‘Mama Dee’ brightens students’ days at Laker Inn

Casey Bleuel photo: Denise “Dee” Pamula works in the Laker Inn and enjoys her job.Casey Bleuel photo: Denise “Dee” Pamula works in the Laker Inn and enjoys her job.

It takes a special kind of person to brighten the day of a busy, sometimes stressed-out, college student. For many students who visit The Laker Inn, Denise “Dee” Pamula has been such a person.

A native of Erie and grandmother of six, Pamula began working as a Grill Cook at the Laker Inn in July 2013, taking up the position again after parting ways 13 years ago.

“I loved it here and I loved it here then, too, because I loved the kids,” she said.

Pamula, who taught children’s religious education on Sundays for 17 years, explained the positive experience she has had working with students, stating that “If you respect the kids, they respect you back.”

“Some people like flowers, they’re into flowers, and that’s their ultimate job. Me, I love working with kids,” Pamula said.

Pamula is just as passionate about the quality of the food she serves.

“I’ve been in the food service all my life,” Pamula explained. “We like to produce food that looks good for everybody else. That’s the motto. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t serve it. Do it [the order] again.”

Pamula enjoys working with students at the Laker.

“Some of the kids are goofy,” she said. “There are so many different personalities.”

Sophomore accounting and finance major Phong Vu, who works with Pamula at Laker, said that “Dee is the kind of person who will go all over the dining room just to make sure everybody is OK. She likes to talk with people and is always giving out hugs and kisses.”

“We have our A-Team,” Pamula said speaking about her coworkers at the Laker, many of whom have affectionately nicknamed her ‘Mama Dee.’ “We have a good team of kids and they just rock everything out. I think they work really hard… everybody supports each other…And it’s not just the kids, it’s the adults too.”

“And I’m not just fabricating,” Mama Dee added, “it is true. …What you see is what you get with me.”