What does it take for someone to stay in the fast food industry for 28 years? Find out from Fonstella Gosa, general manager and 28-year employee of Jack’s in Bessemer.
From Backline Cook to General Manager
Originally from Detroit, Fonstella made her way to Bessemer when she graduated high school to start school at Miles College. With two small children to care for, she took a job as backline cook at Jack’s in Bessemer.
What started out as a much-needed job to provide for her children, soon became an ever-blossoming career with a life-long family.
Little did she know that she would still be with the company at the same Jack’s location 28 years later.
Fonstella may have stayed at the same Jack’s location, but her career has done anything but stand still.
From her first days as a backline cook to breakfast manager, an assistant manager and first assistant manager, she has worked her way up through the ranks from bottom to top. She is currently the general manager of the Jack’s in Bessemer—a position she has held for the past 13 years.
“Over the years I’ve grown bonds with people and the company has been really good to me. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve grown each step I’ve taken.”Fonstella Gosa, General Manager, Jack’s
It’s a Jack’s Thing
What’s interesting about Jack’s is that it’s very common to find employees who have stayed with the company for many years, working their way from the bottom to the top.
People are always growing and getting promotions at Jack’s, which is something you don’t often see in a fast food industry. But at Jack’s, helping employees advance their careers and improve their personal lives is their passion.
“We are growing more than 15 stores a year across the southeast, which allows more opportunity for us to promote our people and help them grow in their careers.”Julianna Hallman, Marketing Strategy and Planning Manager, Jack’s
In fact, some of Fonstella’s very own crew members have worked alongside her for years. One example is Bessemer’s Biscuit Maker Cheryl Davis. Davis has worked alongside Fonstella for 26 years.
What is the Jack’s Difference?
One of the most important things to know and understand about Jack’s is that it is much more than a fast food restaurant. It’s a family.
Just take a look at Jack’s mission: “to serve quality homemade food with genuine Southern hospitality, from our family to yours, everyday.”
See, the word family is even in Jack’s mission.
Okay, so you may not be able to see it through the drive thru window, but walking into the store, you will quickly understand what I mean.
Though the Jack’s in Bessemer shows off the company’s latest design after undergoing a total rebuild in May, the overall vibe is that of an old-fashioned corner store. It’s a place where locals drop by regularly just to say hello to the staff.
In fact, Fonstella said that her long employment with Jack’s has allowed her to get to know those in the community better. She’s even had the privilege to watch many employees and customers grow up.
“We’re like a big family,” said Fonstella. “We fuss, but if something happens, we are all there for each other. I feel like the customers and crew need me. We need each other.”
Her employees feel the same, and dote on her for the family atmosphere she strives to keep at Jack’s.
“I’ve been working in fast food restaurants for a very long time. Ms. Stella goes further than the job. If something is wrong outside of the job, she’ll check on you and make sure you are all right. She’s a good person.”Clovice Hubbard, team member, Jack’s
Never Too Busy For Family
During my interview with Fonstella, there was one thing that was perfectly clear—she is one busy woman!
The Jack’s in Bessemer is one of the company’s highest volume restaurants. The stream of customers is nonstop and the works are quick so they can keep up with the fast-paced environment.
At this particular location, Fonstella is in charge of 55 employees. Yes, that is definitely a lot of folks to be in charge of! She is also responsible for paperwork, sales input and pumping up her staff for the day ahead.
Jack’s caters, too. Just before our interview, Fonstella and her trusted crew were busy organizing a catering order for 500 biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon, and grits. That’s a whole lotta food and takes a true leader to ensure each step of the catering process runs smoothly.
It also takes real teamwork, which is a value Jack’s instills in its employees.
What I was really amazed to see was that even through Fonstella’s hectic schedule, she went the extra mile to interact with customers. She’d check on them to ensure they had everything they needed. She even made time to create hand-scooped shakes for those who ask specifically for her milkshakes because “hers are the best!”
“We are Jack’s Family Restaurants and I think Fonstella embodies that family value wholly and completely. If you look around, this is the place to come to and everybody in Bessemer knows Fonstella because of how long she’s been here. To me, she is Bessemer.”JJ Torres, Area Supervisor, Jack’s
I even got the chance to speak with one of Fonstella’s biggest fans. And trust me, she has many!
“She is wonderful. She tries to help wherever she can. [My family] has enjoyed her for many years.”Brenda Davis, customer, Jack’s
We couldn’t interview a Jack’s employee without asking what their favorite Jack’s menu items are.
So what does Fonstella love most? The sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit and Jack’s chocolate shake.
Visit Jack’s in Bessemer and try them out. If you’re lucky, maybe Fonstella will even whip up one of those special chocolate shakes just for you so you can discover why “hers are the best!”