Jessica and Rob Ayala

Shining a Light on Jessica Ayala

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Graphic: Shine a Light on Strong Women

Her Traditions strives to be a resource for women’s financial health and to celebrate and support women as we make our dreams a reality. As we focus on the vital role strong women play in our community, we encourage you to nominate women who inspire you.

Whether she is crushing it as a business owner, lifting others as a community builder, or inspiring women through leadership — we want to hear about it! Help us shine a light on strong women by sharing their stories.

Please email stories and nominations to Nicole Shaffer, Director of Her Traditions.


Jessica Ayala: Moving from Challenge to Revival

Jessica Ayala and her husband, Rob, have spent their entire lives working in the restaurant industry. Another restaurant owner first planted the seeds of opening her own restaurant. Jess had doubts. “I was worried about how much time it would take to build and run a restaurant,” she shared, “especially with having young kids.” But as she watched the energy in the downtown York community grow, she knew they needed to be part of York’s revival.

Jess reflected on her passion for creativity and wanting to design her own place, “I wanted to give birth to it. To create every aspect of the dining experience from our perspective of what people would enjoy.”

And thus, Revival Social Club was born.

Revival Social Club signFrom 2017 through today, Jess and Rob balanced running a restaurant in York and one in Harrisburg, with Jess taking on the operational responsibilities for Revival Social Club. “It’s important to be onsite for the day-to-day activities in order to grow your vision in the way you see it unfolding,” Jess notes. Revival focused on building a creative menu and distinctive cocktails as well as a strong team. Things were going well when COVID hit the restaurant industry hard.

While they needed to lay off staff during the shutdown, Jess focused on supporting her close-knit team. She single-handedly cooked and prepped all take out orders while also making sure her employees had daily meals.

“In the service industry, people live day to day, not paycheck to paycheck. Even with unemployment, it was hard because most of the server’s income is from tips,” she explains. “There were a lot of emotions, but we leaned on each other.”

Like many families, Jess’s children were virtually schooling, adding to the challenge of balancing so many roles. To address the stress that so many people were experiencing, Revival started hosting virtual events. “I don’t think people anticipated how the lack of human contact would impact mental health,” she notes. “The news was depressing. Everyone needed some happiness” So despite her already full schedule, Revival Social Club kicked off virtual happy hours, Taco Tuesdays, and a Mother’s Day Tea.

“We had an overwhelming response from people who loved having a chance to have some fun,” Jess shared. “And honestly, it was as much for us as everyone else. Community is important, and we have to keep finding ways to make that happen.”

The days may look different than they did before, but Jess will continue to think outside the box to find ways to make it work and provide the York community with ways to connect and enjoy their dining experience. A strong woman is one who finds a way and brings others with her on the journey.

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