Store owner Kristal Beaver (right), Kitchen Manager Maricella Casique, and Bettina. The Hardest Jobs Columnist got a live-action look at life at Bojangles.
By Bettina Huseby, Progress Columnist
“There’s a special place in heaven for women who’ve labored in the kitchen during their lifetimes.” The late great American, Lewis Grizzard Jr., said that. He had a Mama who cooked for him every morning of his young life. She even went so far as to hand-squeeze his orange juice.
As far as places in heaven go, Jasper Bojangles employee Maricella (pronounced Mar-sel-lah) Casique will surely be “up there”. She’s never missed a day of work in five years. And odds are in your favor that the fluffy, buttery, delicious biscuit you last enjoyed was made by Maricella.
For two hours on September 14th, I worked as a “biscuit apprentice.” Store owner Kristal Beaver gave me a t-shirt, a visor, and a personalized nametag. The place was jumping. Cars were in a solid ring around the building the whole time. Having me in the way wasn’t very efficient, but how else was I to learn the biscuit baking biz?
Everybody was working hard and fast, but Kristal said the two hardest jobs are biscuit baking, and biscuit wrapping. Next to the wall of ovens, there’s a chart listing all the specs of a perfect biscuit: height, width, color, shape, and an “actual size” photo for comparisons.
Maricella pops the trays in the ovens. Ten minutes go by, and she brings them back out. Then she brushes them with melted butter. Wrapping involves putting the yummy fillings inside and sealing them up. Kristal swears Maricella has three ears. One is for the drive-through, another is for the front line, and an amazing “third ear” monitors the headset. She keeps up with orders flawlessly.
Twenty minutes is the shelf life of a Bojangles biscuit, but they don’t stay on the shelf that long! As fast as they are baked, they are sold. On a busy Saturday morning, Maricella will bake around 2,500 biscuits.
The store’s weekly average is 12,000 – and that’s a lot of biscuits.
Because breakfast is the best meal of the day, they serve it all day long. And everything comes with a biscuit, but the sandwiches. If famed columnist Grizzard were here today, he’d ask for a sandwich and a biscuit, with a pack of honey. That’s dessert.
Maricella let me make biscuits. I added real Mayfield Buttermilk to the dry mixture. “Use your hands like paddles,” she said. “Mix it lightly so it looks like cottage cheese.” Hers looked like cottage cheese. Mine looked like cellulite.
Then we folded and rolled the dough. “Soft, soft,” she said. I was pushing down too much on the roller. She was infinitely patient with me. Motherhood brings patience, and Maricella has been a mother five whole times. In fact, two of her children work at Bojangles.
There’s a science to cutting them out so they rise evenly. And yes, each biscuit is hand-cut. Maricella was careful not to press down on their tops. She only handled them from underneath. Into the baking trays they went, 15 at a time.
Later I was in the dining room eating one of my own biscuits. My clothes were covered in flour. Talking with Kristal, I was completely unaware that a quivering blob of biscuit dough clung to my right elbow.
She told me Jasper is her home town. She loves it, and her customers. They looked very much at home, lingering over their food and coffee. I felt like I was home, too.
Located one block West of Hwy. 515, next to Trout’s
1811 Hwy. 53 West Jasper, Georgia 30143
Owner: Kristal Beaver
General Manager: Derek Key
Kitchen Manager: Maricella Casique