If you spend as much time in the Grill as the average Grinnellian does, you have probably seen the friendly face of Nicole Berry behind the counter. As one of the Spencer Grill’s managers and part of the staff at the Honor G Grill in the dining hall, Berry has seen it all—the good, the bad and the drunken.
The 29-year-old has done a lot with her lifetime, from becoming a seasoned bartender to being a mom of three: 6-year-old son Jacob, 5-year-old daughter Taylor, 22-month-old son Griffin, and she is due with another child in May. She wants to be surprised, so she hasn’t found out the sex of the baby.
However, before marriage and children, Berry briefly dated Ashton Kutcher in high school. Though Kutcher is a celebrity, Berry in nonchalant about it. “Yeah, we went to a few parties together,” she said. “He went to a high school nearby and he was cool.”
Berry has spent about 10 years working in various restaurants while also raising her three—soon to be four—children. But what brought Berry to Grinnell about one year ago was the promise of full-time employment, benefits for her family, and scheduling that allowed either her or her husband to be with their kids.
Though working for Dining Services has all these benefits, Berry’s favorite aspects of her job is interacting with Grinnell students. “I really enjoy their perspectives,” she said. “I feel like I learn a lot from them, as well teach them too.”
Having now experienced a year’s worth of crazy weekend nights, Nicole has seen some pretty outrageous Grinnellian antics, both intoxicated and sober. “Someone just ran into the Grill and peed in the corner!” Berry said. “Another time, some nauseous girl ran in to the Grill and aimed at the trash can, but ended up missing the trashcan—though [she] ended up cleaning after herself.”
As bizarre as these events may sound, Berry’s favorite moment doesn’t include student’s bodily fluids. “The most outrageous thing though is when someone stole a whole candy rack from the front counter, that thing was huge and had at least 50 candy bars on it,” Berry said. “They were never caught! I’m convinced it was a group effort.” Nicole did mention that while some things have gone missing, many students have come back and paid for things they had taken.
Student burglaries don’t just limit themselves to the Spencer Grill. In the Dining Hall’s Honor G Grill, Nicole has seen some unusual things as well. “Someone stole the blue light for the blue light special—so strange,” she said. Upon hearing that there was a Grinnell rap group with the name Honor G, she said, “no wonder they told us to guard those hats with Honor G on them with our lives, those things apparently get stolen quick.”
Students that know Berry share her positive opinion about her relationship with students. “I love working with Nicole … she’s smart, a hard-worker, and she makes working at the Grill fun,” said Spencer Grill employee Hiba Elnour ’12. “She never hesitates to give advice and make you laugh.”
Her gregariousness lends itself to creating friendships with not just Grill student workers, but other students as well. Last semester, while her husband was on the edge of his seat watching his favorite team the Philadelphia Phillies take the World Series by storm, Berry recieved updates on the game from Antonio Woods ’10. “She noticed my Phillies hat when I came into the Grill, and we talked about our mutual love of the team,” he said. “She’s really cool.”