Maple Street Story: Brad Cummings Old City

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Sometimes life is funny, but you already knew that, didn’t you? What’s really funny is going from enjoying a delicious Five, to being one of the Community Leaders in Maple Street. Well that’s the very brief version to Brad Cummings story. Brad is our community leader to our recently opened location in the Old City of St. Augustine, Florida. We dug deeper to figure out exactly how Brad went from enjoying a biscuit to becoming a part of our family. It honestly started there; he kept seeing people post about Maple Street through social media and decided to check it out. He ordered a Five and said he not only fell in love with the food, but the atmosphere as well. After that day, he started reaching out to friends and to co-founder Gus Evans to learn more about the business.

Brad had been working in food for 9 years, so he had a great understanding of what it took to run a business. His dream for quite some time had been to run his own restaurant and provide for his family. Speaking of his family, they are quite adorable and love eating Maple Street as much as we all do!

His wife Leslie and two daughters, Piper and Ellie, have their favorite menu items, but more importantly they’re the support system and motivation to Brad’s dream to run his own business.

The Cummings favorite menu items

Brad: The Five

Leslie: The Farmer

Piper: Bacon and a Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ellie: Iced Cinnamon Pecan Biscuit_MG_8869amandalenhardt

Brad wanted to work at Maple Street no matter what, and was willing to fall in love with any community. He secretly wanted the Old City location, but thought someone else was already running it. Luckily, he was the perfect fit, and the opportunity was there for him to have it. He wanted to be a part of the community, because it’s where he first wanted to live with his family, and also say he worked in. Not only does it have the history of being the nation’s first city, but the places to explore were great. There are plenty of genuinely kind locals, but he also gets to interact with people from all over the world being here. Flagler College is just outside this community store’s door, and on Brad’s list of things he wanted to accomplish was to impact the students for the better while being there. He has that great opportunity by having a team made up of students and graduates from Flagler.

A question we ask ourselves and each other within Maple Street often times is, how have you grown since day one? It’s honestly a question anyone should ask themselves. We asked Brad, and his answers were short and sweet. First, he said, “being compassion.” We don’t just say a core value is gracious service, but we hope that our team will learn to live them out. From grace begets compassion, and compassion is never kept to oneself. His second was caring for a neighbor. We don’t call any store a chain or a franchise, we call them after the community in which they are in. Caring for our neighbors doesn’t just fall in a geographical category, but into a reference of whoever walks through those doors and is greeted by Brad. If we learn something, we practice it, and end up infusing it into our culture. This is the type of leadership you have to look forward to when you’re enjoying a delicious Iced Cinnamon Pecan biscuit. He doesn’t view it as a “have to do this,” he views it as an opportunity and a “get to do this for our guests.”

We’ve all wanted a location in St. Augustine for quite some time, but the timing was perfect and we can’t wait for the great success and the stories to come out of this community. Please go meet Brad, if you haven’t already!

Maple Street Story: Michael Burden FSU

4Z8A0876maplestreetWhen 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.

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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.

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Maple Street Story: City Center’s Zeke Arter

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They say life is made up of a million little moments that happen to you along the way—short blips in time that can later define your future without you even realizing it.

That’s exactly what happened to Zeke Arter, the partner at our Chattanooga community store. It’s all because of a chance meeting between his wife, Shanda, some 20 years ago that would eventually lead Zeke Arter down a path he never expected: business owner and biscuit maker.

Scott Moore is the founder and visionary behind Maple Street Biscuit Company in Jacksonville. Before his name became synonymous with the best biscuit on the First Coast, he lived in Chattanooga, Tennessee with his wife, Robyn, and their three children. It was there that Robyn met Shanda 18 years ago at another sandwich shop called the Bagel Market. As women tend to do, they easily struck up conversations that led to a lasting friendship between the couples. So much so that Zeke and Shanda asked Scott to officiate their wedding in 2001.

In 2012, much to the Arter’s surprise in Tennessee, they got word that Scott had left his job with a national grocery chain to pursue his new passion: biscuits. And his vision of a community store featuring southern comfort food with a modern twist was taking the Jacksonville food scene by storm.

As all good friends do, the Arter’s made spring break plans to travel to Florida, support their friends, and really find out what this Maple Street was all about. Zeke recalls waiting in line to place his order in a packed store. All he could repeat in his head in disbelief was, “It’s just a biscuit. This packed for just a biscuit?”

Well, it didn’t take long for Arter to be “pleasantly surprised.” He was so surprised that three years later he still remembers his first order: a Sticky Maple, Hashups and of course, an Iced Cinnamon Pecan Biscuit as well. He and his family were so impressed that they implored Moore to open another location one day back in Tennessee.

Fast forward almost a full year and Zeke Arter was in a place he never expected. It was February 2014 and he was professionally unhappy. The stress of giving energy to a job where other people didn’t seem to care was taking its toll. Unexpectedly, he had a thought; he should be the one to open the Maple Street store in Chattanooga. He texted his wife on a whim to gauge her shock value, and much to his surprise, she immediately said “Okay.”

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When Zeke got the news to Moore, he quickly found himself down in Jacksonville at a Maple Street Biscuit Company—this time behind the scenes to get entrenched in the culture to see if this could really be his dream too. For three days he was with Chris Sears at the new Jacksonville Beach store making sausage gravy and simultaneously picking the minds of team members about the culture and the atmosphere. When Zeke went to leave, Moore urged him to take a week and go home and pray about it with his wife before giving him his final answer. It was a quick seven days with no looking back.

By September 2014, the Maple Street Biscuit Company was up and running on Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga. It was the company’s first location out of the state of Florida and still is today.

“It has been an adventure to say the least,” recalls Arter. “It’s been full of highs and lows, successes and failures.”

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In less than one calendar year, the Chattanooga store is already firmly entrenched in Chattanooga’s increasingly bustling downtown and its ever-growing “foodie” scene. The team has hosted Hollywood actor Elijah Wood and film crews from Nashville based CMT (Country Music Television). They’ve racked up more than 145 Yelp reviews in 10 months, and more than 100 reviews on Trip Advisor where their biscuits and gracious service rank as the fourth best overall restaurant experience in Chattanooga.

“It’s humbling to say the least,” says Arter.

But for him, the success stretches far beyond the restaurant’s front door. The Chattanooga team has already had a chance to impact Young Life, the UTC Campus, and be involved in community events such as Riverbend, boat races, the Ironman and the Half Ironman.

Also, Arter shares some of his team members who were previously homeless are now back on their financial feet through Maple Street. Many young teens are also getting invaluable first-time job experience.

“It’s two times harder that I thought it was going to be.” states Arter. “I’m having to be responsible for my team and the business. It’s more challenging … and more good.”

 

Arter Family Maple Street Favorites:

Zeke: The BLT and the Five and Dime (which is impressive since growing up he didn’t even like gravy).

Shanda: The Chicken Club

Kaylea: The Five

Lexi: The Sticky Maple

Brooklyn: David Hashups

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Maple Street Story: Murray Hill’s Chelsea Harrelson

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When Chelsea Harrelson walked into the first-ever Maple Street Biscuit Company in San Marco for a job interview, she told the nice man she met, if hired, she would not be there long. She just wanted to see how someone goes about opening a restaurant.

Three years later, Chelsea runs her own store, and she credits that “nice man” – Maple Street founder and owner Scott Moore – with saving her life.

In 2012, Maple Street Biscuit Company was Moore’s dream along with his business partner Gus Evans. It was coming to life right before their eyes in San Marco’s bustling neighborhood while they constructed the inside of the restaurant. Chelsea only knew of it as that new place down the block. The 20-something had just lost her bartending job nearby, because the place went out of business. She quickly found another gig tending bar, but she was looking for a second job.

“I was there to make money to afford food,” she said.

She remembers walking into the new biscuit place, which offered early-morning work shifts that appealed to her. She could work 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. almost everyday.

Within the first two weeks, she was working nearly 80 hours a week and catching two-hour cat-naps in between shifts.

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Concerned, Moore and Evans sat her down. She remembers them asking, “What do we need to do for you to be okay?” Caught off guard by the level of compassion, Chelsea remembers being uncomfortable and rendered speechless. After all, this new restaurant had only just opened within weeks itself. Then that compassion went a step further. They offered her a raise and the promise of more responsibility.

Chelsea knew she had told Moore she wouldn’t be there long and that it was her dream to one day run her own restaurant, and yet, good things were still happening for her.

“Honestly, I think initially, my honesty got me the job. And for some reason, I still don’t know why, but Mr. Scott saw something in me,” she said.

A few more weeks passed, and Chelsea received another raise and a new title: assistant manager.

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She was still behind on bills, but she was quickly getting caught up. Then one day Chelsea remembers Moore asking her to step outside alone. Panic and anxiety set in. After all, those one-on-one chats with your boss are 99.9% bad news, right?

Moore again took a concerned approach. He’d noticed Chelsea had worked holes into her shoes, noticing she’d sometimes wear red socks to camouflage the holes in her favorite red Toms. She remembers him saying, “You look scared.” She recalls admitting she was nervous, thinking he was going to fire her for it. She just didn’t have the money for a new “luxury” item like shoes.

What she didn’t realize was Moore still wanted her to be okay. He walked her to a boutique down the block and bought her a new pair of the red Toms she so adored – no strings attached. Chelsea remembers being so awe-struck she couldn’t bring herself to wear the new shoes for a week.

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Today when she tells the story you’ll hear, “Mr. Scott is my mentor, not just my boss. Boss doesn’t do it justice. Through mentorship, he’s helped me better respond to life, both personally and professionally. He’s helped me to set a budget, to be a better listener, to open up and not be so shy, and to have a vision for the future.”

That future found her helping fellow director Chris Sears open the company’s second location in Jacksonville Beach. Then came the opportunity of a lifetime. Moore told Chelsea he’d found a perfect spot in Jacksonville’s Murray Hill neighborhood for the company’s third community based store location — a spot he’d picked just for her.

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On opening day, July 17, 2014, she cried. No longer living just to work while struggling to afford food and shoes, she was now given the opportunity to help others, just as Moore and Evans had done for her.

“It’s the best opportunity in the world to be able to help somebody,” she shares. “Sometimes, it still feels surreal.”

Murray Hill is a community on the mend, desperate to overcome neighborhood blight and crime and ready to embrace revitalization: much like Chelsea found herself when she found her way to Maple Street.

While still under construction, Chelsea remembers a car tearing up to nearly the front door and a passionate woman jumping out to hug her and exclaiming, “Welcome to the neighborhood!!” The soon-to-be new customer was just joyful to have new business to help give the community an economic facelift. Another customer has told Chelsea she hopes the store will help turn the neighborhood around so she can one day sell her house.

A tall order, she admits, but Chelsea graciously states, “I’ve just never felt so welcome before.” Her store is now a meeting place for church groups and a spot to host surprise birthday parties, baby showers and bridal showers, and of course the best spot around to grab a warm biscuit and some locally-brewed Red Leaf Maple Tap coffee.

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Waking up at 5 a.m. never gets easy, she will tell you, but she comes alive when she walks through her store. So much so that Chelsea even comes in all alone to the store on occasion when the biscuits aren’t churning just to reflect on how far she’s come.

“I gave a (a team member) a Christmas card this year to tell him I was proud of him. He came and hugged me and cried and said no one had ever told him that before.”

A full-circle moment not lost on Chelsea Harrelson.

Chelsea’s Maple Street Favorite

Well, they’ve all been her favorite biscuit at one point.

If she had to pick, currently, it’s the Garden Egg.

Oh, and she’s obsessed with our bacon. She eats it every day.

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Maple Street Story: Jacksonville Beach’s Chris Sears

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For Chris Sears, the road to Maple Street was a long one to get him back home where he belonged.

His first job at 12-years-old was in the kitchen. It wasn’t just any kitchen; it was his mother’s up and coming gourmet-to-go restaurant in Philadelphia. After school, Chris would eagerly hop to Primarily Pasta, ready to wash dishes or make homemade pastas. He likes to joke it was his mother, Mrs. Lockee, who was on the cutting edge of Italian food, when people stopped calling all noodles spaghetti and started calling them pasta.

However, biscuits were still nowhere in sight for Chris.

Years passed and Chris found himself married in Jacksonville and dreaming of one day owning a restaurant. He and his wife Michelle thought maybe in retirement they’d finally have a chance to open their own fine dining restaurant or possibly even a charming bed and breakfast.

Later. Down the road. Not now. There wasn’t enough time.

There was too much stressToo much work to be done.

A job that wasn’t so much a dream; it was a living. Fearing the restaurant industry meant late nights away from his future family, Chris and a friend opened a granite company in North Florida. He thought it would mean better hours, greater job satisfaction and assurance as an owner, and thus, a manageable schedule for his family. The reality was his business wasn’t a 9-5 job. Instead, it was more like 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and a lot of sleepless nights due to mounting stress like so many small business owners face in today’s working environment.

Increasingly unhappy and with three growing children (Ian, Harris, and Sarah), Chris craved change. He reached out to an elder at his church to help him with his resume and find the next challenge.

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That elder was Scott Moore: the founder and visionary behind the new up-and-coming Maple Street Biscuit Company. With the first restaurant thriving in Jacksonville’s San Macro neighborhood, Moore was looking to do more. And he too had long believed there were better ways to work. He thought people should always be treated with respect and that work shouldn’t make you miserable.

He recalled Chris had restaurants in his blood. One day after church, he confided in Chris that Maple Street Biscuits was looking to expand, and more importantly – did he want in?

That question couldn’t have come at a better time, says Chris. It was an opportunity that was a life-changing blessing for his entire family: a joyful purpose with better hours, less stress, and at a time he’d never imagine he’d need it the most.

Within two months of finding and remodeling a store, Maple Street Biscuit Company’s second location was up and running on August 15, 2013. The community was falling in love and Chris was finally finding happiness again. Sure, some moments can be stressful, but he says they’re just that: a moment that passes and not a way of life.

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The balance couldn’t have come at a more critical time for the Sears family. A year after opening, Chris’ wife was diagnosed with cancer. Through chemo and radiation, Chris says he was humbled by how his team members rallied around him to help, and how customers in the community offered support. Customers offered their prayers to his family, and he was blown away by how truly concerned they were.

But that’s just it, says Chris. Maple Street is a family.

Whether you’re a part of it from the kitchen as a biscuit maker, sandwich preparer or a smiling face on the register, or whether you’re the first time customer through the door or the resident regular, our team hopes the “community feel” touches every single person who passes through the doors — even the store directors.

“It’s so simple that it’s brilliant,” says Chris. “It’s an amazing concept. The mantra of ‘easy to do right and hard to do wrong.’ It’s so entrenched. It makes it easy to have fun and enjoy working together and possible to tackle any obstacle.”

Chris Sears is not the same person he was three years ago. Gone, he says, are his days of living as an intense, skeptical and doubtful person. Now, he hopes you always see him greeting you with a smile — and maybe an Iced Cinnamon Pecan biscuit at your table.

Nowadays as Maple Street continues to grow, many Jacksonville Beach customers often stop Chris to tell him how they feel they too have a piece in Maple Street’s success. When family and friends come to town, they take them to “their” store to share the entire unique experience.

As for his mom, she’s traveled from her home, now in Tennessee, to give Chris and his biscuits her seal of approval.

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Sears Family Maple Street Favorites:

  • Chris: Five and Dime
  • Michelle: Squawking Goat
  • Ian: BLT
  • Harris: The “Sticky” Farmer (his creation of the Farmer covered in Maple Syrup)
  • Sarah: Sausage “retro” biscuit

Fun Fact:

The tables in the Jacksonville Beach store are different than all other stores. That’s because days from opening the distributor didn’t deliver. In desperation, Chris called his former granite company, which provided many table tops in just a day and a half. At the same time, the husband of a San Marco team member built the 14-top table from scratch with lumber he picked up from Home Depot. He also built the table bases for all the granite tables – all in two days. Then, as Chris puts it, nearby World Market was his “savior” with so many other tables on hand. “We loaded them up, and the Maple Street Biscuit Company family had an assembly party in the hours before opening.” And that is what family is for!

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Robyn’s Pecan Pies

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We’ve decided to take the opportunity in this news section of our home page to start sharing stories and history of Maple Street with our guests. We think, if it interests us and makes us love being a part of Maple Street more, then our guests would love knowing as well. For our very first post, we thought it only fitting to introduce you to Ms. Robyn, whose pecan pies have become quite famous in all of our stores. We know from working in all of the stores how delicious they are, but we figured spending an afternoon baking in her home, we could find out why she loved baking pies and how they got onto the menu.

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Let me officially introduce you to Ms. Robyn. She is the wife of Maple Street’s owner and founder, Scott Moore. Let me just tell you that our afternoon baking – well, watching Robyn bake – was so much fun. We were reminded of our culture and got to hear all the fun stories from her point of view on opening up Maple Street. If being the wife of the owner and founder doesn’t give you any inclination as to what it was like, let us just say, it was hard. There were many long days of baking and cooking. We have to applaud her for all her hard work, even in the very beginning, when Maple Street was just a thought.

Robyn’s love for baking pies didn’t just occur in the past couple of years, it started while she was growing up in Indiana. Her mother would make pies for her father once or twice a week. She says she still does this and her father still eats them all up. When it was time for Robyn and her sister to learn how to make pies,  it became very difficult. Not that they weren’t  both naturals at baking, but her mother never measured anything! Her and her sister worked extra hard to figure out the proper measurements. You know those pies probably tasted extra delicious after all of that hard work. Since it’s on the menu, we had to ask if pecan pie must be her favorite pie to make. Nope! Apple pie is her absolute favorite pie to bake and eat. What gives? Where’d the pecan pie come from? She quickly let us know that Mr. Scott’s favorite pie to eat is pecan pie. Of course it is! We had so much fun baking, talking about Maple Street, listening to life stories, and deciding whether pecan pie is better eaten cooled off or right out of the oven. Take a look through our afternoon.

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We know, our mouths have started to water too. Robyn’s pecan pies can be found in all of the stores. If you need a larger pecan pie, let us know in advance and we’ll be happy to make one. We especially love those orders around Thanksgiving and Christmas time.

 

Fifth Location!

It’s true! We recently announced our fifth location! It will be in the neighborhood of Julington Creek in Jacksonville, Florida! 1627 Race Track Road. We’re so excited and we’ve been working really hard! As soon as we have more finalized date of opening, we’ll be sure to share!