CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A Charlotte man who spent months out of work is now celebrating his success, and he says it would have never happened if he wasn't sent to the unemployment line.
They're rolling in the dough at Charlotte's newest Mellow Mushroom restaurant. But nearly three years ago, the owner of the Charlotte franchise wasn't sure how he was going to keep his family afloat.
“Overnight I didn’t have a job after 17 years. It was completely out of the blue,” said Marc Kieffer.
Then a printer salesman, Kieffer says it was January of 2009 when he was suddenly laid off.
“It was a real shock to the system. You have something to do every day. A whole life you’ve created for yourself and all of a sudden you’re kind of lost and wondering what you’re going to do,” Kieffer said.
Keiffer and his wife, Le Anne, had just adopted their second child and brought her home from Kazakhstan.
After months of fruitless searching, Marc had dinner with some friends who wanted to invest in a Mellow Mushroom franchise but needed someone to run the restaurant.
“When you’re put in a position when you really don’t have a lot to lose, it’s the greatest thing, and now I look back at it and I can’t believe how lucky I am that I’m able to do this,” Kieffer added.
They opened the first location a year ago in the heart of the recession in Myers Park. It’s such a hit that the second one in Ballantyne is set to open next week.
“It’s just amazing to me. Sometimes when I think about how desperate I was feeling two-and-a-half years ago and now I look back and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” Marc said.
The topper is that he's doing something he loves.
“To have a job is wonderful, but to have a job that he loves to go to every day--we can’t ask for more,” Le Anne said.
If all goes as planned, they hope to open two more Mellow Mushroom stores in the Charlotte area in the next few years, and the couple says their kids have already asked to work in the kitchen.