Judith Wishnek didn’t have much of a learning curve when she started her new job last month as general manager of the Akron Woman’s City Club.
That’s because she had the job before.
The Cleveland native and Kent State graduate was general manager for one year from 2010 to 2011 at the Akron Woman’s City Club. But then she got recruited back to a former job at the Chagrin Valley Country Club, where she had worked for five years.
But Wishnek didn’t burn any bridges and felt the pull back to Akron.
“These ladies are so sweet and that’s why I came back, because of their dedication and their passion and their work ethic,” said Wishnek of the 91-year-old private club established in 1923 on West Exchange Street.
“One of the women said, ‘We fell in love with you when we first met you and then we lost you and now we have you back again.’ It was just so sweet. I am back here again. This is my last hurrah,” said Wishnek, 56.
Wishnek started her career in the state auditor’s office and spent years as a stay-at-home mother to her now two grown daughters. The family lived in Miami when her husband of 34-years, Jim, was in the advertising industry. But the family moved back to Cleveland when a college friend of Jim Wishnek wanted to open a restaurant.
But not before the family lived through the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. They lost their two-story house as they sought shelter in a one-story neighbor’s house across the street.
After rebuilding the house, the family moved back to Ohio, where they owned and operated a family restaurant in Middleburg Heights, called Instant Replay Sports Grill, for 11 years before selling it in 2004. The restaurant has since closed.
Wishnek used her food-service experience from the restaurant to work at the Chagrin Valley Country Club as the dining room manager and beverage supervisor. She then took the job for one year in Akron before returning to Chagrin Valley as director of food and beverage and part of its executive management team.
Wishnek said the vision of the Akron club and the legacy brought her back.
The club started as a place for women whose husbands were members of country clubs. They would gather for educational and philanthropical enrichment.
And today the Akron Woman’s City Club is actually not just for women.
Though the majority of members are older women, Wishnek said one of her goals is to increase the membership of younger women. A provisional membership for young professionals is $80 for four months compared to the $900 for a full yearly membership and $565 for a junior active membership for women under 40.
Other levels include a dining-only membership for $405 and a men’s associate membership for $765.
Wishnek said in addition to lunch daily from Tuesday through Saturday and dinners on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the club offers activities and networking events. The club also is home to the Coach House Theatre, open to the general public.
“There’s just something here for everybody,” said Wishnek. “I want to be part of preserving this legacy in the Akron area.”