Last week, my law partner Mary and I had the opportunity to attend the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Roundtable which featured Martha Hawkins as the guest speaker. If you are from the Montgomery area, you are probably familiar with Martha’s Place. Ms. Hawkins owns Martha’s Place which is a restaurant featuring homemade Southern cuisine. The story about how Ms. Hawkins made her restaurant a success is truly remarkable. Ms. Hawkins spoke about her secret to her success at the luncheon. Her faith in God and a strong belief in her ability was the key to making the restaurant happen. She did not have a mentor, a business plan or any money! She said surrounding herself with encouraging friends was a must.
Mary’s Perseverance and Faith
She dropped out of school to get married at a young age because she was pregnant and then later divorced. After losing job after job, she eventually had to go on welfare. She endured a series of health issues which caused her to eventually try to commit suicide. After being admitted to a psychiatric unit, she got closer to God and her Christian faith. This change led her to getting her GED. Growing up, she had learned to cook at her mother’s side. Her dream of owning her own restaurant began after securing a loan to fix up an old house in Montgomery. With help from the community she was finally ready to open her restaurant.
A Common Story
Ms. Hawkins’ story resonated with me since I hear so many clients who have tried to open businesses and fail. The common thread in my client’s unsuccessful experiences seems to be incurring a lot of debt to open their business without a plan in place. Ms. Hawkins took her time, incurred very little debt and had a product that the public was “hungry” for before she opened her doors. Ms. Hawkins wrote “Finding Martha’s Place: My Journey Through Sin, Salvation and Lots of Soul Food” if you are interested in reading her complete story and getting some of her delicious recipes.
Gail Hughes Donaldson is a Managing Partner of the Bond & Botes Law Offices in Montgomery and Opelika, Alabama. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. She’s been helping families work through the bankruptcy process since she started with Bond & Botes back in 1993 as a paralegal. Read her full bio here.