Aly beamed about the beautiful day as we grabbed a table at Red Cup; the amazing colors in the trees, the crisp Oklahoma air reminding us that we are deep into autumn. Aly Branstetter is co-owner of Hillbilly’s in Automobile Alley, S&B’s Burger Joint on May, and the southern-style breakfast spot, Sunnyside Diner in Midtown, opening in 2016.
Through a smile that changed all of the lines in her face, we talked about Oklahoma City, how she got here, and what it means to be here now. Adopted from a Korean orphanage, Aly grew up with a deep awareness of how different her life could have been in Korea and how accepted she felt in her life in Oklahoma. Her culture, her language, and her gender would have affected her differently if not for a loving family from Enid. It's with that awareness, mixed with her own innate drive and commitment, that she forges her path. Aly has curated an incredible appreciation for people; she loves to laugh and loves to love, and she loves to do those things with the people she cares for.
Aly takes time out of every day to visit and “love on” her teams at her restaurants. Every employee matters to Aly; each month every member of the team from the chefs to the servers takes home what would be the management bonus. She wants her team to want to be there and to participate wholly. “You are part of the big picture,” she says when talking about why this is important. “Good lives in people,” Aly tells me, “It really comes out when you put people together.” Aly is passionate about making sure her teams feel that community: “The point of community is to give back.”
Aly is easily one of the most community-minded persons I’ve ever met, a trait attributed to her mentor and business partner, Shannon Roper. Shannon and Aly give back to the community every week by donating 10 percent of the proceeds of their businesses on Tuesday nights to local organizations. That’s nine restaurants paying it forward to nine separate organizations every week.
Aly Branstetter has one speed and that speed is: kick ass. "If you were a street sweeper," she says, “why just sweep half the street?”