A Central Florida Rave – McKnight’s Restaurant
By Vikki Hankins|
McKnight’s Soul Food Restaurant is the dining rave for those with an appetite for soul food in Central Florida. Located only a stone’s throw away from the technologically-advanced Amway Center, the restaurant offers an array of options like: Curry Shrimp Tacos, McKnight Medley Pasta, House Specialties like Southern Pork Chops, to name a few.
Restaurant Owner, William McKnight did not begin his career in the hospitality industry but instead started out in the medical field. His grandmother, of whom he truly respects and admired, instilled in him everything he needed to know in order to become the successful businessman that he is today.
“I’m the youngest of 6 children; I am my mother’s youngest child…my mother had a drug addiction and as things got worse, I was able to move in with my grandmother – she took custody of me, which is how I came to be with my grandmother.”
Prior the forced move of leaving his mom, William took notice of his mom’s skills as a cook, only to have the skill enhanced by living with his grandmother.
“My mother was one of those real quick cookers, by the time you blink your eyes, she was done, but my grandmother had a passion for what she did (cooking). A lot of times I would say to my grandmother, ‘You’re in there talking to yourself’ and she would say, ‘I’m working things out in my mind as I cook; by the time I finish with this meal whatever it is that I am (thinking) about will be worked out’. I realize now that this is a therapeutic measure for some people,” shares William.
William’s grandmother made sure his surroundings or where he lived did not dictate who he would become. Oftentimes, children look around their neighborhood and tend to pattern themselves after what they ‘see’, his parent (grandmother) would not allow this to happen to him.
“I grew up on the South Street in West Mooreland; it’s the hood, but even with that my grandmother wanted me to do better and be a better person than my immediate surroundings.”
Celebrating his 30th birthday (July 2013), William is not only a successful entrepreneur but he has also made the way for others to take care for their families.
“In a sense it’s overwhelming at times; in some people’s eyes I’m still a baby. But I count it as a blessing to God because I’m an employer. I’m giving people jobs in the community; that in itself is a blessing. It’s a genuine good feeling to hear someone say, ‘Thank God for this job, I’m able to pay my rent. To hear someone say they are going to live in a hotel or on the street or say, I’m a felon, I can’t get a job, can you hire me;’ when someone comes to me in that stance, that means nothing to me (ex-felon) because I have my own background. My job is to ‘go as YOU move me forward,’” shares William.
“It (being an employer) changes my outlook because when this lady said what she said about not having a job, it reminded me of when my mother was on drugs and I didn’t know where our next meal was coming from.”
Not only is William passionate about cooking, he offers sound advice to those seeking to start their own business or looking to partner with other companies.
“Whatever you’re do you have to have a passion for it. The Bible says, ‘Too much is given, much is required.’ If you’re not willing to make a lot of sacrifices don’t step out there in that water. You have to be willing to sacrifice. Don’t depend on those around you. I’ve learned now that you can’t depend on anyone but God, because there are going to be a lot of let downs when you solely depend on other people.”
Because of his faith in God, William has had many community officials and community leaders to help him along the way.
It’s been said that McKnight’s macaroni and cheese, turkey wings and chicken salad are to die for; so is their banana pudding! And for those looking to watch their calorie intake there are meals with lower calorie count waiting for you!
Regarding pursuing your passion, William says:
“Once you’re passionate about something pursue that passion. No matter what obstacles come; no matter what door closes – just because one door closes another one can be opened – pursue your passion with greatness,” shares William.
This is coming from a successful entrepreneur, who began his business while in his 20’s (years of age). Success before 30! Cheers to William McKnight – his strong belief in God; the lessons he lives by from his grandmother and the sincerity of believing in his community!
To learn more about McKnight’s visit: www.soulfoodatitsbest.com