It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.
-- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist


A lot of high school students probably have a general idea about what they’d like to do after they graduate.

Maiah Johanningmeier (DHS ‘17) knew exactly what she wanted to do – work in a restaurant kitchen.

Her dad, Matt, had purchased a restaurant in Monona, in 2015. She was 15 and a high school sophomore, at the time.

“Working there as a high schooler ultimately helped me make my decision of wanting to be in the restaurant business,” Johanningmeier says. “My first job, however, was at Happy Joes in Decorah. I was 14, and my duties mostly consisted of doing the ice creams, cleaning tables, stocking the buffet table, answering the phone and taking orders and cleaning tables.

The following year, when her dad opened MJ’s Bar & Grill (The M is for Maiah, Matt and Maiah’s brother, Merrick; the J is for Johanningmeier) – “a burger, salad, pizza and panini kinda place” – Johanningmeier found she loved cooking in a fast-paced environment.

“I was very shy and quite reserved throughout high school so waiting tables wasn’t something I was very interested in,” she recalls. “But being in the kitchen keeping my hands busy and working hard was more interesting to me.”

For full story and more photos, see Thursday's Driftless Journal.