Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wright's Gourmet House employee finds success despite disability

Latoya Bristor stands behind a stainless-steel counter carefully completing her daily tasks.

The 29-year-old has been working at Wright's Gourmet House in Tampa for nearly two years but has the spark of a new hire.

"She's always had this sunny personality," said her boss, Jeff Mount, the third-generation owner of one of Tampa's most popular establishments.

Dressed smartly in her uniform of a white chef's coat embroidered with her name, black pants and baseball cap, Bristor goes about her duties of seasoning meat, preparing salad dressings and prepping other food in the Wright's kitchen.

Bristor has been a part of the state's Vocational Rehabilitation program since 2006. The program helps people with physical or intellectual disabilities learn job skills so that they can find long-term employment and live as independently as possible.

With October serving as Disability Employment Awareness Month, Bristor's success is worth noting.

After graduating from high school, Bristor worked at a local hospital, where she had duties in the kitchen and mailroom and also delivered linens. But it wasn't until she completed a culinary training program and internship at Brewster Technical Institute that she really found her niche.

In order to earn her job at Wright's, Bristor worked on interview skills with her Vocational Rehabilitation employment coach, and also brushed up on the store's history, since every employee is expected to be able to answer questions about the family-owned business. Bristor also had to show that she was physically able to move bags of flour or sugar and complete other tasks safely.

Although Bristor is the first employee Wright's has hired from the vocational rehabilitation program, the gourmet deli has worked with other organizations that assist people with disabilities. Giving people a hand up is simply part of the Wright's culture, instilled by Mount's grandmother, Marjorie, who opened the gourmet shop in 1963.

"It's what we've always done," Mount said. "If someone comes along and we can help them, and they can help us, we try to make that happen."

"It gives them skills that translate from the classroom," added Megan Deveau, Wright's human resources generalist.

For employers, the vocational rehabilitation program provides trainable workers who tend to be extremely loyal and stay on the job longer.

One aspect of Bristor's duties includes helping to train new workers, an aspect of the job that she relishes.

"It makes me feel better," she said during a break from her work. "I love to help people."

Since joining as a part-time cook's assistance at Wright's, Bristor's job duties have increased, and new roles may be explored, such as working in the dining room, where Bristor's positive attitude is sure to be an asset.

Working at Wright's has certainly provided Bristor a sense of accomplishment and independence. She takes a bus to work three days a week and is always early to arrive. The income that she earns helps to provide for her 2-year-old daughter.

"Working here gives you strength and motivation," she said, adding that interacting with customers and her co-workers is one of her favorite parts of the job. "They're nice and friendly."

At her age, Bristor has many more years in the workplace. But she says she's happy right where she is, and if she gets her way, she'll keep working at Wright's until she's "old and gray."

"This is the best place to work."

Contact Candace Rotolo at

Wright's Gourmet House employee finds success despite disability 10/22/15 [Last modified: Thursday, October 22, 2015 7:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Steven Souza's two passions collide in charity fantasy football event

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Steven Souza knows a thing or two about football.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston gets a hug from right fielder Steven Souza Jr. (20) after throwing the ceremonial first pitch of the game between the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 23, 2017.
  2. Housing starts fall in July

    Real Estate

    WASHINGTON — The Commerce Department said Wednesday that housing starts fell 4.8 percent in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.16 million. Groundbreakings for multi-family buildings such as apartments slumped 17.1 percent, while single-family house construction slipped 0.5 percent.

    On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported on U.S. home construction in July. 
[AP file photo]
  3. Florida man has some of Princess Di's wedding cake, plus 13,000 other royal items (w/photos)

    Human Interest

    John Hoatson recalls the day it all began with perfect clarity.

    John Hoatson poses with a photo taken in 2006 when he met Sarah "Fergie"; Ferguson, the Duchess of York, for tea at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in California.
  4. Pasco doubles tourist tax to finance sports complex


    DADE CITY — Pasco County is doubling its tourist tax to 4 percent to build an indoor sports complex in Wesley Chapel and improve its outdoor boat ramps in west Pasco.

    Pasco County's plan to double its tourist tax on overnight accommodations to 4 percent is intended to help finance a $25 million sports complex in the Wiregrass Ranch area of Wesley Chapel. It  would include a 98,000-quare-foot multipurpose gymnaisium of eight basketball courts and dedicated space for gymnastics, cheerleading and a fitness center. Shown here is the four-court fieldhouse with 50,000-square-feet of space for competitions at  Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.  Times photo by James Borchuck (2007)
  5. 5 things to do under $5: Where to see solar eclipse, Bucs training camp


    1 Solar eclipse: Turn around, bright eyes. Monday brings a total eclipse of the sun, and you'll need protective eyewear to see it. The bay area won't be plunged into darkness for a few minutes like the middle of the country, but with solar lenses you can see this rare event. The Museum of Science and Industry, …

    This photo shows a “diamond ring” shape during the 2016 total solar eclipse in Indonesia. For the 2017 eclipse over the United States, the National Science Foundation-funded movie project nicknamed Citizen CATE will have more than 200 volunteers trained and given special small telescopes and tripods to observe the sun at 68 locations in the exact same way.