We had the good fortune of connecting with Mary Ann Ledesma and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mary Ann, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
This is such an important question. We spend so much time working in the hopes of being able to build something bigger than ourselves for our families to enjoy, but in the process, we tend to forget about the here-and-now. Balancing work and personal life is crucial for not only your heart and mind but for your family as well. We are 100% the definition of a family-run small business. On any given day, you will see one of our kids at the restaurant, folding pizza boxes, or answering phones, but we also make sure to allow ourselves at least one weekend day per week off in order to have family time away from the restaurant. Prior to purchasing Jackpot, Gabriel and I both worked in finance, and there were weeks that went by in which we felt that we had to go home and see how old the kids were now, as they were growing so fast, and we were missing out on so much due to long hours, travel, and an endless workload. Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still have to juggle things, because anyone that thinks that owning a restaurant is easy probably shouldn’t be in the restaurant game, but we have learned the importance of time away from work, allowing messages to be answered the next day, and delegating certain tasks to our employees for the sake of our own sanity.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
We started with a desire to make good food for good people. As you know, pizzerias are not hard to come by in our city, however, we wanted to do something a little different. We make everything by scratch, do pizza toss and top classes, pizza camps for the kiddos, and are always looking for new ways to incorporate a love of food and family into everything that we do. When we bought Jackpot, we had to win over a lot of people that had bad experiences with it’s previous owners. We did that the old-fashioned way—by foot. We literally went around the neighborhoods, met our potential customers and neighbors, and convinced them that not only were we a different kind of owner, but we would not sell anyone short on a quality product. We love our little dive shop because you don’t need fancy decor to make a good pizza. We would rather invest in quality ingredients and excellent employees than a catchy lobby that people spend two minutes in when they pick up their pizzas.
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.
I am one of those kinds of nerds that loves art, history, and architecture. Houston is home to some AMAZING museums, we have probably the most underrated opera in the country, and we have so many fascinating buildings with spectacular history. The East end of town, as well as the Heights, have grown into food meccas for the Houston Area. My friend Jordan Economy is the Culinary Director of Dak and Bop in the heights–It’s a great Korean-inspired restaurant, and Jordan brings his flair for all things delicious into every dish on and off the menu (watch their Facebook–he creates some amazing pop-up dishes). If you are looking for a Cheers-meets-PunkRock vibe, we would go to The Farm Drinkery on Champion Forest and Louetta in Spring. It is the best little dive bar where everyone will know your name, and you will hear the best music around while sitting with the most diverse group of people imaginable–and the kicker–they all get along! Inclusivity at its best! Finally, after taking in the arts, and binge eating, we would go on a ghost tour of Old Town Spring. If you haven’t done one of these yet, you really need to. They are fun, funny, exciting, and really really cool!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The people of Houston, and Spring Texas are the real MVPs in the Jackpot game. They have supported us, guided us into being somewhat of a household name in our area, and are our biggest cheerleaders. We started a feed it forward initiative in which people could donate to cover the cost of others’ food, no questions asked, because everyone deserves a hot meal. The people in our area took the concept and ran with it. We have folks using feed it forward one week, and then paying for someone else’s meal the next. We have also started sponsoring (through the help of the community) things like college tuition, rent, emergency supplies, clothing, school supplies, medical supplies, and all sorts of other needs through our feed it forward program, and we plan to expand on it in a big way in 2022!