When Julie Stone graduated from Culver City High School in 1969, she began waitressing at Al's Kitchen on the pier in Santa Monica.
Today, at 35, Stone is a co-owner and manager of 72 Market Street Oyster Bar and Grill, a popular restaurant in Santa Monica. Her partners include actor Dudley Moore and director-producer Tony Bill. And one of the investors in the business is Liza Minelli.
For years, Stone enjoyed being a waitress, with no thought of switching into restaurant management. "I made a good living and I wasn't denied anything," she said.
But all that changed in 1979 while Stone was waitressing at Cafe California. One of her customers was interested in opening a restaurant and market in the Santa Monica area and was looking for a motivated, savvy person to be manager.
When offered the job, Stone accepted. At Charmers Market, Stone got involved in the behind-the-scenes work of opening the business. She participated in the design and construction of the building. She also hired and trained a staff of 100. "Managing came naturally to me," says Stone.
She credits her father with fostering the self-confidence that is so much a part of her success. "He didn't hold on too tight, and he encouraged me to be independent and to know who I am. I grew up with my father and four older brothers so I've always felt comfortable in a man's world."
In 1982, when Stone's longtime friend, producer and director Tony Bill, set out to open 72 Market Street, he asked Stone if she would manage it and become a co-owner. She took the job and is now working with the group of owners to open a restaurant in Beverly Hills called Maple Drive.
The waitress of 20 years ago, once "without a care in the world," now finds herself reviewing the day's business with the comptroller, overseeing 75 workers, monitoring service, handling neighborhood relations, and--most important to her--keeping the patrons happy. "It's a demanding business--you are constantly, constantly giving," she said. "I can really shine it on. I have a wonderful touch with people."