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inspirational story

First Black Woman to Own an Outback Steakhouse in Detroit

We are ending Women’s History Month strong with the final feature of our Beauties in Detroit Making History series! If you’ve been following along you know that we have been celebrating this month by shining a spotlight on the women in Detroit who are major leaders making waves!

We are so excited to close our series with the phenomenal Gretta Eddington-Jackson! Her news of becoming the first black female Managing Partner for Outback Steakhouse went viral on her 19th anniversary with the company and just in time for Black History Month. Gretta is driven by her family and her faith. Read on to get to know the woman behind the role as she shares how she overcame challenges, advice to her younger self and more.

Tell us about yourself and what kept you motivated.

Well I’m married to the wonderful Antwane Jackson and we’re the parents to  Ashley (27) and Ashton (12 ) grandparents to Aiden (7) and Baby Ace (2 months). I work at the restaurant approximately 55 to 60 hours per week trying to balance home life/work life is a job in itself, however I can honestly say I’m motivated by my family and my team… realizing that I do this for them more so than myself. When they see me work hard, achieve success and make history… I’m proof for them that it can be done.

At what point did you realize or know that you could take on the role of owner?

I was never 100% sure I would ever be an actual owner until the opportunity presented itself and I actually found myself in a position to go for it. I ultimately took on the role because I had worked side by side with my team for years and went through the trials and tribulations with them and knew first hand that they had lost faith in Outback, themselves and the restaurant…so I wanted to come in and try to restore that faith and hope and make them remember why they choose to show up everyday even knowing they were the underdogs. 

What is or was your greatest challenge and biggest accomplishment or strength?

My biggest challenge earlier on in my career was being a Woman in what was then considered to be an industry ran by men….more specifically white men. Also having to realize that some of them didn’t want to see me succeed and was adamant about the fact they were not going to help me grow or teach me or help me in any way simply based on my gender and race.

My greatest accomplishment would have to be never quitting or giving up and after 19 years of blood, sweat and tears…becoming the First Black Woman Managing Partner in the Detroit Market.

Based on what you’ve learned along the way, what would you tell your 18 year old self?

I would tell 18 year old Gretta that it’s ok to make mistakes but learn from them, don’t make the same mistakes over and over… keep God first, never lose your faith, trust the process and know that everything you go through good or bad is helping to prepare you to be great some day. Pray often and always live in the moment, live for today because tomorrow is not promised…and always, always be UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU!

Why do you feel representation is vital for the success of future generations of women?

Representation is vital simply because  when you’re growing up thinking you can be this or you can do that it’s at that point just a dream, a hope…maybe a possibility…but once you see or meet or speak with someone like myself who actually looks like you, comes from where you come from,  struggled the way you may have struggled it now becomes more than a dream it become a reality…proof…possible…goals.. IT BECOMES I DID IT SO CAN YOU or SHE DID IT SO CAN I.

What is the beauty of Detroit to you?

What can I say about DETROIT…THE “D,” well it’s my city, home, I was born and bred here…I love everything about IT and no matter where I travel in the world I always want to come back home. IT’S EVERYTHING FOR ME…THE PEOPLE, THE LOVE, THE ENERGY…I DONT KNOW I Guess I’m just a “D GIRL” AT HEART.

What do you do to decompress and any advice on ways women can learn to better care for themselves?

Well…I absolutely love to travel…near and far…so that’s not always possible especially nowadays. I would say my second favorite thing is Ladies day! Grab your bestie and sisters and fav, hit the nail shop or spa to have some good food and laugh, cry and relax at least once if not twice a month. My circle is small but tight…when I call they come and sometimes just being in their presence calms and relaxes me.

Be it that we are celebrating Women’s History Month, think of a woman that inspires you. What would you like to share with her about the impact she has had on your life?

So I suppose this would be considered a tribute…ESSIE EDDINGTON  “QUEEN B,” my heart and soul….my Granny. My Love received her wings on June 3, 2020, but she always has and always will be hands down My MOST PRIZED POSSESSION… MY FAVORITE person in the world and now in Heaven. She was the First person to PRAY FOR ME, TO BELIEVE IN ME, TO TEACH ME TO LOVE ME UNCONDITIONALLY. She raised me from birth to adulthood becoming my Mommy and me her Tootie. Everything I am or will ever become is because of her LOVE AND SACRIFICES and just as I did while she was here I spend my life showing her that her Prayers and Sacrifices for me were not in vain and I won’t Give Up until I have accomplished every dream I’ve had and every promise I made her .

I PROMISED MOMMY on her death bed that I wouldn’t stop until I owned my own Outback… not even knowing if would ever be able to keep that promise…BUT GOD!!! 4 MONTHS LATER I WOULD BE ABLE TO LOOK UP TO THE HEAVENS AND SCREAM! LOOK MOMMY PROMISE KEPT!

Doesn’t Gretta’s story just inspire you to be your best self: unapologetically you and trust the process, stay the course and never give up?! We are forever grateful for you sharing your incredible testimony! The outpouring of love Gretta has received is a testament to her phenomenal spirit and work ethic! Because she did, so can we…what a great way to close out Women’s History Month! Continue to be a beautiful role model and empower women.

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By Tayler Jones

As a 26 year old artist and Detroit native I seek to focus on sharing stories of the innovative and resilient people in our city and not its negative criticism. Therefore, to over accentuate the good and support local businesses, our gift boxes are a gateway to the artisans, craft makers and doers in the city. This blog is in honor of them and the great things happening in our community!

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