Atlanta's Mary Mac's beloved 'Ms. Jo' retiring after 25 years

- The Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta is losing one of its beloved employees. Ms. Jo Carter, the restaurant’s Goodwill Ambassador, is retiring after nearly 25 years with the company.

Known for her engaging smile, quick wit and "world-famous" back rubs,"Ms. Jo" started as a server at the dining room. The West Virginia native quickly became one of the most requested team members by her loyal following of customers.

In a statement released Saturday, the company said, “The calendar has turned another year and recent health concerns have created the need for Jo to contemplate retirement. We are indeed saddened to see her go. Being an original is hard to come by in these day and times, but that is exactly how we will remember her. Original! Honest to goodness down home southern woman filled with love and laughter! She will be missed but certainly not forgotten! You must know that not only will her guests miss Jo, but the entire Mary Macs family! She has made a positive impact on so many people and we know that everyone will send her their best in retirement!”

Read the full statement below: 

It’s hard to think of Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Atlanta’s Dining Room without Ms. Jo Carter personally welcoming you with her engaging smile, warm hospitality, quick wit and of course her world famous back rubs!

Ms. Jo, a native of West Virginia, has been walking the halls of Mary Mac’s for almost 25 years and is readily recognized by many of our patrons for her unique and heartwarming hospitality! Jo started at Mary Mac’s as a server and quickly became one of the all-time most requested team members by her loyal following of customers.

Jo was born in Mud Fork, WV, one of six children and moved to Atlanta in 1962, where she has worked in the restaurant business ever since! The Owner of Mr. B’s, where Jo once worked, once nicknamed her the Mud Fork Flash due to how quickly she handled her responsibilities.

It wasn’t until Jo started at Mary Macs that she felt most at home. The customer base at Mary Mac’s was one of the main reasons, “Mary Macs is so well known as a place to get a great southern meal and always with a side of southern hospitality” says Ms. Jo, “and so many of our guests are just like family, you just never know when somebody special is going to walk through the door, so I just decided to treat everyone as family and roll out the red carpet for everybody.”

Jo’s attention to detail and outstanding customer service soon offered her an opportunity as a floor manager, however her heart was always with serving her guests, so John Ferrell, the Owner of Mary Mac’s created a new positon just for her in 2006, Jo became our first official Goodwill Ambassador. This positon was created after Jo retired in 2005 and she moved home to West Virginia but back at Mary Macs, she was missed, in fact so many customers asked about her, that our Owner, John Ferrell drove to West Virginia and asked Jo to come back to Atlanta and if she would, he had an idea for her that he felt she would enjoy. Jo agreed and the new Official Goodwill Ambassador was soon back taking care of not only her longtime customers, but everyone that walked through our doors.

The entire team at Mary Macs can easily locate Jo as she rotates between the 6 main dining rooms welcoming guests with a warm smile, hello and offering her famous backrubs! It’s easy, says Mary Mac’s Director of Operations, Matt Thompson, you listen for a roar of laughter and that is where she is!

There is hardly a day that goes by that we do not receive a written compliment about Jo. The handwritten notes and emails arrive from around the world after a guest has met her. Often, a picture from the guest will be included with a personal note about how much their visit and time spent with Jo meant to them.

You see, Jo believes that if you take the time to listen and hear someone, you will be able to help them, it’s the attention to detail, noticing if a guest is visiting without their spouse or friend and taking the time to find out where they may be….it’s a step back in time, like many of us that grew up in a time where families gathered around the dinner table and utilized that time to learn and hear about your day, there was no internet, no cell phone and even many had no TV. A family meal was cherished by all and was also informative, as you often learned about family matters, neighbors and loved ones during this time.

Jo Carter is known for making everyone feel welcome, she checked on your meal to make sure everything was good and most importantly to share the Mary Mac’s love. You see she loves all people from all backgrounds and demographics, well she may love West Virginians the most, but we promised not to tell as long as she didn’t show favoritism.

It is not uncommon for many of our corporate clients to call in advance of a visit to get Jo prepared to personally welcome a colleague that may be visiting Atlanta for the first time from up North and to see what a southern woman can do to break down a Yankee!! Let’s just say, Ms. Jo excels at welcoming Northerners to Mary Macs and she admits, I love Yankees too!

The calendar has turned another year and recent health concerns have created the need for Jo to contemplate retirement. We are indeed saddened to see her go. Being an original is hard to come by in these day and times, but that is exactly how we will remember her. Original! Honest to goodness down home southern woman filled with love and laughter! She will be missed but certainly not forgotten! You must know that not only will her guests miss Jo, but the entire Mary Macs family! She has made a positive impact on so many people and we know that everyone will send her their best in retirement!

The Mary Mac’s family will always remember how many of our guests were touched by her personality, hospitality and love and not to mention those world famous back rubs! Many thanks Ms. Jo, and may God Bless you! A True Goodwill Original that will always be admired, appreciated and remembered.

We will look forward to seeing you whenever the opportunity provides! Come back often and tell us about your life in retirement, where we are sure you will continue to make a positive impact on anyone that you may come in contact in! That’s what Originals DO!

With Love,

The Mary Macs Tea Room Family

SEE ALSO: Single mom pays off her rent for a year, post goes viral

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

More Stories You May Be Interested In - Includes Advertiser Stories