Quietly hustling around in the background at Brew in Jasper, Emily Huddleston busses tables, delivers meals, takes orders and makes multitudes of coffee drinks.
She began working there after graduating from Jasper High School in 2018. For the 4.1 GPA student whose photography earned national recognition from Jostens when she was a junior, going to college to focus on a single course of study didn’t make sense at the time.
“I just didn’t see myself happy going so I stayed,” she explains adding that she also really enjoys being home with her family in Jasper.
After graduating, she stuck around Jasper working on her portrait photography while continuing to hold down a job in the kitchen at Brookside Village. Most of her friends had headed to Ball State for college and her decision to stay in Jasper seemed to box her in as she became overwhelmed with the shift work at Brookside. “I felt stuck because I didn’t go to college,” she explains. “It was my first job and so I didn’t really know what else to do.”
Her dad, Joe Huddleston, and Josh Premuda, who co-owns Brew with Barry Dunlop, are friends and during a serendipitous conversation between the two, Joe hinted that Emily was looking for something new so Josh called her in for an interview and she was hired.
At Brookside, Emily spent time working in the kitchen which kept her out of the public eye. Being hired at Brew put her front and center of a crowd just about every day. It was hard for her.
“I was very awkward and I was very quiet,” Emily explains. “I’m a very shy person and this was my first job out in front of people.”
But she quickly picked up the ins and outs of working at Brew and slowly overcame her awkwardness. Last November, Josh and Barry decided to offer Emily the manager position. She loves her job there and decided to take on the added responsibility. Now the 19-year-old is handling employee scheduling, stocking, manage employees, sit in on new hire interviews. “I make sure nothing gets burned down,” she laughs.
She’s confident because she knows how to do everything in the restaurant. However, her quiet demeanor and young appearance have led to some awkward moments like when a customer asks her why she isn’t in school. Or when a customer was confused when he asked for a manager. “So, I go out there and say ‘you wanted to see the manager?’ and he says ‘yeah’ and is kinda looking around,” she laughs. “I told him ‘um, I’m the manager.'”
For now, she’s completely happy with her life. College is something for another day, if ever. It’s there if she wants to pursue something but it’s not a focus at this point. Her friends are attending Ball State and they seem a bit jealous when they commend her for her job and future she’s building here.
It’s been a good decision so far. “I’ve met some really awesome people and I’ve made some really good friends,” she says. “I just like it here.”
If you stop in at Brew and ask her for a recommendation:
“The patty melt. I love the patty melt.” She’ll also recommend the chicken tenders because she just generally loves chicken tenders. For a while, the hot, sticky sweet — a flatbread with pepperoni, gouda, pepper flakes drizzled with honey — was her favorite but these days, the patty melt tops the list.
Things she loves about Jasper:
Emily loves the Jasper Public Library and can’t wait for the Cultural Center to open. The Parklands is also a favorite place to go.
Emily loves the small-town feeling with the amenities Jasper offers. She loves being able to walk downtown from her parents’ home. “I love being able to walk everywhere,” she says.
Side note: she doesn’t like coffee but she’s working on it.