Location: Columbia, Greenville
Bio coming soon...!
Location: Columbia, Greenville
I was born and raised in Columbia, SC where I grew up in the hospitality industry. My parents started Southern Way 40 years ago and I have enjoyed being in the family business full time for about ten years now. I started as event staff when I was a teenager then came on full time in sales. I served as the General Manager for a few years and have now been the Vice President of Operations for 2 years.
I am very passionate about the hospitality industry because I grew up in the business. As a young girl, I would come to the office and help my dad cook whole hogs. We would have to spend the night because the process is intense. It is a memory that always makes me smile. It made me really appreciate my parents’ hard work.
I have a connection to the people and the events. My true passion is what you would call behind the scenes. I love to help create menus and figure out how to make things logistically work for catered events.
There are so many things I love about Southern Way. Every day is different! I love our awesome staff and working with them to make our clients as happy as can be. Being in the position I am, I have learned so many things from this company that have helped me grow as an employer and as a person.
When I am not working, I enjoy vacationing with husband and my two girls, Phe and Olivia to the beach or the mountains! We live in the country with lots of animals, so we love spending time outside and entertaining guests! I also enjoy researching new food trends with my husband, our chef! We love working together so we can continue to modernize our menus at Southern Way Catering.
Location: Columbia, Greenville
I grew up on the coast in Morehead City, NC. Then, went to Highschool in Florence. I moved to Columbia to attend the University of South Carolina and have been here ever since.
I graduated from the Moore School of Business with a double major in real estate, and entrepreneurial management. I minored in HRTM. During my senior year, I had to create a business plan in order to graduate. I started with the Southern Way part time when I was in school, and primarily worked events. After working nearly every position, including cook, carver, passer, busser, and captain, I fell in love with the business.
After starting a few other businesses of my own, I went to Jimmy Stevenson, founder of Southern Way looking for a partner. Instead of pursuing the original concept and starting my own company, I made the decision to join him to help grow Southern Way. What a great decision.
I have been Vice President of Business and Partner of Southern Way since 2013. I love working with the company, because it’s a brand that I can be proud of. If the 40-year reputation doesn’t already speak for itself, just meet anyone in our organization. We are a team of hardworking, dedicated, people of character who are passionate about what we do, and genuinely care for the clients we serve. I am passionate about the people. Both our clients and employees. The best part of my job is connectivity. It is incredibly rewarding to be able to find growth opportunities for our company, find great people to help us achieve our goals, and serve incredible clients during the most important occasions of their lifetime. At the end of the process, we’ve made new friends, and everlasting memories.
The bigger the event, the better! Of course, small intimate wine dinners are fun too…. But I’m an adrenaline junky, and our team is very good at executing large scale events. We make the seemingly impossible look easy, and nothing in the world makes me happier. My favorite, best, and worst memory at Southern Way was catering the Democratic National Convention. It wasn’t my favorite because we were able to serve a President, celebrities, or people of influence, and it certainly wasn’t the politics. It was my favorite because we worked 20-hour days, for 5 days straight. We found success in the most challenging conditions imaginable. I even slept on a cardboard box one night, making me forever appreciate my bed and a soft pillow.
I love spending time with my wife and two kids, fishing, hunting, woodworking, golf, or pretty much anything outdoors. Unfortunately, I don’t do near as much of any of those things as I’d like, because what I enjoy more than anything (except for family of course) is my work!
I enjoy being on the move. In my role, I often find myself on the road between meetings, venue visits, or our office in Greenville. Every day is different, and every day presents new challenges. I try to stay active and find joy in giving back to a community that has given so much to me. Service above self will always be a priority. Some of these include: Member at Union United Methodist Church; Board Member, Friends of Epworth Children’s Home; Member, Columbia Rotary Club; President, Columbia Bridal Associates; Board Member, Leadership Columbia; Board Member, American Heart Association; Past Member, City of Columbia Hospitality Tax Commission; Member, Executives Association of Greater Columbia.
I have been Chef de Cuisine for 4 years here at Southern Way Catering. Southern Way feels like home because I graduated from the University of South Carolina.
I absolutely love to cook; cooking is my passion. I appreciate having a hand in exceeding every client’s expectations, especially during seat and serve events!
HR and Staffing Manager
Before starting at Southern Way Catering Full-Time, I taught a combination of Kindergarten and First grade. I started out part time with Southern Way in August of 2013 as Event Floor Staff as a second source of income in addition to my full-time teaching job. In May of 2015 I started full time at Southern Way as the Load List Coordinator in the Logistics Department. In February of 2016 I transitioned into Staffing and hiring all of our part time team members. In August of 2016 I took on a much larger position within the company as the HR Manager in addition to the staffing position.
I have a unique perspective into the business due to the nature of my job. Not only do I have a strong understanding of the organization’s priorities and challenges, but I also have the ability to influence the future of the company based on the employment decisions we make. I have to continuously stay on my toes.
I love the variety and the challenge that staffing and HR has had been able to provide. One day I may be helping an employee navigate changes to their health insurance while the next day I could be dealing with the effects of new laws or regulations.
SWC has taught me that hard work pays off and to always look on the bright side. Are there going to be days you make mistakes? Yes. Are you going to have bad days? Sure, you are. Are there going to be days you have to make hard decisions? Absolutely. Every day isn’t going to be the best day and some days can be downright challenging. But if you’re not willing to work hard and you’re not willing to learn new things, you are going to continue to be stagnate.
If you believe variety is the spice of life, you’ll love the fact that working in hospitality is never boring and always keeps you on your toes. Whether it’s a new challenge or the opportunity to travel to new and exciting places, this type of change makes it very easy to wake up in the morning and feel motivated about heading to work for the day.
I love that I have a great degree of autonomy and flexibility within my job, and because I have that level of trust with my boss, she expects me to produce high-quality work and results. I work full-time, both in and out-of-office as I am also a mom. I am never made to feel as if my work should supersede my duties at home and for that, I am grateful.
When I am not working, I enjoy being with my friends and family. Whether we are cooking out, swimming at the pool or watching one of the kids at a gymnastics meet or a baseball game; I value the time we have together and the memories we are able to make!
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”
- Mother Teresa
I fell in love with the service industry rather early in my life. I graduated from the University of Mississippi (Hotty Toddy), in 2013 with a Hospitality Management degree and a minor in English. After Graduation I moved back home to Atlanta, Georgia. I found myself starting in catering and event sales at a boutique catering company. After 5 years of learning the ins and outs of social, corporate and off premise catering as well as growing our sales team I decided to try my hand at venue management. I became the Director of Private Events for a non-profit organization close to home in Atlanta and quickly found out that a typical 9-5 job was not a good fit for me. About 7 months in, my husband came to me and asked how I felt about picking up and moving to South Carolina (which had always been my second home) to pursue his career growth and we haven’t looked back.
I started with Southern Way Catering in October 2019 as the Athletics Sales Manager. I am now in General Sales and oversee venue sales of Wavering Place. I love that Southern Way prides itself in providing great food, incredible service and creative displays and design all within catering. This company seemed like a place I could grow to call home when looking for something new in a new city.
Southern Way has taught me that being a part of a team that cares as much about their employees as they do their clients is somewhere that I want to be. I am passionate about delicious food that and exceptional customer service which Southern Way takes great pride in!
I really love events that ask for an extra attention to detail or request a specific menu preference that’s close to that client’s heart and special to them. Creating that special experience and exceeding a client’s expectations is a feeling that I love. I really enjoy taking the pressure off of clients when planning an event. Giving them the peace of mind that all aspects of their event will run smoothly, whether it be a small intimate dinner or a football game for thousands, is extremely gratifying to me!
My favorite memory at Southern Way is probably the Miranda Lambert Concert at Colonial Life Arena. This was my first event with the company so, seeing all the pieces of suite service come together on such a busy night was a lot of fun and something that I will never forget!
When I am not working, you will find me exploring something new in Columbia or escaping to Pawleys Island with my husband, our daughter Addison, and our dog River. We do not typically go anywhere without him! If I have the time (which is rare) you may find me jumping on the back of a horse for fun!
Desmond Gray Jones
Desmond Gray Jones
Downtown Sales Coordinator
I was born in Long Beach, CA but was raised in Charlotte, NC, El Segundo, CA, and Denver, CO. I moved to Columbia, SC to attend the University of South Carolina and studied Hospitality Management. After graduating, I worked in the Rooms Division at resorts in Charleston, SC and Stowe, VT. I relocated back to Columbia during quarantine to be close to my parents, my sister, my niece and my nephew!
I love working at Southern Way because of the people. Everyone comes from a different background and still work so well together. It’s fascinating seeing everyone’s points of view when planning an event. We’re constantly bouncing ideas off each other which helps us continue to learn in the industry. My favorite memory so far was working the Garnet Society at the Cockaboose Club the night before out home opener. As a U of SC Alumni, it’s so exciting seeing the positive changes around and within the stadium! It’s also nice being around other people that share the same love for the University!
Southern Way has taught me that no two people think alike. Everyone will always have their own opinion, their own vision, and their own idea about how an event should look and function. It reminds me to always stay true to myself and appreciate the uniqueness of each event we host!
When I’m not working, I really love to read and watch horror movies. I love doing anything outdoors, whether it be at the beach, in the mountains, or just grilling out in a backyard. I spend a lot of time with friends and family around town and we usually gather at a local brewery. I enjoy doing studio style work outs like Pure Barre and Basecamp. I love running but have to avoid it most of the year here due to the heat!
Pastides Alumni Center, Director of Hospitality
I have always loved working in hospitality. Just knowing my presence has made Someone’s day a little brighter means the world to me.
I grew up in Winnsboro SC. I moved to Columbia with my fiancé Kris in 2003. I became a mom in 2004 with the birth of our son Kristopher. Our family grew one more time in 2005 with the birth of our daughter Karissa. Being a mom was and still is the most important role I have ever played in my life. I was a stay-at-home mom for over ten years. During which time I was very active in the PTO and with the Hospitality Team at the school my kids attended. I was also very involved with Trenholm Little League where I took on many volunteer positions such as Softball Coach, Registration Officer, Canteen Coordinator, Vice President and an active Board Member for over 5 years. All of these volunteer opportunities help me become the person I am today. After many years of devoting my entire self to the needs of my family and other I decided to do something for myself and take on a part time job. This part time job very quickly became a full-time career that I am thankful every day to have.
I have been with Southern Way since December 2016. In those few short years I have worked my way from Event Staff to Event Manager, Administrative Assistant to Event and Venue Coordinator. I am now the Pastides Alumni Center Sales Manager and I am eager to see where this role takes me! From the very first day I realized the work SW does is truly something special. It’s not just about making food it’s about making memories. It’s about making the most stressful day a bride faces one of the most wonderful days of their lives. It’s about going all over the state in the middle of the night to take care of first responders during disaster relief. It’s about putting together wonderful menus for galas that raise money to save and rebuild lives. It’s also about just simply showing some southern hospitality to companies hosting meetings. The services we offer can reach so many lives.
I truly enjoy everything about what I do and the wonderful, supportive team that stands beside me! I have to say my favorite memory with Southern Way Catering is my first wedding as a sales representative. Taking on something so special to this family as a fairly new sales rep was truly nerve racking. The feeling of absolute pride in myself I felt hearing that bride say “today was the most wonderful day of my life, you did it” was one of the best feelings in the world!
When I’m not working, I truly enjoying just spending time with my family or sneaking off to “just us” lunches with my mom!