Customer Service Hall of Fame

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

image of Lily Olson

Lily Olson

Lead Barista at Starbucks

Leliani (Lily) Olson has been employed with HMSHost since 1992, and has become a leading example of best-in-class customer service. Lily demonstrates a commitment not only to delivering a great guest experience but also a deep appreciation for her job with HMSHost and Starbucks. She became a celebrity of sorts at the airport when her great personality and giving nature made an extremely positive impact on a guest, who happened to be renowned motivational speaker, Ryan Estis. Ryan was traveling on Christmas Eve to visit his family in Cleveland and stopped at Starbucks where he met Lily. Not only did she take the time to make his drink extra special, she asked his name, where he was going, and was truly interested in hearing about his plans with his family. When he left, Lily said, “Ryan, have a safe trip back to Cleveland and go create some extraordinary memories with your family. When you come back through Minneapolis I want you to stop here and tell me all about it.” Ryan was so impressed by the service he received from Lily, and how she made him feel, that he featured the entire experience in his inspirational leadership presentation entitled “Pouring Happiness,” also available on YouTube. Lily continues to deliver this level of guest service to hundreds of passengers every day.

Denver International Airport

image of Joanna Halasan

Joanna Halasan

Shift Supervisor at Starbucks

Joanna Marie Halasan has been a Starbucks Barista at Denver International Airport since 2012. Joanna is consistent with exceeding expectations on a daily basis with both her coworkers and with her guests. She makes it a point to remember frequent traveler names and their preferences for Starbucks drinks, down to the precise details of how they like their drinks made. Joanna has been mentioned in customer comments for her top-notch and legendary service. Recently she was commended by the Starbucks District Manager for the positive impact she has on the Starbucks brand, for elevating the guest experience, for her ongoing support, and for her active participation in Starbucks’ Period Planning Visit. The Starbucks District Manager’s recognition of Joanna’s performance is a testament to her superior efforts, and it proves that her hard work does not go unnoticed. Joanna was recently promoted to Shift Supervisor.

McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas)

image of Kimberly Brooks

Kimberly Brooks

Server at California Pizza Kitchen

Kimberly Brooks has worked for HMSHost since 2004. She has received over 300 guest compliments, all expressing the stellar customer service they have received. Kimberly has been at the California Pizza Kitchen in McCarran Airport since 2012. She consistently goes the extra mile to make sure her guests have everything they ordered, delivering their orders with great attitude and speed, and being kind and pleasant. She even entertains her guests with stories and gives extra attention to them when she knows their flights have been delayed. Some frequent travelers have come back to CPK just so they can have Kimberly as their waitress. It is clear from the comments that she is passionate about what she does. One such comment demonstrates her passion for guest service: “I was very impressed at the service she was able to provide. I was on a call when the food came and she made sure to set the food and table so that nothing would spill on my laptop. After I was done with the call, she came and offered to reheat my food. That was very considerate of her and I felt appreciated and valued as a customer. I enjoyed my meal at CPK and Kimberly deserves most of the credit for that.”

Vince Lombardi Travel Plaza, New Jersey Turnpike

image of Lilia Bardales

Lilia Bardales

Burger King

Lilia Bardales began her career in 1999 with HMSHost. Last January a guest, Jessica, was traveling from Boston to Philadelphia with her 7-month old baby boy when she started to feel very sick and pulled over at the travel plaza. She was so weak and couldn’t hold her baby anymore. She asked one of the workers for assistance, and Lilia who was very calm and soothing came to help. EMT arrived to take Jessica in the ambulance to the hospital but the baby was not allowed to travel in the ambulance. Lilia, along with a police officer, took the baby and followed the ambulance to the hospital. In the meantime, Lilia contacted Jessica’s parents to meet them at the hospital. Although Jessica was scared and didn’t know what to do, she felt completely comfortable leaving her baby with Lilia. “I am so thankful for everything that Lilia did for my baby and me during this crisis and I will be forever grateful to her!”

San Francisco International Airport

image of Maria Gomez

Maria Gomez

Buena Vista Café

On February 25, 2012, my 87 year old mother, Lois Dewey, became disoriented in the San Francisco International Airport and missed her morning flight to Hawaii. After walking through secured doors and being questioned by several security guards and airport police, my mother did find her way to the Buena Vista Café in the domestic flight area, where Molly Gomez, and employee, comforted and reassured her. When Molly’s shift ended, she spent the rest of her day escorting my mom through the airport, keeping her occupied with art exhibitions and conversation, until she made sure my mother walked through the gate and onto her new flight, some eight hours later that evening. Molly went far above and beyond what would be expected and valued in customer service. My brothers and I would like to thank her and would like to make sure that her direct manager, as well as those in corporate management, know what a quality individual they have in their employee. We are extremely grateful!

Thank you Molly!

Susan Downey

Delaware Welcome Center

image of Bomani Crumpton

Bomani Crumpton, Kamilah Marsden, Marc Ford


My mother’s last visit to the Delaware Welcome Center rest area started off horribly but ended just right. It started when her bus from New York traveling to Silver Spring left her at the rest stop on May 10, 2012. My mom didn't hear the driver announce the bus departure so she kept shopping. When she noticed her bus was gone she panicked. She wandered around for a while and then came across a few Starbucks employees, Bomani Crumpton, Kamilah Marsden and the manager, Marc Ford. They sat her down, contacted me and my family, and told us about the incident. My mom was only traveling with a few dollars so she could not afford to purchase food and other items, and when the Starbucks employees saw that, they chipped in and bought her food and snacks so that she could have something to eat. When my mother told me that, I cried because who would have known there were people that really cared. They went above and beyond and I wish more rest stops could have employees like Marc, Kamilah, and Bo. They even waited until 11:30 PM when I arrived to make sure she was in good hands. “They are employees to be congratulated for their efforts, without them I don't know what would have happened to my mom.” Thanks, I love you guys!!!!!

Hyman Garden

Daughter of Lost Mother

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

image of Edwin Porter

Edwin Porter

HMSHost Maintenance Department

On June 12, 2012, HMSHost maintenance worker and hero Edwin Porter saved the life of a young boy at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Edwin saw the small child playing on an escalator near the airport's atrium and then quickly the child was stranded, holding onto the escalator’s handrail with his feet on the outside metal railing, with no way to get down. Edwin ran toward the child, up the nearby stairs. The boy was nearly at the top of the escalator when Edwin pulled him out – the escalator was still moving with the child approaching the barrier at the end of the lift. Below him was a drop of 30 to 40 feet. "By the time I got to him…he was somewhere near this bend in the railing and believe me when I grabbed a hold of him, he offered me no resistance whatsoever. He was ready to get off," said Edwin. Edwin said all he could think about when he saw the helpless child holding on for dear life was his own son, who is about the same age. "Kids do things that are inexplicable and I would hope that if something happens when I wasn't there, that somebody would be there for my kid too.”

Thank you Edwin!

Orlando International Airport

Stella Castellon

Outback Steakhouse

A past guest, Laura, was traveling on February 28, 2013 with her husband and 10 month old son. While waiting for their flight at Orlando National Airport, they had dinner at Outback. The baby was eating broccoli, and a piece became lodged in his throat. His face turned red and no sounds came from his cries. Laura and her husband panicked and began screaming “our son is choking, we don’t know what to do!” Our associate Stella saw what was happening and ran to the parents to guide them through the Heimlich procedure. The parents were too distressed to listen, so Stella asked them if it would be alright if she assisted the baby. Stella’s assistance led to the piece of broccoli finally flying out of the baby’s mouth. Laura grabbed Stella in a bear hug and thanked her for her help. I received a tearful phone call from Laura to inform me of Stella’s heroic actions that saved her baby’s life. I was so proud to know that one of our associates would act so courageously in such a panicked situation. Our entire staff is in awe of Stella who was humble and grateful that she could assist. Stella has a two year old daughter of her own and couldn’t walk away from a child that needed help.

Thank you Stella!

George Bush Intercontinental Airport

image of Tiffany Strnad

Tiffany Strnad


On May 2, 2013 a gunman entered George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, seating himself in an area just outside HMSHost’s pre-security Starbucks, and fired 2 shots into the air. Tiffany Strnad was working that day near the entrance to the restaurant and after hearing the gun shots immediately jumped into action assisting associates to the back of the restaurant to safety. Tiffany noticed an elderly guest seated in the restaurant area and helped to get her out of harm’s way by escorting her to the back area with her other associates. As the gunman was approached by a Homeland Security Officer he shot himself and no other people were injured. In the midst of such a terrifying incident, Tiffany was able to secure the safety of both her associates and a guest while staying calm. HMSHost recognizes and is extremely proud of the heroic acts of this individual.

Thank you Tiffany!

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport

image of Roxanne Viska

Roxanne Viska

F&B Operations Manager

At the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport on Thursday, October 31, 2013, we had 100 stranded passengers waiting at Delta Gate C26 all trying to get to Wausau, Wisconsin. Most of them were already here last night due to a cancellation and a diversion from Detroit. We were sending them all on buses leaving here at approximately at 11:30 a.m. At about 10:00 a.m., I found Roxanne Viska and asked her if she could make some type of breakfast item that we could give these passengers. I have to tell you, I have never seen something come together that fast in my life! In literally about 5 minutes after talking, she and two other employees were cranking out breakfast sandwiches. In probably less than 10 minutes we had 100 sandwiches done. The passengers were incredibly grateful and so was I, to say the least. Roxanne really deserves to be recognized. She is always a joy and will do about anything for us in a moment’s notice. She made a huge difference this morning!!!

Thank you

Paul Fudenberg

Above Wing Department Manager

Delta Global Services-MSP

Los Angeles International Airport, Terminal 3

image of Jennifer Gatlin,

Jennifer Gatlin, Martha Bautista, Lino Herrera, Vera Antoine, Boon Thamaratayanond and Tomas Navarro

On the morning of Friday, November 1, 2013, a gunman entered Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport. Walking up to the security checkpoint, he opened fire shooting a TSA Officer. He then went up the escalator to the end of the Terminal to the food court. Once our managers (Martha, Vera, Lino, Tomas, Boon, and Jennifer) realized a shooter was in the building they quickly went to the front of the food court and Gladstone’s and closed the emergency fire doors to protect the passengers and associates from the shooter as he approached closer. Not only did these managers act quickly to protect people (where they were held for 7 hours) they had a way to reach every single associate to find their whereabouts. This is a very difficult thing to accomplish when you are upset and scared to death, but they persevered through it and shortly after the incident we had a complete accounting for all of our associates. This group of managers really did an outstanding job in a very difficult time.

Thank you for your heroic efforts and putting your associates and customers first.

Richard Bennett

HMSHost Vice President, Operations

Delaware Welcome Center

image of Shawn Leslie

Shawn Leslie

HMSHost Maintenance Department

On Tuesday, January 21, 2014, my wife and I stopped at the Delaware Welcome Center. We own a handicap van and I pulled up to the curb in the driving snow and let the ramp on our van out so my wife could get off with her electric wheelchair into the Center and I went to close the back ramp door via a button and it literally fell of the car. We needless to say were extremely upset and did not know how to get the door back on the van. I tried to lift it unsuccessfully and was standing there not knowing what to do in a sheer panic state. It was snowing heavily and suddenly Mr. Leslie showed up and asked could he help us. My God what a Godsend, he worked throughout the driving snow storm to get our door back on the car having to make numerous stops to get the proper tools. After finally being able to get the door back on its track he made sure that it opened and closed properly, then making sure I could get my wife back into the van. He showed tremendous caring and knowledge on how to get the job done and we could not go without expressing our deepest thanks for having an employee of his caliber on your staff.


Jim and Celeste Mihalik

Tampa International Airport

image of Boris Betancourt

Boris Betancourt

Airside A Food Court

On Tuesday, March 11, 2014, Boris was closing the Airside A Food Court at the Tampa International Airport. The last flight had departed 45 minutes prior and Boris was performing his final check of the operation before leaving for the night. All of the associates had finished their closing duties and were gone for the night. Boris had just said goodbye to the last associate of the night when he noticed a few people start to trickle back into the dining area looking to purchase snacks and beverages. Finding this odd since the last flight had already boarded, he asked one of the guests what was going one. The guest told him that one of the crew had fallen ill and the flight had pushed back from the gate and was on the taxiway for nearly 45 minutes before they returned to the gate and deplaned. After the small amount of guests had left the Food Court, Boris walked over to the gate to get some more information. The gate attendant explained that they would be canceling the flight and would he please stay open. Without hesitation, Boris turned the Pizza Hut oven back on and began cooking pizzas for the guests. Boris single handedly prepared and served over 100 distressed passengers without any assistance until 1:00 AM.


Jason Smith

Manager, Airside A Food Court

Ontario, Canada

image of Wayne Peterkin

Wayne Peterkin

Port Hope OnRoute

On Monday, June 2, 2014, a coach bus carrying 25 senior Australian tourists caught fire which closed Highway 401 Eastbound Lanes near Wesleyville, Ontario, Canada. The fire destroyed much of the bus leaving a smoking frame as fire crews worked to extinguish the blaze. “There was extensive damage to the bus and luggage, the highway will remain closed until the road surface can be repaved” was reported by police. Police said all the tourists got off the bus without injury. With their day sidetracked indefinitely, the passengers headed to the Port Hope ONroute Service Centre where they were met by Wayne Peterkin who offered lunch, beverages and a phone. Wayne said “whatever you guys want, lunch is on us.” He said “the goal is to make them feel at home.” After receiving their complimentary meals the group circled Mr. Peterkin and thanked him by chanting an Aussie cheer. One of the Australian travelers said “he has traveled all over the world and if he had to be stranded again, he would want it to be at this service centre.”

As reported by,

Northumberland News

Delaware Welcome Center

image of Michele Gentry

Michele Gentry

Brioche Dorée

On June 4, 2014, Mr. and Mrs. Jun Mahas stopped in the Delaware Welcome Center on a bus trip to New York. Unfortunately the bus departed without them. Mr. and Mrs. Mahas speak very little English and were nervous and scared in a foreign country and had no idea how they were going to get back to New York. They approached Michele and told her they were in trouble “bus left.” Michele assured the guests that everything was fine and she would make sure they got back to New York. She took them to the dining room, calmed them down and got them something to eat. Michele called the bus company and secured them a ride on another bus coming through. Michele stayed hours after her shift had ended to ensure the customers got on their bus and printed them detail instructions on how to get from the bus stop to Times Square. Thank you so much for helping my Chinese friend and her husband get to New York. They talked about you every day and you are the best memory of their U.S. trip.

Millions of thanks,

Rose Luo