When people hear the name "Burlington," their minds are filled with images of the city's unique landmarks: Church Street, City Hall, and the puzzle pieces that spell "democracy". But, for some of us, the first thing that comes to mind is Handy's Lunch.
Located on Maple Street and hidden from the Church Street commotion, Handy's is a family-owned restaurant that has been around since 1945. Three generations of the family have contributed to the success of this restaurant.
But it's not only the family members that feel at home here. Handy's is a place where it is okay to come in alone-the friendly atmosphere makes loneliness impossible. Every person who walks in the door is greeted with a smile and is welcomed as if they were a part of the family and, according to current owner Earl Handy '95 "family is everything."
The comfortable atmosphere is what makes this restaurant a favorite among Burlingtonians. Once you have visited Handy's once, it's almost required that you return a second, third, and hundredth time. It feels like home: "Mom is still here," says Earl Handy, the Champlain graduate who currently owns Handy's Lunch. Earl graduated from Champlain in 1995 with a degree in Public Relations. Although owning a family restaurant may seem like a strange career for a P.R. major, it makes sense for Earl Handy. "The restaurant kind of chose me," Earl says. When he graduated, Earl had dreams of working in radio: "That was my passion," he says. He had never planned to work in his family business. However, shortly after graduation, Earl's father passed away. Earl felt compelled to return home, and then "it all made sense," he says.
Although his plans changed dramatically, Earl made sure his Champlain degree did not go to waste: "Everything I do is public relations," he says. As the owner of a restaurant, Earl needs to know how to get people to come to his business. He also needs to know how to interact with customers. His degree in public relations has helped tremendously.
Earl learned a lot about the basics of P.R. from Champlain, but he says that "P.R. has to do with who you are on the inside." Earl describes himself as the type of person who will talk to anyone. His friendly and personable nature allows him to use the skills that he learned at Champlain to help his business thrive. "Champlain was good to me," Earl says. He met his wife, Alexis Segrue-Handy '95 at Champlain: "She's the brains behind the operation. I'm the face, but she makes everything work."
Earl's only regret about going to Champlain is the fact that he was not able to have Elaine Young as a teacher. Elaine brings some of her marketing classes to Handy's and Earl says he has learned a lot from her about the use of social media in business. Handy's now uses Twitter and Facebook to promote their business.
Handy's continues to thrive, and always welcomes new customers. For Champlain students who are looking for a place with a comfortable atmosphere, or just looking for a great meal, Handy's is the perfect choice.
~Christina Etre '14