“Business is about more than the bottom line. When you walk into a business you should feel the connection to the community”- Jane Wolfe
Whoever believes that business owners are “only in it for the money” likely haven’t tried to start a business before. Most entrepreneurs are driven by deep passion and a mission not just to sell a product or service but to change the world. To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have that kind of fearless ambition and zealous belief.
Yet, even as their business reached remarkable levels of success, Scott and Jane Wolfe, founders and owners of Melba’s Famous Po-Boys in New Orleans, felt that there was more they could do for their community.
“Business is about more than business,” said Jane. “It’s about lifting up where you stand.” Inspired by Jane’s education at Harvard Divinity School, the Melba’s owners set out to become stewards of their community, determined to support and enrich the people of New Orleans that helped them realize their dreams – and beyond.
Whether it’s a corporate structure that gives employees their fair share of profits and a voice in all major company decisions, or their Lunch & Literacy program that hands out free books to customers, Scott and Jane Wolfe are fully engaged entrepreneurs. Eat and Read at Melba’s has featured countless authors who meet with attending customers and give away free copies of their books. There have been Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning authors who have happily participated, as well as the daughter of a former President of the United States. It’s a tangible and inspiring way to reach people. This has created a lasting impact and legacy within the community. As Jane has said, “Business owners need to ‘see’ how to engage with their staff and community. Melba’s selected literacy. All businesses have a choice to engage. They just need to do it!”
The Wolfes also shine light on their literary enthusiasm with Melba’s Family Read and Play Space. The area was created as a way to help parents while they ran errands. Located in Wash World, the laundromat connected to Melba’s, the dedicated reading space lets families clean clothes and have a great meal while children read and study comfortably in a colorful and vibrant space. The Family Read and Play Space is decorated with comfy child-sized furniture, a large collection of books, art supplies, and toys. The walls are filled with local art that depicts the vibrancy of New Orleans. The goal for Jane and Scott was to create a place where imaginations can run wild and literacy is a priority. Now they want other business owners to be able to easily follow their lead.
See how it’s done: