Jamestown family-owned restaurant helping keep teenagers on the right track: ‘It’s just pushing them forward’

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JAMESTOWN, N.C. — A Jamestown restaurant owner hopes her business will provide more than a paycheck. 

Joann Guest opened the doors to J&J’s Crabspot on West Main Street two months ago, along with her son, daughter and other relatives.

Guest serves seafood platters and smoothies, with her 16-year-old son managing the restaurant.

“I cook, make the crab trays, the fried food, smoothies, I clean and I’m also a manager, so I make sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do,” Sterling Jackson said.

Guest explained that part of her vision for the restaurant was providing a space to keep her family members on track.

“They had problems with the law in the past, I wanted to make sure he gets something positive to do in his life, and that way he’s not just another statistic in the system, in the juvenile justice system,” Guest said.

Jackson said that’s not an option when he’s hard at work.

 “I’m surrounded by family here, so I don’t have the urge to go hang out with anybody else that’s not doing the right thing,” he said.

Guest lost her nephew, Khalil Jones to gun violence in September 2019 in High Point.

“After his death, I very much wanted to make sure that I could help other ones in my family and other children out in the community as well,” she said.

Guest hopes to employ more teenagers as the business continues. She said opening a restaurant amid the COVID-19 pandemic has had its challenges, but she hopes her children will learn important lessons.

“It’s just pushing them forward to move harder, regardless of what’s going on around you, you still can be successful, and you just have to push a little harder,” she said.

“I’m really just looking forward to a better future and being able to expand this business and make it something greater than it is now,” Jackson said.

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