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Mama Dip Measures Ingredients and Job Applicants By Instinct

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CHAPEL HILL — With low unemployment rates, many business owners say it is tough to find workers. But a Chapel Hill restaurant owner has a recipe for success. Mildred Council -- aka "Mama Dip" -- hires employees many other businesses turn away.

Cooking country style comes naturally to Council, but writing a book with her recipes did not.

"I didn't know anything much about measurements until I took on the cookbook," she says.

Council measures job applicants the same way she measures ingredients -- by instinct.

Council's new, larger Rosemary Street location does more than accommodate customers with disabilities -- it employs them.

"She's a very good employer. She took me in when nobody else would," says Joanna Graves.

Graves is paralyzed on her left side as the result of a stroke.

"I have applied for several jobs and they see me coming with a cane and they just turn me away before I can get to the door," Graves says. "They just wouldn't give me a chance."

But Council did. Most of her 34 employees are able-bodied, but a few tasks are set aside for special education students or workers like Graves, who comes in early to compensate for doing some tasks slowly.

Mildred Council was recently given the Employer of the Year Award for businesses with less than 50 workers by the North Carolina Employment Network of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.