Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Welcome to Simplicity Gluten Free! What an adventure it has been to get here! I should probably share where we've been to give you an idea of where we're headed on our journey here.
In November of 2014, our family was settling into our new home in Madison, MS when we found out that my aunt had to have heart surgery and a dear friend of ours had passed away. My husband and I decided that I would travel to New England to be with my family for a few days and be present for my aunt like she had been for my mom before my mom passed away and I would also be present for my friend and her kids that had just lost their Hero.
Traveling with Celiac/Other Food allergies is always an adventure. I brought some Udi's muffins with me and maybe a sandwich. My flight was delayed, there was nothing but chips and soda to eat while in the airports and if you have ever driven between Boston and Auburn, Maine... well you know that the offerings are slim when it comes to gluten free foods and even more non existent if you have more food allergies than that. I had a really long day of traveling and was STARVING by the time I arrived at my other aunt's house in Maine. I had decided along my way that I was going to start my own restaurant concept and my safe foods that tasted amazing would be available in other restaurants, airports, travel centers, stadiums, hotels, and really anywhere else that I managed to get myself stuck and without anything to eat. I was so sick of being hungry everywhere I went and having few to no options... or being stuck with a salad or chicken. Blah.
My family in Maine was (rightfully) concerned about this idea of mine because at the time I had three kids that were in elementary and preschool. I stayed home because we just transitioned out of the Navy and child care was just too expensive for all these kids and the kids really needed the stability of a parent at home because their father always traveled for work. Ok, I get that but at some point mama has to go back to work. My friends on the other hand were ready to show up at the opening. (Hey, I'm holding all of you to it!)
So when I arrived home from my trip, I tell my husband my grand plan. He tells me the same thing that most of my family told me which was "you can't do that." Dude. Hush. Yes, I can. So I decided I would go to culinary school to get an education behind me before moving on and opening my restaurant concept that needed to have world domination because I was not the only starving person out there who just wanted safe foods to eat. I started culinary school the next semester and had a wonderful time learning from the late Chef Sally Porter at Hinds Community College. She and the other instructors made sure that we knew our way around the industry, the math associated and that we could run a business if we put our minds to it and worked hard. I loved Culinary School and came out with more than just an education. I was blessed with an extra little family. Literally. I am so grateful for the folks I went through school with and grateful that Chef Porter gave us the gift of encouraging those connections.
In December of 2015, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. In February he had surgery to remove part of his lung and by May we made the decision to move back to my hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida so I could help take care of my dad. I was just a few classes away from finishing three different degree programs at Hinds Community College. Culinary Arts, Hotel and Restaurant Management and Travel and Tourism. My husband's company was kind enough to move us back and he was able to keep his job.
By September 2016 we found out that I was expecting a fourth child. The pregnancy can only be remembered by morning sickness (I've never been so sick) and the dread of learning about half way through that my husband would be deploying for over a year not long after the baby was born. Kid 4 was born in May 2017 with a condition called Craniosynostosis which required reconstructive surgery on January 25, 2018 to give his brain and optic nerves enough room to grow. (Non profits that helped our family during this time included Every Smile Has a Story
Children's Craniofacial Association and Semper Fi Fund.This child is currently mostly doing well although he is not without his challenges. He is still in therapy a few days a week. While my husband was home for this child's surgery, he managed to leave behind kid #5 rather unexpectedly. Kid 4 did so much damage to my body during his pregnancy and his birth that my only option was to have a c section. This was compounded by the fact that I had placenta previa and wicked enough kidney issues to warrant having surgery while I was pregnant and that helped bring hubs back early. Kid 5 was born a month early thanks to the previa. He had a seizure on day 2 which landed us in a different nicu for several weeks and his poor little lungs were not ready yet. He ended up developing plagiocephaly while we were in the nicu and it just got worse. He is fortunate enough to see the same craniofacial team as my other son and has since had it corrected. While we did not expect either of these cuties to enter our lives, we are so grateful we have them. The baby still has his challenges such as a significant speech delay but is otherwise doing really well. We call him our "Sweetest Stuff" and the 4th kid is our "Hot Mess Express" because.. it fits. :)
In February 2019 we purchased our forever home in St. Pete, Florida and in May I was able to go back to school again. Life was starting to settle down a bit with the kids and the medical issues, hubs was home from deployment and not deploying again anytime soon and even switched companies again to give us more stability. The timing was good.
In May 2020, I earned my Associate of Arts degree.
In May 2021 I will have earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Business and Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship at 40(!) years old and in the middle of a pandemic!
So now that I have all of these things falling into place, even though we are still in the middle of a pandemic which crazy government mandates, I think it is time to work toward starting the restaurant. I am starting with literally *nothing* but some great ideas and an education.
Our start here is going to be a little bit different than how most restaurants get their start. Typically people go to the bank and ask for a loan. They might do some crowdfunding... I will do crowdfunding but I also like to earn my keep here so watch this space for affiliate links for the products I really like. I'll share recipes from time to time with the links to purchase the ingredients to make it or a link to just buy it already made by me. My goal is to be fully funded - as in funding for equipment and a building along with 6 months of expenses in the bank before I can open my doors. I deeply desire for this business to maintain a *DEBT FREE* status at all stages here so I am never having to tell a team member that I cannot afford to keep/pay them. Or that I cannot afford to support the community in times of crisis. Those would be two of my biggest fears so the way to eliminate that fear is to not go into debt. Also, I do not want to put my children's livelihood at risk so I am doing my best to set this up right. Please support us by clicking the links within the pages to purchase different items that you may be after on Amazon, gfJules,Tervis and other great companies. This will help us build our nest egg and get our start!
All my best,