If you are a student at the University of Louisville, here’s to hoping that at least once in your years as a Cardinal you have stepped foot into Cardinal Burger Company and have had an encounter with Mr. Jim. He’s the wonderful, jovial man who always seems to have a smile on his face.
James E. Bronger Sr., or Mr. Jim, has been working at CBC for the past six years. Every year, he tells himself that this will be his last year, but fortunately for us, he always stays.
Bronger was drafted in 1965 during the Vietnam War and joined the Army reserves. Although never drafted overseas, he shared grief like many Americans when his friend passed away in Vietnam. From there, he went on to raise his family, sending his children to Catholic schools. He is now retired from his job as a city bus driver.
“I really enjoy this job. I do it not because I have to, but because I like being around people,” said Bronger.
His favorite food item on the CBC menu are the sweet potato fries. His second favorite items are the Petrino Blitz burger (with bacon) and the Go West burger. Some days, however, he prefers to get the chicken quesadilla.
One of his favorite things about working at CBC is seeing how hard the students are working – only for him to walk around their table to see Netflix on their screen.
“They have their computer and I think they’re studying, but they’re just watching a TV program,” Mr. Jim said, laughing. “I get a tickle out of it.”
In his free time, the 69-year-old enjoys going to bars around Louisville.
“But I’m not an alcoholic,” he said, laughing. “I only drink two beers.”
He had a bit of advice to give to college kids as well.
“There is nothing wrong with drinking. Just as long as you control it and don’t let it control you.”
Bronger also enjoys singing karaoke and talking about sports with his friends. His favorite song to sing is Low Rider. His favorite sport is football. His favorite team? The Louisville Cardinals, of course. If Bronger could be reincarnated, he said he’d like to be a linebacker for football. He has the entire football schedule for U of L memorized—a true die hard fan.
Bronger is a family man with two children, two grandchildren and one great grandson.
“We’re a small family, but we’re a close family,” he said.
When told that he’s a staff favorite amongst students, he humbly smiled.
“I try to treat (the students) like their grandfather. They’re away from home and studying, so it helps to give them a bright spot in their day,” he said.
When asked about his thoughts of U of L students, he said, “You’re in college, and it’s not easy. You’ve got classes and studying and exams, and for anyone who is in college, I tip my hat to them. You want a better education to have a better job, for a better life. You’ve earned it. Everyone wants a good life but you have to work for it.
“I wish I knew all of their names but I don’t,” Bronger said. But he added he recognizes most of the students’ faces inside CBC.
Since the viral Facebook post of Bronger attending church services at Our Mother of Sorrows, students have approached him, showing screenshots on their phones. To this, he has been overwhelmed by the students’ love and affection. Bronger said that he does this not only for U of L students, but for the faculty and staff of the university as well.
Finally, Mr. Jim had a message for the students at U of L: “When you see me in the halls, or on Fourth Street or at a ball game, you can say hi to me. It means a lot to me, to know that they recognize me, and know me and like me.”
Photo by Sarah Rohleder / The Louisville Cardinal