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A Journey of Resilience and Vision: The Inspirational Story of Wesley G. Simon

In an illuminating interview, Wesley G. Simon shares his compelling journey from working at Burger King at the age of sixteen to becoming a prominent executive chef and entrepreneur. As the driving force behind multiple thriving restaurants, Wesley's story is one of resilience, unwavering determination, and an unyielding commitment to his community.


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Wesley Simon - Photos by Curt Saunders

Starting from Humble Beginnings


Mr. Wesley's journey began in the most unlikely of places—on a bus commuting to work at Burger King. “Oh my God, it started in a bus on my way to work at Burger King at 16,” Wesley reminisces. Living in East Orange, New Jersey, he traveled long hours to Lanshurst for a modest job that would ignite his passion for cooking. It was during this period that he honed his leadership skills, rising to the position of supervisor at just sixteen years old.


Even from an early stage, it was evident that Wesley possessed an innate drive and leadership qualities. His time at Burger King, and later in various kitchens, sowed the seeds of his culinary career. "My leadership skills shone early,” he proudly asserts. This tenacity ultimately paved the way for bigger opportunities and more significant responsibilities.


Embracing Challenges and Overcoming Adversities


Wesley's path to success was far from smooth. He faced numerous challenges, including systemic racism and workplace discrimination. "When I decided to open the restaurant, something crazy happened. It really kills me when it happened. And it went back to basically race." Wesley recounts his struggles with a sense of resoluteness, highlighting how he refused to allow these obstacles to deter him.


His determination saw him through multiple professional setbacks and instances where less experienced individuals were promoted over seasoned kitchen veterans. These trials only served to fortify his resolve. "I don't care if it is my own mom and dad, it’s my turn to start living the life that I want best for me," Wesley declares with conviction.


A Vision Beyond the Ordinary


Wesley adopted an unconventional outlook on life and his career, never content with merely adhering to societal norms. “I’m against conventional life wisdom,” he explains, emphasizing the importance of pursuing one’s passions and talents. Although he initially pursued a degree in computer networking, his heart always belonged to the kitchen. "I kept quitting the computer network job...being in the office, I'm stressing more than when I was in the kitchen.”


His foray into the restaurant business began with modest steps, leveraging personal savings and taking calculated risks. By opening his first restaurant with merely $10,000, Wesley demonstrated an unparalleled boldness. "We are running out of money, we need to crack this door open," he recalls as a testament to the leap of faith taken alongside his business partners.


Building Community Through Gastronomy


Opening his first restaurant in February 2020, just before the pandemic, Wesley faced unprecedented challenges. Yet, his adaptability and the support of his local community steered him towards success. "I was making the most money during COVID with outdoor seating because people were scared of going to other neighborhoods," he says, highlighting how he turned adversity into an opportunity.


Beyond just running a business, Wesley's vision extends to uplifting others within his community. By providing guidance and support to aspiring restaurateurs, he hopes to instill a sense of ownership and pride among black entrepreneurs. “If anybody need any help, shoot us an email,” he offers generously. Wesley envisions streets filled with thriving black-owned businesses, creating a supportive ecosystem for generational wealth and abundance.


The Road Ahead


As Wesley continues to expand his business empire, his vision remains clear—breaking barriers and redefining success. With three restaurants now in operation, his goal is to build lasting legacies. "I'm gonna create something where my kids, my grandkids, will be able to eat like Jay Z's kids," he says with confidence.


Wesley's journey is far from over. He emphasizes the importance of focusing on personal growth, learning continuously, and being courageous in the face of challenges. "Put your blinders on, drive towards your goal like a Kentucky Derby," he advises aspiring entrepreneurs.


Conclusion


Wesley G. Simon's story is one of inspiration, resilience, and vision. From humble beginnings to becoming a beacon of hope and leadership in his community, Wesley’s journey illustrates the power of perseverance and unwavering belief in oneself. As he continues to build generational wealth and inspire others, his legacy will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the culinary world and beyond.


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