How Gabby Morrison became general manager at Charlotte restaurant at just 16, earning $100K a year

Gabby Morrison has been working in her family’s restaurant since she was five years old, doing basic things like wiping down tables and stocking up silverware. However, her parents Shawn and Kiana made sure that she was paid for her work.

By age 10, Morrison was doing more than the above at the southwest Charlotte restaurant known as Nana Morrison’s Soul Food. Her parents told The Charlotte Observer that she started helping to place food orders, create employee schedules and engage with their bookkeeper, and she did these while still in the fourth grade. 

Morrison performed these tasks so well that at the age of 16, her parents decided to make her lead their second Nana Morrison’s location which opened this May in Charlotte’s Mountain Island area. For being in charge of that location, Morrison will earn $100,000 a year, The Charlotte Observer reported in April. The teen at the time said she will hold on with continuing her high school education to enable her to do what she loves — entrepreneurship.

“I don’t have the desire to go and put the effort in to do it,” she said of college. Curiously, Morrison is an honor-roll student and will also graduate early this December, however, she believes that being in charge of the family business is the best thing to do right now.

“I was like, OK, this is the next step in my career. I can do this now, or put my career on hold that I know is always gonna be here, and take another path, and it might not work out. So it’s like, just stick to what you know, and continue on with the restaurant business, and I can grow in it,” she said.

Nana Morrison’s Soul Food opened in 2011 after Morrison’s mother struggled to find a soul-food restaurant in Charlotte that she preferred. “I always cooked at home. Everybody always seemed to like my cooking, and it was just like, OK, I want to open a restaurant,” she explained to The Charlotte Observer. “That’s how Nana’s came about. It was no desire to get into the restaurant business. It just felt like a lack of the type of food we were used to.”

Along the way, Kiana and her husband made sure that all four of their children helped with the restaurant business despite their young ages, and today, they are in charge of affairs. Currently, 24-year-old Shawn Jr. manages the original Nana’s while Morrison runs the new location. Her position nearly went to another candidate until her father realized that she was the perfect person for the job. “I don’t believe in age (being a limiter),” Shawn Sr. said, adding that young people should always be given the opportunity to prove themselves.

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor is a writer and content creator. She loves writing about health and women's issues in Africa and the African diaspora.

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