Employee Spotlight: John Obertubbesing
Serving up delicious bread runs in the family for John Obertubbesing. His parents ran a bagel shop in Manassas, Virginia, where he grew up, and his uncle is ThunderCloud co-founder John Meddaugh. So it was a baked-to-perfection idea that John move to Austin and join the sandwich-making team at ThunderCloud when he graduated from high school in 2005.
He has worked at several locations over the years, including E. Riverside, Guadalupe, 12th Street, and Lavaca. Six months ago, he became manager of the Riverside and Congress shop. With a decade at ThunderCloud on his résumé, John says he loves his job because of the fun people he sees every day — employees and customers alike. (The smoked chicken with avocado on white bread is a great perk, too, he says.)
When’s he’s not mixing up a fresh batch of avocado spread or closing out cash registers, you can find John in one of three places: on the ice, in his woodworking shop, or perched on a rock wall. A lifelong hockey player, John plays forward left wing in two adult hockey leagues. He’s at the rink three or four days a week, and the practice pays off— one of his teams made it to the league finals last season. John says he loves the speed and the teamwork that hockey requires (and the cold air that makes him nostalgic for real-deal Virginia winters).
John often swaps his skates for climbing shoes. A regular at the Austin Bouldering Project, he has also climbed at Reimers Ranch Park along the Pedernales River. (Insider’s tip: It’s also a great place for swimming, he says.) John developed a passion for climbing thanks to his best friend in high school and frequented the Great Falls National Park area in Virginia before moving to Austin. “Climbing is a great coupling of mental strategy and physical challenge,” he says.
Mental strategy also comes into play for John in woodworking. “Turning a design into a finished piece is a very dynamic process, and I’m always figuring out how to solve problems,” he says. “I love that.” A theater kid who built sets in high school, he now makes fine furniture like tables and cabinets— walnut and mahogany are his favorite materials. In 2009, he took a two-year hiatus from ThunderCloud to study under the famous designer Gary Rogowski in Portland, Oregon. Though it’s mostly a hobby, John occasionally sells custom pieces and is always looking for a bigger workshop space.
He is also constantly on the lookout for the newest, tallest, steepest, and scariest roller coaster. A coaster aficionado, he still remembers the thrill he got riding the Alpine Bobsled coaster with his dad in Lake George, New York. John even founded a Meetup group in Virginia called Thrill Nerds to connect with other amusement park enthusiasts. Though none of the coasters in Texas elicit quite the terror he likes, he has been known to drive to Cedar Point, Ohio — the Roller Coaster Capital of the World — where he camps for the weekend and rides the park’s famous coasters.
Thrill-seeking aside, John is most content in Austin with his wife, Mallory, and their two dogs Marley (a Tibetan Terrier named for Bob) and Darwin (a Cocker Spaniel named for Charles). John is a big fan of craft beer, especially Live Oak, and frequently tries new brews at Austin Beerworks, which is near one of the ice rinks where he practices. With man’s best friend, man’s best sandwich and man’s best beer at the ready, John has all the thrills he needs right here at home.