RED RIVER PARISH, La. (KSLA) — With her father, J.T., on the grill and a host of other family members helping inside The Burger Shack, owner Beth Hinds Foster says business has been hopping in the six months since they first opened.
“There is no restaurant from Campti to Coushatta,” she begins, explaining that for miles in either direction on U.S. Highway 71 just north of Fairview Alpha, her new burger joint is one of very few food choices.
"I knew we had the prime location," smiles J.T., Beth's father.
J.T. says it is an idea the family had kicked around for the past few years.
But he felt the time had come to make it happen.
“Mechanic, to laborer, to cooking, to sales, back to cooking,” lists Beth, citing all the different kinds of jobs she has held over the past few years.
All jobs that didn’t work out for one reason or another.
“I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anybody to have a job,” explains Beth, admitting it had become a real emotional struggle.
A struggle that had really begun at birth, 23 years ago.
For the first two years of her life, the nerve endings in both ears were quickly dying.
And by age 3, a cochlear was implanted.
"To see her expression, for the first time," an emotional J.T. recalls, pausing to fight back the tears.
“When they turned it on, it was like a light switch. She smiled and her mouth came open.”
But that only solved part of the problem.
Acceptance was the next hurdle Beth faced, she says, dealing with years and years of bullying at school, namely because of her implant and her noticeable difficulties with her speech.
"There was one time that someone said I should kill myself," Beth says with her head lowered.
Even after graduating from high school and finishing college, her struggles continued in the employment world.
“Right now, when you’re talking, I’m reading your lips,” she explains to KSLA News 12′s Doug Warner.
It’s an ongoing difficulty that seemed to follow her from job to job.
“When your kids hurt, you hurt,” explains J.T., leading to his decision to help his daughter open her own business, The Burger Shack, at the corner of U.S. Highway 71 and Louisiana Highway 507.
He says helping her get this business off the ground isn’t a handout.
It’s just a way for Beth to show everyone within driving distance that she is a hard worker and, more importantly, that she deserves to be respected and treated just like everyone else.
"Since I started this business, a lot of people came up here and told me how good the food is," smiles Beth.
"It makes me happy."