,” Portellos said. “It just cuts right through.”
Students who have eaten in the Beehive since the updates have noticed that Portellos likes to have fun when calling out names.
“I find it entertaining. I think it’s hilarious,” Nick Staso, sophomore electronic media major, said.
“He does make my day a lot better. With me not being able to hang out with my friends in the dorms, we don’t have a lot of time in our days where we get to see our friends. It’s nice to be experiencing something that’s actually kind of funny,” Staso said. Staso is a commuter student. “I do hope people come to the Beehive and experience it because it is hilarious. It is amazing.”
Portellos came to Waynesburg University after losing his previous job at California University of Pennsylvania due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After Cal U made the decision that they were not going to go back to campus, Portellos applied at Waynesburg and got the job.
“I come from almost that paternal instinct to make sure that everybody’s taken care of, and my barking out is my way to have fun with it,” Portellos said. “My barking out is a way to make sure everybody gets a hot meal that they deserve.”
Previously, Portellos worked with a nonprofit for two years called FOCUS North America. FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve. They were based in Carnegie, running a summer feeding program for children 18 and under, breakfast and lunch, all over the country.
“These were students that if they didn’t get their meals at school, they were hungry,” Portellos said. “They would count on us being there to make sure they had a meal.”
Portellos said that his paternal instinct comes from the fact that food is one of his love languages.
“I have two older sisters but my mother would call me down to help when we were making big dinners. My grandmother who was born in Greece, I’d help her make bread,” Portellos said. “At church we would have our big food festivals. From a very young age I was always very involved with those.”
As an orthodox Christian, Portellos said his favorite saint was Saint Euphrosynos, the cook. He was known for being humble and loving, always making sure the other monks’ needs were taken care of. He became a saint because God recognized his service and humility.
When Portellos first started yelling out orders in the Beehive, there was a little bewilderment from students.
“The entire room would turn and look at me. It was like ‘What in the world’s going on?’ But they saw I was having fun with it, and they started having fun with it,” Portellos said.
Portellos also encourages anyone in the Beehive to come up to him to express any questions or concerns, good or bad.
“I don’t want this to be a one-way relationship between the Beehive and the student. I want the students to be able to talk to me about it,” Portellos said.
If students have any ideas about what could be changed or updated in the Beehive, they would be encouraged to talk to Portellos. He also asks that students follow the policy of having four people at a table in the Beehive to keep everyone safe.
Portellos likes to say that when you’re in the Beehive, you’re not a student. You’re a guest.
“You’re the guest, and you’re coming to my house in a strange way,” Portellos said. “If you’re thirsty, I’m going to make sure you have water. If you’re hungry, I’m going to make sure you have a meal.”