It’s a very cold day in the heartland of America. Overnight snow, sleet, and freezing rain blanketed the city. In the morning hours following the cold night, a small business owner is putting ice melt around his restaurant. He looks up to see a young man walking across the parking lot. Neither the young man, Jhaquiel Reagan, or the owner of Papa Roux’s, Art Bouvier (also known as Papa), knows that this encounter will be the beginning of the story that will leave a lasting impression on any who are fortunate enough to hear the tale.
The story, which began with cold and ice, was sparked by a simple question. Jhaquiel asked Papa how far it was to 10th Street and Sherman Avenue. Papa informed him that he was at least six or seven miles away. He advised Jhaquiel that he would be much better off taking the bus instead of going on foot. Politely, the young man thanked Bouvier and continued on his way. What Papa didn’t know at the time was that the
young man didn’t have the money for the bus. Jhaquiel was walking the almost 10 miles to a job interview for
a position at a minimum wage job. Instead of asking for assistance or money for the bus, he simply allotted himself the necessary time to make the trek and trudged along in the cold and ice.
If the story stopped here, it would be a great example of someone doing something kind for a deserving stranger. However, this is only the beginning. Papa was so impressed by the young man’s drive that he offered Jhaquiel a job at his restaurant later that day. In an interview with a local television station about the situation, Papa stated, “I’m thinking to myself, here’s a kid walking almost 10 miles in the ice and slush and snow for the hope of a job at minimum wage. That’s the kind of story your parents used to tell, my parents used to tell, up both ways in the snow.”
Making the story even more impressive, the young man reportedly had to quit school at the age of 16 after his mother died so that he could help care for his siblings. He had completed his GED, but was having problems finding work.
While Bouvier wasn’t sure if he was busy enough to hire an additional worker when he made the decision, he told The Blaze that, due to the reaction about the situation, he does now. Papa’s decision is the complete opposite of the greedy, self-serving attitude we see so often from executives. While Jhaquiel demonstrated a drive that is often missing in young people, Art Bouvier demonstrated that small business owners can still get it right.
This story was particularly fortuitous because, only one day prior, I had stopped for lunch at Papa Roux for the first time. Not only does this man deserve the attention he is getting for his actions, he runs a truly inspired restaurant. They specialize in Po-Boys, Creole, red beans and rice, and a fantastic corn bread among others. They even ditched the corporate drinks and opted to go for local handcrafted sodas. I intended to return to the restaurant after my first meal, but I can say that Papa Roux has earned a loyal customer due to the selfless actions of its owner. I encourage anyone visiting the Indianapolis area to take the time to look up Papa Roux and stop by for a meal. You won’t be disappointed.