Speakers: Joy Dukes, Dukes Culinary
Greg Brown, The Land of Kush
Always had a passion for culinary services, following the footsteps of her other family members who were successful in the culinary/hospitality industry. Her experience began while enlisted into the military as a dining facilities officer she then became a general manager of a franchiser where she discovered that she was comfortable in the hospitality/culinary industry. In 2010,is when Ms. Dukes went into business for herself and opened her franchise, shortly after she opened her own culinary business. Ms. Bukes became a MBA student through her relationship with Morgan State faculty that she met through conducting business for her franchise on Morgan State’s campus. She later earned her Master’s degree in Business.
Brief Bio: 100% vegetarian and 100% vegan restaurant. After graduating from Morgan State with a Degree in Accounting, Greg worked at a call center which he abhorred. Greg’s dream was to open a restaurant, but with little to no experience or money that seemed like a far fetched dream. Greg soon realized that his dream was not so far fetched after all..he began to teach himself how to cook and received feedback from family and friends. This newly gained skills helped him become successful at his first gig at the Jazz Festival. Where he hosted his first vegan food stand. Proceeding this first gig, Greg was inspired to move forward in pursuing his dream in the restaurant industry. He knew his target market and what dishes to sell. Greg also chose to branch out to offer vegan soul food dishes. His business opened in January 2011 and has been thriving ever since.
- How was the process of opening your restaurant?
- Greg: Finding a space was the hardest part. He used online resources geared towards restaurant spaces to find his first location. Most properties were in Fells Point. “The main point is to stay motivated and open minded throughout the search.” Be open to considering every location because they do not come easy to find. “One goal was to live over top of their restaurant and they luckily found that at their current location.”
- Is it hard to find a restaurant location with restaurant equipment already included?
- Greg: There were a lot of options of spaces with equipment already installed. “You’ll find a lot of spaces looking to replace current restaurants with a new look”, You find a lot of spaces that will work with your concept just enough to get you started” All I had to do was install the hood station”
- How was the paperwork?
- Go to the health department...ask “How do I open a restaurant?”
- Read all documents and utilize your resources
- Go to State Department
- Get your incorporation (8th Floor), LLC or corporation started there
- Do your research, ask questions and follow directions
- Pass inspections, dealing with contractors with installing equipment.
- Visit the Fire department for various health inspections or more awareness on health regulations.
- “Learn your industry, learn your business”
- “Once you have your safety inspections your good to go”
- “You have to inspect what you expect from people”
- “Following up with people and keeping up with them is key”
- “If people can get a feel of who you are, they are more likely to being open to supporting your business”
- Shameless self-promotion
- Participating in Festivals
- Taking down email address and following up when there was a pop up shop
- Social Media
- Walked neighborhoods, handing out business cards one by one
- Networking events
- Word of mouth, built a fan base
- Challenges? How do they affect running your business? Low Margins?
- Greg: Yes, margins are low and volumes are high. “You have to know your numbers” Utilized Quickbooks
- Consistently watch your numbers
- Labor costs, food costs, monthly expenses, monthly spending. “You have to make a profit”
- “You can bring in all the volume you want, but if your food costs and expenses are high it’s meaningless because you have to make profit.”
- Why a Franchise and not an independent restaurant?
- Joy: “Securing capital was easier, because it was an exclusive brand. It was easier to get a capital loan. Subway as a brand has a really good survival rate” Good survival rates makes it easier in banks approving you for loans because it is proven that the company will thrive and last.. Wanted to also provide healthy food to students on the campus of Morgan State University.
- Did you specifically choose Morgan as a location?Or did you go after it because of the convenience of it being available?
- Joy: At the time of making these decisions, Ms. Dukes was a Corporate training officer. Was a low-risk decision in terms of budget and funding.
- “Match your passion with your industry” (Tweet This)
- “You have to love it, it’s a lot of work and passion that goes behind what you do” (Tweet This)
- “I had a strong relationship with Morgan and the community surrounding it.” (Tweet This)
- “It gives you a bit of ease when going into the restaurant industry when starting with Franchising first” (Tweet This)
- “If you’re getting into the restaurant industry just know it will be hard work and long hours” (Tweet This)
- “You can bring in all the volume you want, but if your food costs and expenses are high it’s meaningless because you have to make profit.” (Tweet This)
- “5:30am- FAINT” (Tweet This)
- “If people can get a feel of who you are, they are more likely to being open to supporting your business”(Tweet This)
- “Learn your industry, learn your business” (Tweet This)
- “Once you have your safety inspections your good to go” (Tweet This)
- “You have to inspect what you expect from people” (Tweet This)
- “Following up with people and keeping up with them is key”(Tweet This)
- “You have to know your numbers” (Tweet This)
- “One goal was to live over top of their restaurant and they luckily found that at their current location.” (Tweet This)
- “The main point is to stay motivated and open minded throughout the search.” (Tweet This)
- “You’ll find a lot of spaces looking to replace current restaurants with a new look” (Tweet This)
840 N Eutaw St. Baltimore, MD 21201