In a restaurant full of unique stories and people, there’s not a name more unique than God’schild Callabrass. There’s no special meaning behind it, just a brief legend of how it came to be.
“My dad turned in the birth certificate and didn’t tell my mom he’d changed the name. It was a surprise to everyone.”
People often ask him it’s a real name, and he assures them that it is. The Team at Fulton Street may refer to him as God’schild, GC, or even Cal, and some form of his name is always being spoken as he transitions through many roles in the restaurant: from first-rate stocker to catering lead, from front counter hospitality to lemon squeezer in the cellar.
His childhood was marked by transitions as well. His father passed away from a heart attack when GC was only two, so he spent time with both parents’ families, moving back and forth between the Bronx and Queens, switching schools every year. In that transient lifestyle, he rarely felt that he belonged, for he knew that every situation was temporary. But he did learn to observe people and how they interacted.
He remembers distinctly at the age of eight riding in a car with his cousin and realizing for the first time what power and influence really meant. Watching the cousin give orders to others, including instructions to commit violence, created a desire in GC to hold power and sway over other people.
“I wanted to be like him, that power he had. He would steal, so I would steal, or he would be selling drugs, and I couldn’t sell drugs, but I would sell toys or pencils on the street.”
Inspired by his grandmother who was a principal of an elementary school, GC wanted to be a teacher, but his relationship with the school system turned into one of conflict rather than development. As a young teen, he retaliated against a bully at school, and fought the security guard intervening to stop him. He was expelled by the NYC Board of Education as a “troubled teenager” and sent to an alternative school to be reacclimatized. His first week there, at the age of thirteen, he lost $800 playing dice with the older students.
Soon after that he argued passionately with a stranger in the lunch line, the confrontation escalating until threats were made. The person turned out to be a young principal in the school, and GC once again was expelled.
He shares the stories of his struggles as an adolescent with a sense of confession, knowing his current personality doesn’t resemble the belligerence of his youth.
“I’m not that person anymore…I still want power, but I want to use that power to help find solutions for people, to be someone that others ask questions to, to use influence to shape things for the better.”
GC pursues that goal by reading books and watching videos to learn how to speak better, and constantly asking his leaders questions about their own development and what motivates them.
“Hearing other people’s stories inspires me, especially reading Truett Cathy’s story and hearing about his perseverance and perspective. My culture is often ‘this is what it is’ but I want people to see success in others and think ‘I can do that, too.’”
“My heart is for young people. What breaks my heart the most is the lack of exposure so many young people have to what they could be or what opportunities exist for them. And my greatest joy is seeing young people realize what they could be, when they come alive with possibilities.”
It’s one of the reasons he loves working for Chick-fil-A. “They teach you how to uniquely build up your dreams and grow beyond the culture or stereotype you’ve been stuck in.”
Besides wanting to own and operate his own Chick-fil-A, GC is working hard on multiple dreams. He’s building his own high-end fashion brand as well as developing a motivational ministry that helps people overcome their inner skeptics. But his biggest drive right now, the one consuming his mind and influencing his decisions, is one that’s as unique as his name.
He wants to be reunited with his wife.
He met Veronica in seminary. Originally from Russia, she’d spent five years in the states and married God’schild in June of 2017. She recently went home to visit family but because of a clerical mistake concerning stamps in passports, and changes in embassies and immigration laws, she was informed she’d have to remain there for ten years. The separation is wearing on him, but the worst part is Veronica is eight months pregnant and he’s going to miss the birth of his first child.
He’s working with a lawyer to reduce the ban down to three years, while also fighting his own battle with bureaucracy. His passport was recently denied due to his identity being stolen years ago.
“The whole situation is stimulating me to work hard, be creative, and network.”
He feels a deep sense of pride in getting to work at 144 Fulton Street and declares there are only two options for him in his career, working for himself or Chick-fil-A.
“The standards are amazing, you get the opportunity to sell great products, and learn incredible skills and strategies to welcome and serve guests. Chick-fil-A isn’t a job, it’s a career choice. Jobs can be just temporary or just for a paycheck. That’s not the way Chick-fil-A does it. I love being the biggest restaurant but caring for the littlest thing.”
As God’schild embraces the possibilities of his own potential, pursuing the power that influences people for good, his gratitude is evident, and he glows with hope even though his situation could cause him to despair.
“I’m really thankful for this place, giving me more hours to help save money to get my wife back. And on a deeper level, it’s always moving in the direction of what I’ve been working on: becoming better versions of ourselves.”