Meet Heather Clarke
A Be A Better Human Story
With a heart for giving back to her restaurant family and community, Heather – a devoted mother, PTA volunteer and server at First Watch – is passionate about finding the little things that add up to make a big difference. For nearly seven years, Heather has delighted customers at our Banyan location in Naples, Florida, and, especially in the wake of Hurricane Ian, has given them a welcoming place to come together around the table.
How did you join the First Watch team?
I’m originally from Philadelphia but moved to Naples about 10 years ago, so I’ve been to our Banyan restaurant before and honestly liked it the best. In 2016, I had a four-month-old baby so I was looking for a job where I could be there for her. Not too long after that, I started as a server in January of 2016. Now, my daughter is seven years old and I’m glad I could be there for many of her earliest memories while still working at a job I love. I’m a people person – I like interacting with others – so it’s perfect.
What are you most proud of – at First Watch or in life?
In this type of profession, the moments I’m most proud of are not so life altering – it’s much more of the everyday that we get to watch and experience. We have regulars that tell us that they’ve been regulars for more than 20 years. With some of them, I’ve seen weddings and babies, kids who have come in with their parents who have now graduated from college. Our regulars love having staff that they know. It gives our restaurant a family atmosphere that I haven’t seen elsewhere.
So you’ve served at First Watch for nearly 7 years…what’s been your favorite memory while working at the restaurant?
A lot of the little things. Probably one of my favorite memories is when a family from the U.K. came back into the restaurant after being in lockdown for two and a half years during the pandemic. They remembered me after all that time and were so happy to see me. They actually had just flown in the day before and they couldn’t wait to visit, so they came right the next morning.
What can you say about your team?
I think that we all work so well together – it’s like being a family. Everyone knows everyone, everyone knows each other’s family. In all the places I’ve been, I have to say our support staff is a big part of our family, too. I love our kitchen staff, and our busser is fantastic. It’s been great to have this strong comradery and feel supported.
How do you spend your free time after work?
I do a lot of volunteering at my little girl’s elementary school. I enjoy being a part of what she is into and being part of the community. Right now, I’m involved in her school’s PTA and in the middle of organizing our annual Breakfast with Santa. I also give back through the League of Catholic Women. Right around the holiday season, we collected food and other goods for 30 families to have a full Thanksgiving dinner.
What does your daughter mean to you?
With my daughter at the age she’s at, my focus is on her. She’s into sports – specifically soccer and Irish dancing – and music, really all kinds but right now she’s listening to the Rolling Stones, the Beatles and Kiss. We’re working on setting her up with an instrument, and I’m trying to encourage her to try the piano, but she’s leaning towards guitar. And yes, we do go to First Watch together sometimes. Her favorite dish is the chocolate chip pancakes, but bacon is important to her too.
We have regulars that tell us that they’ve been regulars for more than 20 years. With some of them, I’ve seen weddings and babies, kids who have come in with their parents who have now graduated from college. Our regulars love having staff that they know. It gives our restaurant a family atmosphere that I haven’t seen elsewhere.– Heather Clarke
What piece of advice has stuck with you over the years?
You want to treat people how you want to be treated. You never know what someone else is going through in their life, so you just have to smile and remember how to spread kindness.
What’s a place that is meaningful to you and why?
We live nearby an area called Cambier Park that has a nice big playground and a street lined with shops and restaurants. The area has a lively feeling too it, and I take my daughter there a lot of time. I’ve grown to enjoy it, too – especially the movie nights!
What’s a dream you hope to achieve?
My dream is to retire happily and travel a little bit more. The first place I’d go back to is Scotland – I want to take the little one over there. The Highlands are really nice and full of neat culture and old-fashioned areas.
Three words that describe me are…
Friendly. Funny. Kind
Want to join Heather in making days brighter?