Gnelle Israel wipes down the Rite Aid Coffee Shop counter and clears dishes near the end of her shift at the Asheville diner, one of last to still operate in the drugstore chain. “With so many regulars, they’re just like family,” Israel says. “I see them more than my own family.” Jacob Biba/Carolina Public Press
By Jacob Biba, Carolina Public Press
Gnelle Israel has worked at the same Asheville coffee shop, in what is now the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Merrimon Avenue, since 1972.
Born and raised in the Enka-Candler area, Israel first began working at the company’s Patton Avenue location, in downtown Asheville, soon after high school. At lunch one day with her mother at the coffee shop in the Haywood Street location—where her mother worked for 14 years—she met the supervisor, who said he needed help downtown.
“I started working a couple hours and then kept going up in hours,” she says.