No such thing as a free lunch?

October 21, 2009 (NORTHBROOK, Ill.) For people in this area, Red's Garden Center on Dundee Road in Northbrook is that neighborhood business that's been around like an old friend for a long, long time.

"My mom and dad started it in 1968," said Cindy Ullrich, co-owner of Red's Garden Center. "Always, always very friendly. We carry a lot of different products."

The late Red and Loretta Poehls always stressed to their daughters that the better you treat employees, the more faithful they will be.

"We get great, great homemade lunches every single day," said Steve Losey, Red's Greenhouse Manager. "And it's free."

Yes, a free lunch every day, seven days a week for the employees here, and there are usually 20 to 25 of them. A free lunch, and it's homemade.

Terri Jones, another daughter of Ted and Loretta and co-owner of Red's Garden Center, is the cook here, and she doesn't just hand out peanut butter sandwiches.

"Split pea soup," said Jones. "Homemade, there's a bone in there, cheeseburgers and apple crumble."

Cheeseburgers today, tomorrow lasagna or chili or some other favorite. Good free food. It's hard work's reward.

"I'd starve to death," said Patty Evanger, a 28-year employee, when asked what it means to her.

Just think what lunches cost today. That's the savings for these workers.

"It's like $1,800 a year that I save. That's a lot of money," said Jeff Sibley, Red's Nursery manager.

"They want to do more for you because they feel appreciated," said Jones.

"t's worth every penny. Every penny," said Cindy Ullrich.

So you're wondering, where do you apply? Forget it! There's a long waiting list.

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