Staff Celebrity Farewell: Eriberto 'Luis' Cruz
Job: Outgoing manager of The Incredible Bulk in Mt. Airy.
Since when: Summer 2012, although he’s worked for the Co-op since 2007.
Where he’s from/where he lives now/where he’s going: Tampa, FL/West Mt. Airy/back to Tampa.
How he got here: He first came to the Philadelphia area in the mid-’90s, working as a chef specializing in vegetarian cuisine at the All-Natural Market in Ardmore. He left after a year, but came back to visit in the early 2000s. The market’s owner mentioned that customers still talked about him, and offered to hire him back whenever he wanted. He returned in the summer of 2005 as head chef and part owner. The market went out of business in early 2007.
How he got to the Co-op: His fiancée at the time was a member, and told him about an opening for a cook. That job was filled before he could apply, but he asked about other openings and got hired as a part-time receiver in 2007, intending to stick around only long enough to save enough money to return to Florida. He began to pick up hours in other departments, including deli, grocery and home delivery. He went on to drive the truck for the warehouse, and later managed the West Oak Lane store for a year and a half.
Why he’s leaving: He’s going back to Florida to help his oldest sister, Noelia, care for their 90-year-old homebound mother, Rosa. (He’s the oldest of six and has a 29-year-old daughter, Christina, who also lives in the Tampa area.)
What he’ll miss about Mt. Airy: “I’ve lived and worked all over the U.S., but this neighborhood is one of the most generous, warm, embracing neighborhoods I’ve ever been in. …It feels like I’ve made extended family here. That’s one of the reasons that kept me here.”
Favorite Co-op products: Not surprisingly, a lot of bulk items, including mixed nuts, rice, oils, coffee and granola.
A lot of Co-op love: “I’m leaving the nest in so many ways. It does not feel like a job…I’ve learned so many new skills here; I reinvented myself here. The Co-op offers that. If you’ve got a certain skill set, they’ll feed it and encourage that.”