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‘Sleepless Nights … Missed Birthdays Are Part of the Process’: Detroit Black Woman Goes from Waitress to Owner of Outback Steakhouse

Gretta Jackson, 45, of Detroit, Michigan, has made history as reportedly the first black woman in Detroit to own an Outback Steakhouse. The new owner of the restaurant in the Detroit suburb of Roseville has spent roughly 20 years working her way to the top.

“It makes everything that I’ve gone through, every setback every person who told me I couldn’t. Every obstacle that got in my way. Every time I wanted to quit, all of those things, it makes it so worth it,” Jackson said. 

She says she started working at an Outback restaurant part time at 22 years old to help make ends meet as a young mother. But she said it wasn’t until she went full time a year later that her career took off.

“Literally I’ve held every position in the building, from the front door to the back door I’ve done it all. I went from server, to bartender, to a line cook, to an assistant manager, to manager, to a senior manager,” added Jackson.

And Jackson said it was those humble beginnings and support from other staff members that helped inspire her on her journey. She said although owning her own store is a significant milestone in her life and professional career it wasn’t always easy along the journey.

“That preparation comes with all of the small lessons the grinding and the hard work and the sleepless nights and the overtime and the missed birthdays and the missed events like all of that is a part of the process,” Jackson said.

Jackson said the love and support from her team members and the community since she was announced as owner last October has been unmatched and keeps her grounded daily.

“The love is so real. For the first few weeks I probably cried once a day, every day, because it was people sending me flowers, sending gifts, saying congratulations, coming in just wanting to take a picture,” Jackson said.

Now the wife, mother and grandmother wants to let her story be an inspiration for anyone with big dreams and goals.

“You need to surround yourself with people who have positive energy who want to see you do good.[People] who celebrate your smallest accomplishments and your small successes. Don’t get so caught up in what people tell you ‘you can’t do’ because of your situation and focus on what you’re going to do, in spite of your situation,” Jackson said.

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