Simon Sinek popularized a phrase a few years ago. “Start with Why.” When you’ve discovered your “Why,” you’ve defined the purpose for your life. However, I would continue this thought with the “Who” as an important component as well.
I met April Browning in March 2019. She shared how she wanted to open a restaurant in Hamlin, WV, where she lives. We spent time developing the business plan, strategy, finances, personal preparation, marketing, menu development, pricing structure, staffing schedules, Point of Sale systems, etc.
April began participating in Barbecue competitions in 2017. Carnivore BBQ Sauce became publicly available for purchase in 2018. Also, in 2018, she began catering office parties and other events. It seemed that the next logical step would be to open a restaurant. Now, she needed to answer two “Who?” questions as we took the next steps.
⦁ Who am I?
April stated, “I value family and want to help my community experience healthy relationships by giving them a place to enjoy a meal together.” Family is important.
⦁ Who will be buying what I’m selling?
In Hamlin, community relationships are strong. April asked the Vocational students of Lincoln County High School to build the shed to cover the smoker as well as build the tables for the restaurant. The Welding Department students made her logo to be displayed in the restaurant (shown to the left).
As April and I developed the business plan, we discussed the importance of gaining and maintaining momentum. April began setting up her Food Trailer 1-2 times per month. The popularity continued to grow. Finally, she took possession of the property at 8515 Court Avenue in Hamlin, WV and renovations began. She moved her Trailer to the parking lot outside her restaurant to build location awareness among the community. Weekly, she smoked racks of ribs and pork and sold out of the trailer. And, as she did so, her sales continued to increase.
Finally, on February 27, 2020, Carnivore BBQ opened with a reception for friends and family. To the right is April’s family (Jared, April, Jon, and Josh). They opened the next day. During the fir
st two weeks, they served more than 200 people per day.
Barbecue dishes are the consistent food. Carnivore BBQ offers 5 different barbecue sauces, all made from scratch. Deep Fried Deviled Eggs are offered on the menu and low-carb options are available. Smoked Chicken Salad and T-Rex (Loaded Baked) Potatoes are popular. Each morning, they begin smoking their meat around 8 am. As the meat smokes, the restaurant fills with people. They do not offer a drive-thru for order but do for pickup. However, the dining room, like the community, is filled with caring conversations of families, co-workers, and friends.
To reinforce the family values, they do not have TVs. Instead, there are games people can play as they wait for food. Tables can easily be moved to accommodate larger group size. And, the cell service is spotty and inconsistent (though Wi-Fi is available for those who can’t seem to put our technology aside).
Like April, restaurant owners must be aware of food costs, utilities, labor costs, preparation time, portion control, theft, and limited food waste as expenses over which you have some control. However, you must also be aware of fixed costs, like rent, mortgage, insurance, some utilities, etc. Not every item has the same profit margin, but when averaged, I encourage the total to be below 27% of gross income. At first, finding this balance may require some adjustment. But, adjusting early and often is the entrepreneurial way and increases the greatest chance of success.
Accounting, management, and marketing are the machines that help to fulfill the “who” and “why” of existence. But, that’s another subject for another time. Soon, we will talk about “how” to operate your business in a way that results in the best scenario for you, as the owner. And, then, we will discuss the “What” of your existence.
Until next time.