Paula Chester, 74, has been working for Peppers Grill and Bar since the restaurant opened in 1980. (Dylanne Petros Photo)
Paula Chester has been working all her life and she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
Chester, 74, is a waitress at Peppers Grill and Bar and has been working there since the restaurant opened in 1980.
Chester has lived in Roswell her entire life and first got into waitressing after she finished school.
“My first (waitressing) job was at Johnson’s Café,” she said. “I was a breakfast waitress.”
Before becoming a waitress, however, she worked at a drugstore in town.
“I was raised on a farm and I told my dad one time, I said, ‘you know, Daddy, if I can get me a job in town, I’ll give you my check if I just don’t have to pick cotton or bail hay,’” Chester said.
After working at Johnson’s for a while, Chester worked in the Army and the Air Force as a cocktail waitress in Chicago.
But Chester couldn’t stay away from Roswell and she came [auth] back to work at Peppers Grill and Bar.
“I went to work for them before they even opened,” she said.
Ever since she was young, Chester said she knew she wanted to be a waitress. While her siblings went through colleges, she wanted to be in the restaurant business.
“I told my mother one time I said, ‘Mom, I just want to be a waitress. That’s all I want to be,’” Chester said. “She said ‘well, why, Paula?’ and I said ‘because I like it and I’m happy there.’”
Chester helped the Roes, who are the owners of Peppers Grill and Bar, run parties and banquets before the restaurant opened. To this day, she still works the parties and banquet with Adam and Neil Roe, the current owners of Peppers.
“They’re the nicest people in the world,” Chester said.
Although Chester is 74, she still works because “that’s my life” and she “would never do anything else.”
“Neil asked me one time if I was gonna retire and I said, ‘well, when I’m supposed to be to work and I don’t show up and you call my house and I don’t answer, then I guess I’m retired,’” Chester said.
She has watched Adam and Neil grow up, which is one of the many reasons she loves working for a local restaurant.
“When you work for people like that … you’re not a number on the clock,” she said. “They care about you.”
Another thing Chester likes about working at Peppers is the fact that she has spent so much time there.
“It’s just my home,” she said.
Chester also loves being a waitress because of the people that she interacts with on a daily basis, like the customers and her coworkers.
Adam and Neil are both a huge part of Peppers Grill and Bar, Chester said, and always make sure the restaurant is in top shape.
“They’re very adamant about their food and how it’s served and you have everything you want at that table and my bosses go out and pick up pitchers of water and pitchers of tea, pick up dishes,” she said. “Whatever we do, they’re more than willing to help us do and that’s the way a good restaurant is run.”
Since a lot of the restaurants in Roswell are locally owned, Chester thinks that the way she is treated at Peppers would be the same at any restaurant.
“Ninety-five percent of the restaurants, I would say, that are locally owned are very caring,” she said. “It’s all family.”
Another part of her job that she loves is the banquets and parties that the Roes host because she loves getting to know everyone at the parties and have fun all while getting paid.
“What better job could you have than being a waitress?” Chester said.
Chester is grateful for the job at Peppers Grill and Bar and is proud of her workplace.
Since she is doing what she loves, Chester wants to pass that along to everyone else to remind them to follow their dreams.
“I just think people ought to do what they love to do and you’re just so much happier in life,” she said.