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Back on Broadway, they're serving up hot chicken and smiles!

Posted at 8:08 AM, Feb 22, 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — For this month's Music City Hitmakers, we're back on Broadway! It seems like Assembly Food Hall is doing it right, right now. Their General Manager, Brett Shane, was a winner several weeks ago and now it's one of his hires who's being awarded.

Meet a young man who is making impressions to just about everyone, especially to a Nashville native who took a friend for some hot chicken only to walk away with a new perspective and a new pal.

Prince’s Hot Chicken is perhaps the most popular spot in all of Assembly Food Hall. It's Shellena Burton’s favorite for sure. She even brought an old friend from Kentucky. But, she was about to make a new friend, a support staff busser named Juan Duran.

“We were sitting here, having a meal, just conversing, and the next thing I know Juan comes and he has this big smile on his face and the first thing he says is…‘hey ladies!’”

Burton says it was a breath of fresh air to be greeted with such joy and humility.

“[Duran] definitely showed that this is something he takes great pride in."

Duran stopped by three times to make sure they were OK.

“He taught me that even though when he said ‘hello’...I noticed there was just a little bit something different about him," Burton said. Duran has a disability, but doesn’t let it deter him. "No matter what adversities that you may face in this world...no matter how people treat you...Juan still shows up with a smile on his face that brightens up the day."

"I want to show to everybody…you see somebody help you, you need to help too," Duran insists. Duran has been an employee about eight months, but for months prior, he would wander the halls as a consumer, with that contagious smile.

"He would come and he would say hello to all the vendors and he would say hello to all the guests and managers got to know him by name,” said General Manager Brett Shane. So, it was suggested to Shane to make Duran an employee, and both were on board.

“[I] hired Juan, and it was probably one of the best hires we’ve ever had.”

Shane says Duran embodies all the hospitality he wants his employees to have.

"It’s people like [Duran] that get you to get up every day and do what you do," he added.

It’s a motivating factor for Shane’s other Assembly Food Hall employees, "he doesn’t allow anything to get in his way, he doesn’t allow people to talk about whether he can or can’t do something...he just comes in every day and just gets it done."

"It was one of the most beautiful experiences that I can take with me,” said Burton. She’ll remember Duran for the rest of her days. "We came in here just for some chicken...we left here with a heart full of joy."

If you’d like to nominate a Nashville hospitality employee for a Hitmakers award, click here.