Whitley a fixture at Malt Shop

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 5, 1999

Photo by Laura Skelding

Jessie B. Whitley thinks of herself as a workaholic. Eight hours a day, six days a week for the past 28 years she’s been one of the friendly faces behind the good burgers and fried food at the Malt Shop.”I enjoy the cooking,” says Whitley, whose favorite part of her job is working the grill. But, she says, “I can work it all, let’s put it that way.”As she stands in the close quarters of the kitchen pressed up against the grill, she moves mechanically with speed and precision.”She’s a remarkable person,” says James Ellis, owner of the Malt Shop, as he hangs up the phone from a call-in order.”She manages, orders everything, keeps inventory, paperwork, and she’s a good bookkeeper too.””I’m in charge of everything,” Whitley says. “I just don’t like the word ‘manager.’ We are all one &045; we work together.”And her modesty shows. After working all day to support her family &045; she has four children and six grandchildren &045; she goes home to her mother, Ruthie L. Griffin, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “I have someone stay with her until I get home, then I take over in the afternoon until the next morning when I get ready to go to work again,” Whitley says.On her day off, Whitley rests her nerves, and when she is off on every fourth Sunday, she spends the day in church.Everyone at the Malt Shop knows hard work &045; the place stays busy for the entire 13 hours it is open every day. But Whitley’s co-workers admire her for her values, her experience and her dedication.”They look up to me,” she says.”We can discuss anything with her, we ask her for advice and sometimes we even get mad at her,” said Patricia Smoot, who’s been cooking at the shop for five years.Whitley offers a bit of wisdom. “You’ve got to live, you’ve got to make it somewhere,” she says.

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