Once a home seller, the mayor now slings coffee | ParkRecord.com

Once a home seller, the mayor now slings coffee

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

More than a year after losing a high-ranking position in the real estate industry, Mayor Dana Williams has landed a job as a barista in a coffee shop in Old Town.

Park City Coffee Roaster hired the mayor on a part-time basis to work at its location inside the Kimball Art Center. He started on Monday. Williams makes coffee, mans the cash register and cleans dishes. He said he expects to work at the Coffee Roaster between 25 and 30 hours each week.

His only regular paying work since he lost the real estate position in mid-2008 has been as the mayor and as a singer and guitarist in the Motherlode Canyon Band, a rock ‘n’ roll outfit that frequently performs in Park City.

"I’m thankful for a job," Williams said about his hiring at the Coffee Roaster, adding that he enjoys speaking to the local customers and the visitors who stop in.

The mayor had been the managing broker of Coldwell Banker’s Park City office, a post he held for 18 months. As managing broker, Williams handled the day-to-day operations of the office and trained new brokers. He had been with Coldwell Banker as a real estate agent for nearly 18 years before his promotion to managing broker.

The real estate firm, though, requested he relinquish the job in 2008 as the housing market fell sharply. Executives said his mayoral duties did not leave enough time for him to continue in the position. His real estate license became inactive a year ago, Williams said.

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Williams said he has interviewed for a few jobs since the spring with companies in the environmental field, but the hours would have limited the time he could spend on City Hall work. Williams has made green issues a hallmark of his administration. "It’s very difficult to serve and be available at the rate the (mayoral) job requires and also have to work," he said.

The mayor’s post pays $23,004 in salary annually, and he is eligible for $13,728 in health and dental benefits each year. The benefits can be converted into cash. His car allowance as mayor is $3,000 per year.

He started the Coffee Roaster job amid his re-election campaign. Three people are challenging him, and a primary is set for Sept. 15. His schedule will likely become packed with campaign events as Election Day nears if he is one of the two candidates to advance out of the primary.

The recession has cut a deep swath through Park City’s top industries, with real estate, construction and lodging among the ones suffering the most. There have been significant layoffs around Park City, something that has not occurred since the economic-boom years started in the early 1990s.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Summit County in July, the most recent month for which statistics are available, was 5.8 percent, up from the 3.1 percent the state Department of Workforce Services tallied in the same month the year before. The statewide unemployment rate in July was 6 percent.

Rob Hibl, who owns the Coffee Roaster with his brother, said he was "mildly surprised" when the mayor submitted a job application. He said Williams has been a regular customer for more than 10 years.

A barista is a "professional coffee artist," Hibl said, and there are approximately 12 of them working at the company’s locations at the art center and at Kimball Junction. In a typical day, he said, two people apply for a job as a barista.

Hibl said the starting salary for a barista is approximately $11 per hour, and they usually earn between $6 and $10 additionally each hour in tips.

Hibl said Williams could excel in the position, saying the mayor has "great customer-service skills." Williams enjoys talking to a wide range of people, a trait of someone who succeeds in jobs at coffee shops, he said.

"It’s not every day you see a mayor pulling shots of coffee," Hibl said.