The restaurant world has many inspiring stories of immigrants who came to this nation with nothing and through hard work and determination have risen to positions of leadership and ownership. At Garden Fresh we’re proud to have numerous members of our team who are achieving their American dream and wanted to share one of those journeys.
Luis Peacker, a Production Manager at Sweet Tomatoes in Orlando, immigrated to Florida from Peru a little more than a decade ago. With few opportunities in his native country, Luis and his wife moved to central Florida to pursue a better life for their young son. Shortly after arriving in Central Florida, Luis was hired at a Sweet Tomatoes in the heart of the tourist district. The personable cook spent the next two years mastering the skills required to prepare and serve the farm-fresh, made-from-scratch soups, salads and baked goods for which Sweet Tomatoes is best known.
Luis recently reflected on his journey.
“We came here with nothing, but Sweet Tomatoes gave me the opportunity to grow,” said Luis recently at the restaurant, where he now serves as the second highest-ranking manager. “I came here to give my family a better life and push us forward.”
Despite suffering the setback of a detached retina that nearly blinded one eye and forced him out of work along the way, Luis persevered in his job working as a prep cook. He helped open a new Sweet Tomatoes in Lake Buena Vista in 2009 and was promoted to crew leader by 2011, when he transferred to the company’s Kissimmee restaurant. About a year later he was promoted again and returned to the restaurant where he first started on Kirkman Road, this time as Production Manager. Quick with a smile and possessing a heart to serve, Luis has become a guest favorite in his job, ensuring that everything served is fresh, service is always friendly, and that the dining room is spotless every day.
As impressive as Luis’ story is, his son Bryan’s is perhaps even more remarkable. When his family arrived in Orlando, Bryan was 7 years old. He entered public school not knowing a single word of English, yet overcame this challenge to become fluent in the language while rising to become one of his high school’s top scholars.
Luis’ eyes welled up with tears recently when he proudly shared a television video spotlighting his son’s journey. Also an accomplished violinist, Bryan graduated with perfect grades and had his pick of Ivy League colleges before choosing Harvard, where he is now a student on a full academic scholarship.
A high-energy leader, Luis takes nothing for granted as he continues to work hard every day to better himself. Over the past several months he has lost over 50 lbs. by finding a fresh approach to living. On the five days he works he only eats Sweet Tomatoes’ garden fresh salads and fresh-made soups. At home he has learned to eat better and exercise more.
Luis is a testament that the recipe for success continues to be hard work and commitment to learning and getting better every day. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what obstacles you have had to overcome, the American dream is still alive and well.