LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Throughout the pandemic, many restaurants have permanently closed, and some have even transitioned from brick-and-mortar to food trucks to save money. But one woman from Arkansas went the other way, starting as a food truck amid tough times and then becoming a franchise.
You could say there’s a crazy way to open a restaurant, and some would say Maryann Strange is crazy for opening not one but two restaurants during a global pandemic.
When opening the business, YGFBF Kitchen Restaurant & Catering, Strange noted that it started with just two employees. However, this number quickly began to increase.
“With the Conway location, we started with 10 to 12 employees and this location will probably have 37 to 38 employees,” she explained from her second location, which will open west of Little Rock in a location previously housing Bone’s Chophouse on Rahling Road. .
The rapid expansion has definitely raised the temperature on the business side.
” It was not easy. It was kind of like, ‘Whoa, I need to hire more people. I have to pay more rent. I have to buy more food,” Strange said.
Those “whoas,” felt by many others in the restaurant industry, have been echoed by data according to economist Michael Pakko.
“Supply chain issues affect the underlying costs of restaurants,” Pakko explained, stressing the importance now of knowing how to meet consumer needs. “I think the ones that survive today are the ones who can best bring value to delivering food to the customer.”
But what makes YGFBF Kitchen so successful?
“I think it’s a combination of having a good quality product that actually supports you and being a manager or a boss that’s kind to your employees,” Pakko said.
Having a good quality product isn’t the only thing that keeps Strange’s business afloat. Part of the businesswoman’s secret sauce is her savvy business skill set.
“You listen to these economists who say there’s no end in sight to falling food prices,” she said. “So what am I selling if I can’t get chicken at a good price? What can I substitute for it to just be trying to pivot from things that are already happening? »
Every day, Strange reassesses the costs, and she said she’ll even change the menu to make it more cost-effective.
“I mean, I’m a researcher. I’m a Googler, I Google a lot, like what can I substitute without reducing the quality of the food,” she explained.
At the end of the day, when Strange reflects on what got her here, all the stress is worth it. “I mean I have a really good support system. My husband, he pushes me. My kids, they say ‘Mom, we’ve got you if we have to do anything,'” she said. “They are really understanding.”