Millions of Americans drive through a fast food restaurant at least once a day. We expect, and most times get, the familiar product. What we don’t expect is to leave feeling like we’ve just met one of the most promising young people to ever cross our path.
At the end of her shift one day last week I had the honor of meeting Brittany Biggerstaff. She is a graduate of Century High School and travels to Vienna from her home in Grand Chain five days a week. This 26 year old single mother works full time while attending West Kentucky Tech majoring in culinary science. She has worked as a CNA, at the new casino boat in Cape Girardeau and at the Metropolis Dairy Queen. Brittany spoke fondly of her time as a restorative aid with stroke patients. She left the casino, and good money, when patrons began to make her feel uneasy; the most alarming was when a patron followed her at 3 a.m. one morning. She gained experience working at the Metropolis Dairy Queen before coming to the Vienna store which she says is a joy to work at.
When asked about future plans, she said with excitement, “Well actually I’m at the beginning of my five year plan.” Brittany explained that she is in the first part, her formal schooling, but says she is in no hurry. “I want to learn along the way. I’ll make mistakes, but you own it and learn from it. It’s good to ask questions and have guidance, with time comes experience.” Her ultimate goal is to open a restaurant in old downtown Paducah. “I want it to be a comfortable fine dining experience with hardy home cooking and good wine,” she said.
Brittany explained she has loved to cook since she was a child. Her eyes danced when she talked about being creative with spices. A specialty, and stress reliever, is baking. Already known in her community for her signature cupcakes, her largest order to date was for 200.
Although one of Brittany’s creations has both ooey and gooey in its name, she is very serious about nutrition and issues of diabetes and childhood obesity. She is interested in working with ingredients that are lower in fat and sugar and offering food in smaller portions that still leaves the customer feeling satisfied.
She spoke of her dad’s love for making wine and will incorporate his wine into her restaurant which she intends to name after her daughter. It is a part of her dream that her daughter will be brought into the business which would then be three generations working together.
The idea of these three working together would be an extension of how they operate at home as a family. Brittany lives next door to her parents who she credits as having raised her to believe in her dreams, to work hard by doing things herself, and who give her never ending love and support whereas her daughter is concerned. She beamed when she told me her dad’s favorite old saying of “You don’t need to boast or bring attention to yourself. Be like cream, it always rises to the top.”
Without question, Brittany is very proud of her daughter. She spoke of the child’s education in a very humble way explaining her age, grade and reading level. I used the term “gifted” and she beamed. Although eligible for a free public education, Brittany pays for her child to attend a private school as her daughter was advancing more quickly than what the public experience addressed.
When asked what it is like working with the public she said she enjoys all the people she meets and has only had one customer become angry. She quickly explained the topping on his sundae ran over when it was handed to him and that he had a right to be angry. “People want what they order and that sundae had not been made properly. I take pride in DQ products and find details like the curl on the cone interesting.”
Brittany explained how the machinery can sometimes operate differently causing a change in the consistency of the ice cream. But she quickly added that a worker has to take self responsibility and hold themselves accountable which she feels her co-workers do. She spoke highly of the team of folks she works with both on the line as well as management who she says works with employees trying to understand personal life demands and adjusting schedules accordingly. “I’ve never worked for anyone like them before,” she said with a thankful tone in her words.
Margaret Thatcher once said about success, “I think it is a mixture of having a flair for the thing that you are doing; knowing that is not enough, but that you have to work hard and with a sense of purpose.” I think Brittany Biggerstaff is Thatcher’s idea of a young woman with a successful future ahead. Five years from now when she opens her restaurant in Paducah, I’ll be there for opening night and hope many of you from Johnson County will join me.