Philip Donahue was 16 years old when he got his first job bagging groceries at Market Basket.
Over the years, he’s worked other places – at a real-estate office, a fitness center, and, for nine years, as a dishwasher at Hugh’s Restaurant in Lowell.
But for the last 20 years, Phil has has made himself as much of an institution at the Tewksbury Market Basket as the grocery chain itself. “It’s family to me,” Phil told the Lowell Sun. “I know all the people at the store and they’re all wonderful and cheerful and nice and generous.”
Phil, who is now a customer service representative, has worked for the Tewksbury-based company more than 25 years in total, and customers, co-workers and supervisors describe him as invaluable. “A lot of people just come to the grocery store to get groceries, but Phil makes it more of an experience,” said his manager, Gary Sessa. “If he’s not bagging on a register, if he’s on break, customers notice.”
Phil is a brown belt in karate, and runs the 50- and 100-yard dash events in the Special Olympics. He sits on the board of Lowell’s RARA (Recreational Adult Resource Association) and is a member of the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress’ Self Advocate Advisory Council.