A popular Fort Oglethorpe restaurant has marked an important anniversary. Twenty years ago, the owners of Park Place made an important hire. Pat Gass has made a big impact on his co-workers, and thousands of customers.

Whether he’s in the kitchen or in the dining area, Pat Gass is making sure Park Place Restaurant is pleasing its customers. 

Owners Jack and Karen Goodlet hired Pat, who attended Lafayette High School, in 1999. He was a longtime family friend, and the fact that Pat is a man with Down Syndrome did not discourage them from putting him to work.

Jack Goodlet said, "He might as well be our spokesman. Everybody knows Pat. He is conscientious, he does whatever we ask, and he is a good-hearted person."

Although Pat has no official title, he considers himself an assistant manager, helping make sure the food is tasty, and the atmosphere is clean and inviting. Most important, he considers his restaurant co-workers part of his family.

Pat’s long term success at Park Place has inspired Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School teacher Nick Dunn to add his students to the mix. Several days each week, they learn valuable skills outside the classroom, and they are also regular contributors to the restaurant's success.  

On Pat’s 20th anniversary, the Goodlets hosted a luncheon in honor, inviting his family and friends to celebrate his hard work. There was even a gold watch for Pat.

The Goodlets say it isn’t easy to find and keep good, dependable employees.

Pat Gass’s 20-year milestone proves that if you love your job, you never really feel like you’re going to work.

Jack Goodlet said, "He has been a real blessing for us, and I know he will continue to be for a long time."

Jack's older brother John, who has passed away, was one of Pat's friends, and also worked at Park Place. He also had Down Syndrome. Jack says both his brother and Pat have been strong influences on his family and his employees.