It's Dramos. You may know me from the recap on LATV. Now I've got my own podcast, Life as a Gringo, coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday. We'll be talking real and unapologetic about all things life, Latin culture and everything in between from someone who's never quite fit in.
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Learn more about their clean standards and shop clean at Sephora Beauty at Sephora.com. And we continue with our American stories. And now we have one of the co-owners of Diablo Southwest Grill here to share his story.
Diablos was started by Carl Wallace and brothers Brandon and Brad Wall in Augusta, Georgia. Here he is sharing his story of how this business got started and how they operate. Luckily for me, you know, through life, all of my success has come from challenges and what seems sometimes like really bad days actually set us up for the best days. My wife had lost her job with Verizon when they had bought out another company and, and I had never cooked a day in my life. So when she went back to work, instead of working business hours, she started working retail hours. And then that led me to having a cook for myself because she wouldn't get home to nine or 10 o'clock at night. And then I realized I had a passion for cooking. And so actually Diablos was, was born out of loss of a job for her. And then I wanted to create a chain, not just do someone else's dreams.
I wanted to create my own dream. So we created Diablos and grew from one store in Augusta to, we're fixing to open up our 15th store in about two months. So the day before Easter Sunday, 3.30, 4 o'clock in the morning, we had a break in. The individual smashed our front glass, gained entry into the restaurant and then went to the register, immediately grabbed the register, shook it around, snatched all the cords and wires. It made an absolute mess of all the register and, and the change door, shook it around, realized there was no money in there, threw it to the ground, looked around the restaurant for about 10 more seconds, realized there was no safe. The safe was hidden and actually ran right back out of the restaurant as fast as he could get out.
And the whole process was less than one minute. We were awakened by the security company calling us and letting us know. And so we'd get to the restaurant. My business partner, Brandon, got there first, you know, so then he let me know as a social media guy for Diablos, you know, I had to come up with a post because my initial reaction was like, man, we're going to have to put up a piece of plywood over this, this broken door just to get the restaurant open and operating. And it was also a challenge to get open by 11 o'clock with getting the register reset back up and replaced. You know, it was a, just a big frustration. And then again, it was, how do I let the customers know that, you know, if their first visit to Diablos and they've got a plywood door, I mean, this looks really bad for a business.
I came up with a kind of a thing of, if you see our, on Facebook, if you see our door looking hurricane fabulous, this is why. And for some reason, just because of the Easter weekend and just really thinking about the robber and like in that moment and what had happened to, in his life, that he literally broke in at three 30 in the morning into a restaurant. I'm not a morning person.
I don't want to be anywhere at three 30 in the morning. Here he is three 30 in the morning, breaking into restaurants, risking his life. If the restaurant owner had been there, if the police would have showed up and it would have gone bad in the altercation, so many things. And the guy didn't make one penny as I'm typing the Facebook message, you know, to let people know, I just kind of shifted and was like, you know what, what would Jesus do in this moment?
What would, what would be his response to, to how this went down? As I kept writing and typing it up, the Facebook post, my heart just was the guide. And I decided that, you know, look, maybe we can be a mentor for this guy. I know it's a radical thought. I know it's a radical change. And then kind of realized too, wow, this is crazy that trying to be a little bit more helpful for somebody that's doing wrong in life is a radical change in direction. I had no clue that it was going to go viral.
I was not trying to go viral with it. A lot of people online thought it was a trap and there was a company that did this as a trap, but my heart was in the right place. And if this guy was trying to put food on the, on the table and he can't find a job for whatever reason, I wanted to be there for that guy. I wanted to be the change in his life. And again, maybe a little bit from, from the past of my life where, you know, some of my best days came out of my worst days.
If this was the reason that the guy had a different career path and we could mentor him, I wanted to be there for that person. The post ended up going viral pretty quickly on a local level. And then the two local stations reached out and did news stories that Saturday. And both reporters said, this is going to go really, really viral.
And I laughed and didn't think so. And then the next morning, Easter Sunday, I got a phone call from the UK national news and someone had made a meme on Reddit. The meme had got upvoted on Reddit and then picked up by the news station. And that was a national wire for the UK. And then by the afternoon, CNN had called the today show had called and we just were fielding phone calls from all over the world, Australia, and even was picked up on the Saudi Arabian news.
Unfortunately, the story doesn't have a happy ending. We were tipped off to who the individual was from a friend of that individual who saw it on the national news knew that this Scott, this was his deal. He's been doing this for a long time in life. And we believe that he was picked up in South Georgia for the same crimes about a month ago.
We don't know that for certain, but all the parameters fit. He was, this individual was in Augusta that weekend that it happened, but it looks like he will be serving time in South Georgia for the same offense because he was caught. But there was so much attention brought to the story on a national level. And we had so many people reach out. My cell number is in the Facebook post.
It's very, very simple to reach me. So I had people reach out from all over the place and just stories of, you know, letting us know how we inspired them to do better in their own life. And I guess at the end of the day, if it made a change in someone's life, then everything was worth it. Three or four days after the incident, I had a phone call around five o'clock and, and luckily my family was actually around with me, got a phone call and the individual was in tears, lives in Millersville, Georgia, and said that he had spent a lot of his life in jail incarcerated for crimes. And then, and he was really broken up in speech as he was trying to talk. And he said, I just want to let you know that if the guy that I robbed would have had your response, I would have spent the last 15 years free versus the last 15 years incarcerated. And he said, by the time I woke up in life and realized that I was being a bad human, I had a lot of dues left to pay to society.
He said, you know, nobody does what you're doing. It really touched me. That was, that was probably one of my most touching phone calls from everybody that had reached out. He said, every time that they would throw me in the jail, I'd come back out with more anger to do more wrong. And he said, if somebody would have showed me some compassion, it would have stopped.
It could have stopped my cycle of what I've done in life. You know, he said, if you're ever in Millersville, Georgia, here's where I work, come by and see me. I want to hug you and shake your hand and tell you what a great person you are. That, that meant, that meant everything to me. You know, you're, you're really making a difference and making a change in someone's life.
And I've always tried to live a life of respect and understanding. One of the things that I tell my employees, we never know what's going on in someone's life. We don't know if they're just having their worst day. Our job is as a restaurant owner is to serve you and to be there and be a small part of your day. But what we don't know is what's going on in someone else's life across that line. You know, you could have gotten fired from your job and you walked out, grabbed your stuff and walked out of your job and it was the best job you ever had.
And three minutes later, you're inside my restaurant, you know, and the best thing we can do is be there with a smile and, and just try to make your experience great. But on the other side, that person just had his bad, his worst day ever. He's going to be a little upset.
He's going to be edgy. And sometimes they project that against us. And what I tell my staff is they're not projecting it to you about you. It's what's going on in their life to put them in that situation at that moment. We've had some cases, customer complaint resolution found out that the woman was visiting a hospital, which is across the street from one of my stores, was visiting the hospital and her mother was passing away. And she was literally spending the last moments of her life with her mother. And of course, she's going to be edgy with the staff. And so her situation and what happened had nothing to do with my staff.
It had more to do with where her mind was. And in my own personal life, I, I try to be mindful of what everybody's going through in life and not everybody's having a great day. And you've been listening to Carl Wallace tell one heck of a story about how kindness and mercy, they work in ways you don't even know.
And in ways that are indirect and mysterious and beautiful. When we come back, more of Carl Wallace, who run Diablo Southwest Grill, a chain of restaurants, a part of his American dream here on Our American Stories. Transcribed by https://otter.ai 21 and over in most eligible states, but age varies by jurisdiction. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com slash sports book for details and state specific responsible gambling resources. Gambling problem call 1 800 Gambler in New York. Call 8778. Hope in wired text. Hope in Y four six seven three six nine void in Ohio and Ontario. Bonus issued as free bets.
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Once again, that's 855-933-5252. And we continue with our American stories. We've been listening to the co-owner of Diablo Southwest Grill in Georgia share the story of when a man broke into their store to steal money. Instead of wanting to find the perpetrator to press charges against them, owner Carl Wallace decided to take a different approach. He made a post on Facebook, offering the man a resume and a conversation. To Carl's great surprise, the post went viral.
Let's go back to Carl. And again, I just kept coming back to, I can't believe that this is viral, that a strange approach to someone who's done you wrong is garnering so much attention across America and really across the world. It was a simple act. And I guess anybody that gets robbed is gonna have the initial reaction of anger, frustration, or if I caught you in the act, I would have killed you. They didn't harm my family. I wasn't threatened. None of my employees were at risk. Nobody was at risk and they didn't steal any money. I think I'd have been a little more frustrated if some money was taken, but it wasn't.
I mean, absolutely. Other than a couple hundred dollars for a broken glass door that was completely replaced. The crazy flip side of it is, is the outpouring of support from the community. Our sales have been up probably 10% in our local market since that happened.
We gained so many new customers that it's been unbelievable that how many people came in the first couple of days. I was doing an interview and a local radio personality, Cher Best, came by and she just came by to pay it forward and she walked up to the register and paid for a person's meal just because. She's like, I wanna pay it forward. And she walked in and just paid for a family's meal that she didn't even know. She's like, you inspired me to pay it forward. And she came by the restaurant to bless somebody else. Just little incidences like that, that happened so many times over the next couple of days that was just absolutely unbelievable that how the community reached out and supported us back.
And we've been paid for that door a hundred times over. You just don't think that a small act of kindness is gonna reach that much attention. Some of the comments online were, had one lady say, I wish I could marry Carl and I thought it was hilarious. My wife didn't find it quite as funny, but she said, well, you come with more problems than you come with. She needs to, she gets the problems and the good as well. None of us are perfect people.
I was more amused than my wife was amused about it. But yeah, it's like that one little instance of kindness and this person thinks that, everybody thinks that you're a perfect person and nobody's a perfect person. You just, you try to live life the best you can and do the best for people. And so many text messages from people all over the world. Again, my cell number was on the Facebook post that went viral all over the world. So it didn't take but half a second to type my number in and shoot a text over and just tell me what your thoughts were on what I did. And of course I got a few that said I was crazy, but that's okay, I'm fine with that. That's my decision to do what I want. And we're all have the right to lead our life the way we think is right. We're all gonna be judged, but if you're gonna judge me bad for doing right, then that's a problem for you, not a problem for me. I got a few texts of, you're what's wrong in this country.
People should be locked up and people should pay for their crimes. And then I was always happy to respond back and say, well, if we don't break that cycle for somebody and we keep doing this, who have we fixed? Who have we helped in life?
I don't know how we've changed into a society that decides to judge others for what they feel is correct. I went viral for my kids at Kicker 14. I made a field goal and we've got a lot of land. And so I put it in the front yard, made a TikTok about it and said, the best thing you can do as a parent is support your child, even if it means putting a field goal in the front yard. And that went kind of viral on TikTok, which then ESPN picked it up. And so then ESPN posted it to their Instagram and it says, you know, father builds field goal for his kid, blah, blah, blah. And so he had 525,000 likes, but in 5,000 something comments.
And the crazy thing is 4,000 of the comments were negative. You know, that's an unfair advantage. You know, why would somebody do that? Why would some, you know, like my kid doesn't have that opportunity.
And then, you know, some were, you know, a little tongue in cheek. Imagine having a field goal and a dad, you know, kind of thing. Yeah, and so, you know, I was right on top of it when it landed on ESPN's Instagram and I'm reading the first 30 comments and I'm just floored that I'm getting negative. You know, like, watch what happens. He's gonna, you know, dad spent all that money and the kid's gonna quit. And I'm like, my kid's been playing sports since four years old. Like, that's all my kid cares about.
That's my kid's passion. He's not gonna quit. They're like, all this money and he's not gonna go anywhere.
I'm like, well, he's currently the fifth ranked kicker in the country right now. So like, I don't, you know, I don't understand the hate. But the sad part of it was, is that that's where we're at in society, that you try to do something great for your child and give him and help him chase his dreams. And that little bit of money that I spent to put a field goal up has really helped his success. But I never realized that that would contribute to hate because you're trying to just do what's right for your child and support your child.
And we're now at a part of society that is looked down upon, you know, because somebody else doesn't have the opportunity that it's not right for you to have that opportunity. One of my favorite things as an employer is to be able to mentor some of my employees when they ask for help and ask for business advice. And I enjoy being there for them. That's one of my, I love my paycheck, but I love being able to help employees on whatever their career path may be in life and whatever advice that I'm able to help them with. And I've been very successful in life and I've been very fortunate.
I've worked very hard for it on two other companies along with Diablos. And one of the things I instill in my own kid who's 14 is that you don't have to be the smartest kid, but if you're the hardest working kid, you'll probably survive in life. You'll probably do very, very well. I've had over the years, some teachers, you know, want me to come back and do mentoring in class and, you know, give my testimony, so to speak, to the kids. And I'm like, my testimony's not that great. It's, I didn't do well in school.
I was 051 remedial, just about everything, but I applied myself in life and I worked hard and always had a vision and a dream. And if you have a vision and a dream and you're working towards those visions and dreams, you're generally gonna make it. And a lot of kids sometimes just don't have a dream. You know, they just, they're going through life. I was fortunate to always have a dream of what I wanted to achieve.
And same thing with Diablos. I wanted to create a regional chain of restaurants and, you know, be anywhere from, you know, 50 stores to 100 stores. And my banker sat and looked at me and he said, that's just about an unachievable task out of Augusta, Georgia. And we did it. And we started franchising and we've been very blessed.
But nobody supports us like our local community does. And so we're happy to give back. And during the COVID, we ended up feeding some homeless people and just doing what we could in the community.
We fed some kids that were no longer getting school meals. And so we did what we could to support our community back. And a special thanks to a few members of our team, Madison, Robbie, and Faith for the great work on that story.
And how often do you hear stories about businessmen in the movies, in the mainstream media that sound like that? The good guys, a real good guy. And we love bringing you stories and voices like this from all over the country. You've been listening to Carl Wallace. I love what he said when he said some of my best days came from my worst days.
Indeed, that's how the cooking started. And then having that vision. I love that he confessed that he wasn't a very good student.
Who cares? So many kids struggle through high school, college, but they have passions and talents. They go beyond. We love telling these stories. We love getting these stories from you. Send them to OurAmericanStories.com. They're some of our favorites, these stories. If you have a story in your town, an entrepreneur who's done something like this, or a random act of kindness, which is all he did. It was a random act of kindness. And look at the response.
The story of Carl Wallace here on Our American Story. A major regret could soon hit millions of Americans. It could hit without warning. It could devastate your net worth. It could wipe away years of hard work and savings in the blink of an eye.
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Terms and conditions apply. See Lulu's.com for details. With ever-longer ingredient lists on beauty products, it's hard to tell what you're really buying. That's why Sephora is committed to cutting through the clutter and confusion, helping to push the industry forward. By showing what's really in their products. At Sephora, their clean standards mean products formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, mineral oils, and more. So when you see the Clean at Sephora seal, you know you're getting a clean you can count on. Learn more about their clean standards and shop clean at Sephora Beauty at Sephora.com.
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