Allyson Kirkland - Feeding Those Who Are Broke, Hungry and Down on Their Luck
You don’t have to even go INSIDE an Etowah restaurant to see its owner has a big heart.
On this week's 'Pay it Forward' we recognize the woman behind a small, family-owned business that’s inspiring an entire community.
Our story begins in a bustling grocery store parking lot off Highway 411.
That’s where we meet Dinah Johnson who can hardly wait to ‘Pay it Forward’ to her favorite chef just down the road.
Dinah tells me all about Allyson Kirkland. "She's got Allycakes down here (Etowah). She celebrated her second year last month and she's wanted to do this all her life."
Allyson’s mission is clear - through both taste and grace.
"She's got a sign outside that reads, 'Broke and Hungry Fed Here' and she's been feeding quite a few people," Dinah says.
Owning and operating her own catering, bakery and restaurant business has been Allyson's childhood dream.
"(She's) a good all-around person and has the greatest cupcakes in town," Dinah exclaims with a chuckle.
It's time to 'Pay it Forward', so Dinah and I head down the road and quietly walk into Allycakes.
Allyson emerges from the kitchen.
Dinah tells the speechless cook who's preparing lunch for her loyal patrons, "On behalf of McMahan Law Firm and NewsChannel 9 I want to 'Pay it Forward' to you for all the good that you do!"
She counts out $500 in cash to Allyson who thanks Dinah and Brenda Pryor, an Allycakes employee, who also helped arrange for the day's big surprise.
Allyson says, "She (Brenda) told me my husband might be bringing a group in from work and that I might want to put my makeup on this morning!"
Brenda doesn't hold anything back when it comes to her adoration for Allyson and the backbreaking work that’s gone into building this new business.
Brenda tears up as she walks forward and says, "She's (Allyson) been open for two years and she has struggled. She's seen people come in here that are struggling and not charged them, whether they've said 'don't charge me.' She just doesn't get enough credit and that's BEFORE she put it on her sign."
I ask Allyson what inspires her kindness and creativity in the kitchen.
Allyson tells me, "Well, my favorite thing to play when I was a little girl was play waitress and I would always would take my daddy's order. He was my only customer. I'd get my pen and paper and take his order."
This past March Allyson’s father passed away but her family’s mantra lives on in her new business.
She says, " I was raised: waste not, want not. That was kind of our motto growning up. So, I'd always rather see something eaten. So, if it's a little bit of soup or a little bit of chili or a batch of chicken salad that needs to go, there's always something to feed somebody that's broke and hungry and down on their luck."
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