As an operating partner and franchisee at Domino's Pizza in Sherwood, Lolly Jones has to make sure her store is ready for just about any eventuality.
You never know when someone may phone in a last-minute pizza order for a socially distanced birthday party, neighborhood gathering or wedding rehearsal dinner. She also has to make sure there are plenty of toppings in the pantry: Italian sausage, pepperoni, onions and more.
Running a pizzeria certainly has its challenges, but 26-year-old Jones also finds times to support her fellow citizens during these difficult times.
While still in high school at age 17, Jones' first job was at a Domino's in Shelton, Washington. She became an assistant manager at that location, and while attending Olympic Community College in Bremerton, Washington, her intent was to get into a nursing program.
"It wasn't necessarily the medical field that I was looking at, but I just really liked the idea of helping people," Jones said. "That was my only goal, and I thought, OK, well, the medical field is a great way to help people."
But life tends to have its twists and turns.
Jones put in her one-month notice at Domino's, where she was working at the time, thinking she could be working at a hospital for the rest of her professional life. Jones wanted to see what other jobs would look like.
"Two days after I put in my month notice, I got a call from a franchisee," Jones said. She was being offered a chance to stay on with Domino's — as a general manager at a Domino's store in the Hoquiam area, on the Washington Coast.
"I took it," she said. "About six months into it, I was able to get a new management team, turned the store around and just fell in love with the job all over again."
About four years ago, Jones moved to Sherwood from Shelton. She has found Sherwood to be a good fit.
"It's a big small town," Jones said. "There's a lot of character to it. Ever since I moved here, I have just been very welcomed in the community. It's been fun living here."
When she gets those precious few minutes of time away from Domino's, Jones enjoys the outdoors.
"I've been here four years. I have a great management team," she said. "I love everybody who works here. They do a really great job, so that's given me the opportunity this summer to actually kind of have a life."
Jones enjoys hiking, swimming, volleyball, basketball and track.
"I just got a couple of new kayaks, so I've been out in the water as much as I could," she added.
But a normal summer it has not been, with a coronavirus that is not going away and unrest in the country following police incidents, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Jones took time out to attend a Black Kids Matter Unity Event that was held in Sherwood this July.
Jones said the event allowed Sherwood's citizens to listen to what fellow citizens had to say.
She said, "There's such a political divide — it just needs to stop being about the left, and stop being about the right. It's just, like, how can we move forward?"
Jones added, "I am a mixed, Black and white girl. I've had issues with racism, but at the end of the day, luckily, I was able to realize that those were few and far between. The majority of people didn't have an issue with me. Luckily, I had a great support system, so those insults, any issues I ran into didn't hit me as hard as they probably did other people."
Jones recalled the mood of the country in the days following Floyd's death.
"Everything was crazy," she said. "All I could see through that was just desperation, sadness, anger."
While she understands those feelings, Jones said, to her, it "seemed like the message was very unclear."
She added, "For me, it feels like, at the end of the day, you just need to be kind and compassionate and be loving to each other."
But through this turmoil, Jones saw the need to be helpful to others: "By just being me, and being loving and kind, and helping anybody I can, that's me using my privilege, as a business owner, for others."
At Domino's, Jones has had to adjust to the pandemic.
"Just like everybody, it was very scary," she said. "I know for a lot of businesses, it still is."
Pizza shops have had a bit of a leg up as dine-in service has faced heavy restrictions, something Jones appreciates.
"This business was essentially built for a pandemic," she said. "This store, specifically, has never been a dine-in, so we're not losing that service."
Jones continued, "We offer delivery, which became huge when restaurants were closing down. We doubled up our sanitation, we created contactless deliveries and contactless carry out. We did as much as we could to keep people as safe and comfortable as possible. Luckily for us, it's been business as usual."
Jones enjoys her job and looks ahead to the future.
"I love my job and I can't wait to expand and just provide more of this type of atmosphere for more people," she said.
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