Behind the curtains at Folk’s Folly


Hannia Antunez

Matthew Kim (12) intricately sets up a table before diners arrive. Kim, like many other White Station students, works as a server assistant at fine dining steakhouse Folk’s Folly.

As guests dine at Folk’s Folly, rather young-looking employees seat them, bus their tables and continuously refill their waters with cold, crisp water, maximizing their experience at the fine dining restaurant. Upon closer inspection, guests will realize most of the staff consists of students, specifically White Station students.

“When they come in here every day, they have that great, … positive attitude and the positive difference that they can bring to us,” Corinne Dennis, a server at Folk’s Folly, said. “You know, they make you happy, it’s like they are a member of us. They are patient, they have common sense, … and they have a sense of humor.”

Presently, more than half of Folk’s Folly’s employees consist of current White Station students and White Station Alumni. Dennis, who has worked there since 1998, personally observed the gradual trickle of student employees.

“If I remember right, one got a job … and then he got a friend [to also work there], who then had two friends who [became employees, and they] then went to school and said, ‘Wow, this is a great place [to work at],” Dennis said.

These student employees work as either server assistants or hostesses because of age requirements. However, these positions still prove to be laborious, as their roles require them to constantly tend to both customers and their server’s requests.

“I do pretty much everything a server would do except serve food and alcohol,” Gary Kellett (11) said. “Because in order to serve alcohol, you have to be 18, and I’m 17. My job consists of like, you know, giving them more water or refilling their drink that is non-alcoholic, or you know, taking plates away and making sure everybody is good … even bussing the tables after they’ve left.”

Consequently, their efforts are recognized by the other staff members at Folk’s Folly, opening up opportunities to other students looking for jobs.

“I welcome more of those kids from [White Station because] of their tolerance, their flexibility, their patience, their personal skills, their relationships with the range of people that we have there and really their integrity,” Dennis said. “You can really trust them, and that’s a big thing there is to be able to trust people.”

Many students are reluctant to work while attending school because of the grueling demands their schoolwork might entail. However, student employees at Folk’s Folly have adapted and developed the skills to handle all of their duties.

“It really just comes down to scheduling in order to maintain that balance,” Kellett said. “I’ve pretty much found my balance. I work maybe two or three days a week, and that gives me enough time to, you know, get some schoolwork done during the week and be social during the weekends and have some free time.”

While striving to maintain the restaurant’s high standards and procedures, Folk’s Folly makes sure to accommodate students’ needs. As a result, the establishment has changed students’ perspectives of jobs in the restaurant industry for the better. 

“I [used to work] in the restaurant business, but I was scared to get back into it because like how bad the restaurant [I used to work in] was,” Samantha Canale (11) said. “I [decided to work at Folk’s Folly], and … I like the way it runs. It’s like very different from other businesses and other restaurants.”

By not setting a specific closing time, Folk’s Folly takes the worry off guests to finish a late meal by a certain time. This can result in its employees working until late hours during the school week.

“Some people take advantage of it, so sometimes we’ll get out of work very late,” Kellett said. “Like this past Tuesday, I didn’t leave Folk’s Folly until 11:30 [p.m. on a school night]. But, I’ve been there as late as one in the morning.”

Many of the students working at this restaurant belong to the same friend groups. While most people would assume this would cause complications in the restaurant, these students have learned where to draw a line.

“It’s a weird balance,” Kellett said. “I mean, obviously, like we do talk and joke with each other, but we do realize that there is a time and place for that. But, before the shift and towards the end of the shift, you know, we talk to each other and joke around a little bit, but as soon as it gets busy, we all have this understanding that you know don’t mess with each other, and if you can, try to help someone out.”

Working together has caused these students to form even closer relationships due to all the tasks they tackle together, the long hours spent together and the sharing of work experiences.

“It’s like working with your family,” Canale said. “My manager is like my second dad. I now have like brothers that work … we just have like a closer relationship in school and in work.”