, 38, earns about $68,000 a year as the special events coordinator at Second Empire
, a fine-dining restaurant in downtown Raleigh.Payne began working as a waiter in Nag's Head during summer breaks from N.C. State University, where he eventually earned a bachelor's degree in business.He joined Second Empire seven years ago and worked his way up from a waiter's assistant.
"I think I'll do this for my entire life," said Payne
, who just bought a three-bedroom house near Raleigh's prestigious Five Points neighborhood.
made less than $10 an hour working alongside high school students when he
started at Moe's just five months ago.He
quickly impressed his
boss, but he
was worn out from working two jobs.
From 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, he'd dish up meals to toddlers and preschoolers at Method Child Development Center
in Raleigh -- a labor of love.He'd then rush to Moe's and serve families in Cary for six more hours.
promotion to assistant manager, he
can now afford to work a regular 40-hour week.But perhaps the sweetest part for Bennett
is the feeling that he's
now closer to making The Paradise Inn a reality.
"It's not going to be fancy," Bennett
said of The Paradise Inn.