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Meet Angela Johnson of The Serving Spoon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angela Johnson.

Hi Angela, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My Dad, Harold E. Sparks and his now ex-wife JoAnn started this business in 1983. They soon divorced and my Dad continued to build the business with his 1st ex-wife, my Mom Brenda Sparks. After great success and loads of amazing memories, he decided to retire in 2004. At that time, my husband single-handedly decided that we would purchase the restaurant from him. So my Dad sold the restaurant to us and we have continued to grow it into what it is today. We have three adult children who have actively been involved in the business on one level or another at some point in their lives. Now we have a grandson, so who knows how he will eventually be involved as well.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
It has been a fairly smooth road along the way. The main obstacles that we seem to face the most are staffing issues. Because we have a small family like environment, people tend to become too familiar and comfortable to where everyone feels like family and it’s been said that it’s difficult working with your family. So we have to be mindful of creating boundaries with the staff. Also, just being creative and continuing to make sure the restaurant stays viable, considering there are thousands of places for people to go eat, so we have to make sure they choose us. Then when the COVID pandemic hit. That has been the most challenging experience in our 37 years of business. At one point, we were in serious jeopardy of closing our doors but we reached out to the community to help us stay open and they came through for us in a major way. We still are not bringing in the numbers we once were when we were open fully, but we are at a point now where at least the customers are coming and making purchases which is what keeps service businesses thriving. So we thank God for that.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We are a full-service family-owned restaurant and have been in business for 37 years. We are a pillar in the community of Inglewood and support the community in any way we can. We serve up great food and great customer service. Customer service is a lost art and really hard to come by these days so we like to make sure our customers are happier when they leave than when they arrived. We specialize in breakfast and our signature dish is fried catfish, grits and eggs. I would say our unique breakfast style, great food and customer service, our positive vibes and family atmosphere, and genuine concern and ability and desire to feed the people (mind, body, soul and spirit) is what sets us apart from others. Brand wise we are most proud of our ability to connect with the community and offer great service and great food. We would like for our readers to know that we genuinely care about them and always want them to feel good about where they spend their hard earned money. That we appreciate them because we realize there are many other places they can choose but they choose us and for that we are grateful

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Our community as whole deserves credit. We have had so many people to support us throughout the years. I think mainly my Dad Harold Sparks played a major role in the ability to have the opportunity to make this restaurant a success because if he didn’t create it, we wouldn’t be here. Then I would say my husband JC for having the vision (especially when I didn’t) to take it to the next level and make it what it is today. Then I would say people who have supported us and given us great advice and guidance throughout the years. Then I would say that when the pandemic hit and we were possibly close to closing our doors, we did a Go fund me fundraiser and the whole community kicked in with their finances, prayers, kind words of encouragement and purchases to help us stay open. Then I would say because of our fundraiser, we received the biggest donation we have ever received and that came on behalf of the Rams organization by way of Andrew and Melissa Whitworth! They donated $50,000.00 to us. They have never eaten at our restaurant before and probably had never even heard of it before it was shown via the media. The love they showed us was amazing and heartfelt. They gave from their heart and genuinely wanted to help us in our time of need. They along with the community understood that we matter to the community and are a crucial and necessary entity in the community and decided to help in a major way.

We also had Loretta Devine and her husband Glenn, William and Helen Young, and Mara Akil Ali who also donated generously to our establishment and all of it was greatly appreciated. We had no idea people loved us the way they do. The support, by way of purchases, wise words, encouragements, and prayers that so many have shown throughout the years is so worthy of acknowledgment because it is true that teamwork makes the dream work and so many have played such a monumental role in being a part of our business. Many of whose names we may never know and some that we have met along the way whose names we simply can’t remember because we encounter thousands of beautiful souls yearly. Above all and the most important of all is we thank God for finding us worthy to be on this journey and that He sees fit to entrust us with the care of the community and the undesirables that society discards and gives up on. He has seen to it that His grace is sufficient and He gives us what we have need of to feed the people, hire the people, support the people, be a solid landing place for the people, be a place of comfort and stability for the people and just be here for the people……..for them for such a time as this.

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Images courtesy of The Serving Spoon personal camera

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