In 1998, I followed my parents, brother and sister and moved to Athens, Georgia. I still had not finished my degree but was interested in The University of Georgia. While studying at the UGA, I waitressed at Kelli’s Home Cookin’ in Loganville GA and fell in love with southern cooking. In 1999, my dad became very ill with cancer and passed away in the summer of 2000. Shortly after his death, I graduated with a BS in Consumer Foods from The University of Georgia. Y’all, this was an enormous accomplishment for me; having struggled terribly in school as a child and coming from a hard working, yet very blue collar family college seemed impossible for many years. Graduation day was one day I so wish I could have shared with my dad.
In the spring of 2001, I was hired by the Department of Food Services at the UGA where I managed McWhorter Dining Hall. McWhorter was specifically for the athletes. We served lunch to roughly 300 athletes a day and we catered most all events requested by the Athletic Department. Upon Coach Dooley’s retirement, McWhorter was closed and torn down. I then went on to manage Snelling Dining Commons; at that time we served between five and seven thousand students a day! My work at the UGA was fantastic experience and very rewarding. However, in 2005 my son and I developed health issues that caused me to resign my position with the UGA.
Roughly, a year later we were managing our health issues well and I was itching to work again. I felt a strong desire to work for myself and had a vision. 2006 and half of 2007 was a busy year, spent planning for the restaurant. September 17, 2007 was the day Rachel’s Southern Style Restaurant opened for business.
I began working at 14 years of age at my parent’s pizzeria in Buffalo NY. I worked on weekends during the school year and 10 hours a day 7 days a week during the summer months, my parents paid me $2.00/hour back in 1986. I watched them struggle with their business and felt the regret they had for taking on such a difficult and demanding business. Much of my family has been in the restaurant business at some time and as a young adult, I continued to work at their family bar and restaurants. When I was 16 yrs old I was washing dishes by hand every Friday and Saturday night in a very busy restaurant. Eventually, I worked as a cook, hostess, waitress and bartender while pursuing my degree at Buffalo State College where I studied Food and Nutrition.
Rachel Hammond (& kids)