As I embarked on a lifestyle change in 2017, one of my many challenges was sourcing nutrient dense food. That was until I discovered Jackson’s. Having been presented with the opportunity to chat to Gary, I have to admit that it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down as I so desperately wanted to know more about the brains behind one of my fav hangouts. Prior to this meeting we had a brief encounter where Gary mentioned his weight loss story and his lifestyle change. Gary’s passion for #JustRealFood is undoubtably contagious and a conversation with him is both effortless and informative. Probably why we chatted for almost 2 hours without even realising the time had passed.
During our chat he light-heartedly referred to Jackson’s as a groceraunt. The concept of blending a restaurant experience with a grocery experience. Jackson’s Real Food Eatery is however a lot more than just that. It is a one stop shop to a healthier you and is most probably the reason I am a regular customer at Jackson’s. I am able to do my shopping there and Saturday mornings see me take some me-time as I work on my mental strength with some rooftop yoga. In addition to this, we dine rather regularly at the restaurant, believe it or not even my kids love eating at Jacksons. Healthy food that tastes uber delish.
As Gary shared his journey with me, I was transported back to the first 5 years of his life where he grew up in Tokyo due to his dad taking a job there. The lifestyle in Tokyo ensured that he was a super healthy baby. In the early 1970’s Gary’s family relocated to Cape Town. The South African way of life, which was vastly different to the lifestyle he had become accustomed to in Asia, saw him develop several health conditions from eczema to hay-fever which earned him the nickname “wet hanky”. Doctors claimed that these health issues were allergy related and he was treated accordingly.
After completing high school Gary went on to varsity where he studied Industrial Psychology and Business. He later joined the army where he earned the title of lieutenant. Military discipline and training in addition to having grown up with a mom who was into yoga and a dad who owned his own health studios’, meant a healthy lifestyle wasn’t something new to Gary.
Gary repeatedly applied to an International Fast Food company, and after numerous letters of rejection they finally contacted him to say that they were interested in coming to South Africa. He was presented with the opportunity to run a store abroad to prove himself, so off he went to London where he learnt the ins-and-outs of the Fast Food industry. They were so impressed with him that before he knew it Gary was running 4 branches at a time back in South Africa. He spent the majority of his time ensuring that the fast food outlets were a success, but this inadvertently meant that he lived off fast food and as his weight climbed, his health plummeted. He had to deal with high cholesterol, brain fog, depression and even kidney stones. Gary remembers witnessing his clients succumb to similar health issues.
At this time Gary started dating a gorgeous Greek girl, who wasn’t happy about his health issues. She asked him for just 3 months … 3 months to try her approach to diet and lifestyle. Obviously besotted by the gorgeous girl, Gary agreed and started eating a Mediterranean diet. His existing health issues started to vanish one by one, making him realise the importance of eating a healthy nutrient rich diet. He then eased into an exercise routine and without even realising it, a lifestyle change had begun. Towards the end of our chat, I asked Gary what had happened to the Greek girl. He lit up like a Christmas tree as he said “I married her, how could I not? She was just amazing.” So it was a win win situation as Gary got his health back on track and he got the girl.
After his lifestyle shift, Gary left the fast food behind and took up employment with an upmarket food chain where he learnt everything there was to learn about the organic industry. After 6 successful years of employment with this mega chain, Gary’s awareness and self-discovery edged him to bite the bullet and he opened Jackson’s Real Food Market in Bryanston. The once humble 4 table groceraunt has since grown from strength to strength, resulting in Gary opening a second branch at Kyalami corner, 5 months ago.
Having earned a Degree in Hamburgerology, Gary prides himself on ensuring that Jackson’s dish up the yummiest hamburgers along with many other amazingly delicious and oh so healthy meals. His vision for the brand is to make healthy food accessible to everyone so that people can be healed and so that they can achieve vitality and wellness in their lives.
DISCLAIMER : This is not a sponsored post, merely me sharing my opinion on my favourite hang outs.
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