Of all the stories I have, my Maple Street story is my favorite to tell.October 2016, I found myself very discouraged. I had graduated from college that May,and the “dream job” I had accepted and moved to a new state for turned out not to be what I wanted at all. I quit the job that I had begun to hate, and started waitressing. I had worked in food service since I was 16 and waitressed my way through college. I started waitressing again just to have enough money to pay bills while I tried to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.Very unexpectedly, I felt myself starting to really enjoy the type of work that I had always done just to get by. I was thinking more and more seriously about a career in the restaurant industry, but I had a lot of questions. I had no idea how to get started on that career path, or if it was exactly what I wanted to do long term. It was just a thought- one that I kept coming back to and eventually decided to entertain further.I called my mom for advice, and we discussed my constant thoughts about a career in the restaurant industry. I expressed how curious I was, but how I just wasn’t sure because I had never managed a restaurant or anything like that before. I mean, how do you really know for sure until you just do it? My mom mentioned that a former coworker of hers actually owned a few restaurants in Jacksonville, and that she could reach out to him to see if he could offer a job shadowing opportunity. It seemed like the perfect way for me to see if the restaurant industry was where I wanted to be.That former coworker of my mom’s was Scott Moore.We set up a job shadowing to take place during the opening weekend of the Fleming Island store. I had never been to a Maple Street before, and had no idea what to expect.I remember telling someone the day before I left for Jacksonville that I felt like my whole life was about to change.Well, I was right.It did not take me long to see that Maple Street was different. It had a heart and soul that I felt as soon as I walked in the door. I talked with Scott for a while, and then Scott recommended I talk to Chelsea Harrelson about what it was like to own and run a Maple Street- to be a “Community Leader.” So, I did just that. Chelsea did not talk about her job in the way that most people talk about their jobs. She kept telling me about this mission, impacting a community, and how Maple Street “saved her life.” Like I said, I had worked in restaurants ever since I could work, and no boss or manager that I had ever had talked about running a restaurant in this way. I was very eager to learn more.I immediately felt at home with Maple Street. I didn’t feel nervous or uncomfortable during my job shadowing- I just felt like I fit. That is the best way I can explain it. I just fit.Lucky for me, I was not the only one who felt that way.On the second day of my three day job shadowing, Scott asked me what I was looking for in a career. I had done a million job interviews since graduating college and this was a common question. When Scott asked it, however, it was different. He wasn’t trying to interview me, I felt like he genuinely just wanted to know. So, I answered very honestly. I told him that I know that I am going to put every ounce of my heart into wherever I end up working and whatever I end up doing. It will be a huge part of my life. What I was looking for was somewhere that I could care about with my whole heart, and they would care about me back. He smiled, and told me something that I will never forget.He said, “After your first day working here, it was obvious you fell in love with Maple Street. After your second day working, I can tell you that we fell in love with you, too.”He asked if I would be willing to move to Jacksonville and work, with the idea that someday I would own my own store. It was a pretty big leap of faith, but the love I had already felt in my three days at Maple Street was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I could not pass it up- my heart wouldn’t let me.Less than one year later, I became the Community Leader of the Parsons Alley location in downtown Duluth, GA. I have the best job on the planet. Every morning, I stand on the front steps of my store, and I reflect on my journey- how one conversation about life with my mom led me to owning a restaurant where I get to spend my days leading an incredible team and loving the heck out of a whole community. My Maple Street family completely changed my life, and I am grateful every day.
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