We had the good fortune of connecting with Angelica Sammons and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angelica, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
I have had recent first hand experience with this dilemma. The last couple years have been pretty wild in the restaurant industry. I circumvented a pandemic, barely. Had to play keep up with the supply chain breaks and hyper inflation. As profits get eaten away, change, and adapt. We’re barely hanging on, not due to lack of effort or even customer traffic, but an evolving world and changes brought on by circumstance. My home caught fire. We lost everything. Had to recover and rebuild. A stressful situation that devolved even further. So through no fault of my own I found myself at a crossroads. I needed to sacrifice, in order to maintain my sanity, a healthy home life, and be there for my family. I’d opened a crepe shop January 2021, It was doing well, but as a new concept, not nearly as well established as The Hidden Gem Diner. I chose to fold and walk away from Oh! Le Crepe on June 1. Choosing instead to focus more effort on the Diner, finish my degree, and be there for my children while they are home for the summer. I don’t feel like I “Gave Up” perse as I can resurrect the same concept anytime. I made an conscious, and purposeful decision, to sacrifice something I was passionate about for the things I love. Myself, my family, and The Hidden Gem Diner. I have history established there, more invested, and it has been a blessing to my family for 8 years. So while I gave something up, I gained so much more.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work is my passion. I have a healthy appetite, and even more so an obsession with creating recipes. I am not very artistic in the music, or painting sense. My plating, I am sure, leaves much to be desired, but the flavors will inspire and intrigue you just like great music, or a whimsical painting. While I could spend more effort on plating, clean lines, etc. I’d rather be over my stove tossing random ingredients into a pot recreating that one recipe idea I had been daydreaming about. I take great satisfaction in bringing my ideas to life. When I hit that sweet spot, and know it’s perfect, and everything I was hoping for. I couldn’t be more excited.
Professionally, I started out with an idea, that evolved into Freezerlicious. A family style frozen meal service. we ran for a few years. From there, The Hidden Gem Diner, was brought into reality. I have been operating The Hidden Gem Diner for 7 years. Two different locations. We had to fold, at one point due to structural issues in our building, and resurrect it again a year later in a different location. We rode out the pandemic, barely skating by, unlike a lot of my friends in the food industry. We survived. It is so heartbreaking to know how much soul, goes into a venture like this, then watching the dominoes fall one by one against insurmountable odds. So many people I care about lost so much!
Thanks to my support system, I managed to come through, and expand. I no longer had a savings, so had to borrow money to launch the Crepe shop, about 6 months in that was paid back. However, I recently closed that location. After surviving a pandemic, a new launch, a year and a half running multiple locations, our home lives were turned upside down. A major housefire, relocation, replacing everything, etc. I was feeling the strain on my mental health, kids, and life in general. Had to make the conscious, and purposeful decision to reel in some of my responsibilities and focus on my priorities. It’s never easy to walk away from something you’ve put that much into. Sometimes, it is necessary though.
The lessons learned along the way, are invaluable. The people I’ve met are priceless. The pride you feel in creating something from nothing, having it be as fulfilling as you’d imagine, is insurmountable. I can honestly say, even through the trials, and heartbreak. I would do it again. Everytime. Investing in myself is worth it!!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Underground tunnels: Business district Chinatown: East Downtown Houston
Kemah Boardwalk: Specifically Crazy Allen’s Swamp Shack! WOW
Galveston Beach: Ride the ferry to Bolivar Peninsula to avoid the crowds.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Well this is the longest list imaginable: My spouse: Stephen Sammons for having the faith in me to let me chase my passion, and providing a stable foundation for me to build on.
My employees: Eric Croteau, The Hidden Gem Diner’s Master Cook, Brian Hoke, My right hand man, he’s fantastic! Brandy Richardson, my left hand (wo)man, has my back at every turn from the beginning, every employee in between that has dedicated their time to helping us build a solid customer/fan base.
My friends: To many to list, for the undying support, the shoulders to cry on, the walls to bounce ideas off, the great advice, the comradery.
Special mentions: The Saddrudin family, for the roof over our heads, Don and Janet Carpenter, they had faith, and lent it to me, until I had faith in myself. A debt that can’t be repaid. THANK YOU!!!