When Maple Street’s first store opened in San Marco, one of their goals was to reach a community. To be more than just a restaurant, but be a place where relationships are built. It’s crazy the countless stories you’ll hear about team members and even guests that have something to say or a connection to Maple Street. We want to share a special one with you, and that special story would be Michael Burden’s. When Maple Street had just opened, Michael and his wife Morgan had recently moved to San Marco. They were young newlyweds enjoying their new chapter together in a beloved neighborhood in Jacksonville. One of the pages in that chapter involved them being regulars at Maple Street. Especially early Saturday morning trips to enjoy Sticky Maples and Five and Dimes. By becoming regular guests, a relationship was built between the Burdens and Gus Evans and Scott Moore. What one singular relationship does for some is amazing. For Michael and Morgan it meant leaps of faith and stepping into realms of the unknown.
We’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. So how does one go from guest to managing partner? Well, sometimes just by asking and being honest. Michael was working at an office job where he was content, but not satisfied. He wasn’t able to fulfill his passion: face-to-face interactions with people, not computers. What Michael wanted was a place where he could grow. Most of all, he wanted somewhere that would allow him to build relationships with others and make an impact in a community. He wanted to encounter people who he could help, whether it be guests or future team members. Being regulars, they were quite aware of the growth Maple Street had in store. At this time it was only San Marco and the Jax Beach location. With a few encouragements from Morgan, Michael decided to approach the idea of being a partner at a store one day.
The approach came at the perfect time. Murray Hill was just about to open and they needed a leadership team. Gus and Scott knew it’d be the perfect opportunity for Michael to learn more of the culture, values, what the business looked like, and to learn from a managing partner: Chelsea. Michael took the opportunity and spent a year learning everything he could from every possible person in Maple Street. He owes a lot to the Murray Hill location and to Chelsea. It gave him the hands on training he knew he’d need to have his own store before he even knew where it was going to be.
What really transitioned Michael from office job to unpredictable restaurant life was the mission and vision behind Maple Street. He was always attracted to the mission of Maple Street and wanted to be in an environment which he felt aligned with his own philosophy and principles. “What I love most about Maple Street is that it has a very clear goal,” he says. “At Maple Street, we know that no one is perfect. We hold each other accountable. We are more of a family and a relationship than a business.” He stresses that the Maple Street work ethic literally matches his own life ethic. That sort of opportunity is hard to beat.
Michael and Morgan weren’t just working in Maple Street but they were dreaming of places where their very own Maple Street would be. Close to Jacksonville? In another state? The unknown was scary but also quite exciting. When talks of the Tallahassee store were coming up, Michael immediately offered to move. “I told them, ‘If you need someone, I’d like to do it.'” They have family close to Tallahassee, so the location was perfect for them. They agreed to all of this before they found out they were expecting the cutest little baby! That cute little baby is Summer Eisley and she made her appearance in July! Despite all the stress of selling a house, finding somewhere to live, preparing for a baby, and prepping to open a new restaurant, Michael knows it was the right decision. He says that everything was made possible due to Scott and Gus.
Now that Michael is a managing partner, he has found a few favorite things about his position. One of his favorites is team building. “Not a day goes by where I don’t think of the next day and how the team will work,” he says. Another thing he’s excited about is that he is in a position to take on more responsibility. Michael knows that being partner is intimidating, but he knows that Scott and Gus won’t let him fail.
Michael is most looking forward to the continued growth of Maple Street. He was amazed and surprised to find that most of his guests in Tallahassee had heard of Maple Street, indicating how much the restaurant’s reputation has grown. “Maple Street proves that growth is possible,” he says. “Look how much I’ve grown!” Being a partner requires determination, motivation, a love for the company and two great mentors.
A lot has changed since those early Saturday morning runs to the San Marco Maple Street. We said it was crazy how an individual story can evolve, didn’t we? Some things remains the same, Morgan still loves the Sticky Maple and Michael still loves the Five. Only he switches it up with some shiitake mushroom gravy. If you find yourself in Tallahassee, please stop by and see Michael. We know he’d love to meet you and serve you in any way.