Waitress Fran Haley has been at Shuckers Pier 13 as long as there has been a Shuckers Pier 13. She’s raised six children, and has 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, but still has no plans to retire until she hits 80 because “that’s for old people.”
Q How long have you worked here?
A 31 years. I came in 1979 as a single mom, raising kids who came to work here also.
Q Has it been Shuckers in all that time?
A Always. He opened in ’79 when I came. It was a lot smaller at the time. We only had the rooms in the back. You could only get French fries or corn on the cob as a side, nothing else.
Q You already mentioned a few things, but how has Shuckers changed?
A Actually the food has stayed the same. Customer-wise, years ago we used to have a lot more out the door because there were no restaurants in the area. We had no Applebees, no Red Lobster, no Olive Garden. We were it for the longest time.
The food has always remained good food. I could not work here if I couldn’t eat here. They’ve started expanding the menu, where they have a lot of fresh seafood and we are doing a lot of fresh fish. We get fresh swordfish, haddock, cod, snapper, flounder, salmon, tuna.
And they prepare every order fresh, nothing is prepared when you come in, outside of soups.
Q Tell me a little about NASCAR weekend.
A I can remember when I started here NASCAR people were out the door waiting for us. Dover Downs did not have all the concessions that they have now.
I love some of our NASCAR people that come in. A lot of them I’ve waited on for 20-some years. I think the NASCAR people are a nice family group. You get a few of your rowdies in that come to the bar, but as a whole, it’s a nice family group.
I like the NASCAR weekend. I think it adds a little bit of excitement to Dover, and I think everybody that works with them enjoys having them in town.
Q On a NASCAR weekend, how much does business grow?
A The regulars stay home so it’s probably equivalent to a regular weekend in a way, outside of the bar that stays busy. We’re one of the few bars that you can walk to in the area. It’s just different people that you see on NASCAR weekend.
Q You’ve been here so long, you must like your job. What’s kept you going for so long?
A When I started, I was a single mom. I worked two jobs, did school bus and came here at night. It was great for me because I could switch my schedule [to see] my kids that played sports.
The only determent to working 30 years is I’ve called off sick four times in 31 years. I’ve been off for deaths in the family and things like that, but as for getting sick, I don’t get sick. I always feel guilty when I’m not here.
I do like my job. The only bad thing about being a waitress, not just here, is you don’t get benefits when you leave. There’s no retirement. But it affords me the opportunity to work when I want to work to earn extra money. I cut my hours down when I started getting Social Security.
I’m 70 now and I would like to be the oldest waitress to retire in Dover. So, hopefully I’ll be about to work until 80.
Q Is it tough to be on your feet all day?
A No. I listen to the young kids complain all the time — and my boss George says the same thing — their feet hurt, their back hurts, their legs hurt.
I wear support hose. I’ve learned how to bend from my grandfather years ago on the farm. I do not have backaches. My legs don’t bother me. My shoulders hurt, yes, but that’s after 31 years of lifting. When I’m not working and I’ll go on vacation and I’m not walking and I’m not lifting, I feel like I’m falling apart.
Q What are the biggest selling dishes?
A We have a steamed combination where you get lobster, king crab legs, shrimp and clams. We also have a fried combination and that has flounder, shrimp, oysters and some clams. The fresh fish is selling well.
Q What is your favorite dish?
A Do you know I have ate here so many years that on my nights off I like pizza? I like our shrimp because you cannot find larger shrimp anywhere than what we have here. I also acquired a taste for scallops, as well. Our crab cakes are good. We don’t use a whole lot of breading in our crab cakes.
Q What do you when you don’t work?
A We have three Jack Russells — Tippy, Dot-E (my husband named her Dot-E because she has a black spot on her one ear) and the other one is Cowboy. Cowboy walks like a cowboy, that little swagger to it.
I love yard work. I love flowers; I like to garden with flowers. I fed the birds.
My husband is retired Navy so he stays home with the dogs while I work.
Email Jayne Gest at firstname.lastname@example.org