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Slade Stokes, born in 1960, spent his early life in Hickman, Kentucky. When he was nine, his mother moved the family to the West Ashley community of Charleston, South Carolina. He attended the College of Charleston. In 1979, he got a job as a server’s assistant at the East Bay Trading Company on East Bay Street in downtown Charleston. It was a high-volume restaurant, and Stokes quickly moved into the position of server.
After graduating with a degree in business from the College of Charleston, Stokes continued working as a server. Stints at Poogan’s Porch in 1989 and Celia’s Porta Via in 1995 followed. He started serving at Magnolias in 1999. In his estimation, Stokes has waited on over 100,000 people since he began working at Magnolias. He understands success depends on anticipating the needs of his diners.