I have loved cooking and baking since I was a little girl in Jamaica. I once tried to bake my sister a birthday cake using a wood-burning stove. That cake wasn't a success but my latest venture into preparing food for others shows every sign of becoming a big success. Last May I opened “Little Island”, an authentic Jamaican Restaurant, in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
I got the idea to open my restaurant in the summer of 2011. I was taking the science courses I needed to get a degree in nursing, but really wasn't enjoying my studies. When I thought about what I really wanted to do, I kept coming back to my love for the Jamaican food I grew up enjoying.
The next step I took was to start my research — were there any direct competitors in Hillsborough? How far would I be from nearest Jamaican restaurants? What did they serve on their menus? What was their pricing? And, of course, what would it take to open my own restaurant? Could I find a good location? What licenses would I need? What equipment? Who were good, reliable vendors? And most important, what would it cost?
All of this information is necessary, but can be overwhelming. My son, Michael, suggested that I go to SCORE to seek advice. I started working with SCORE mentors in August 2011. My first focus was on forming an LLC and reserving my desired name both as a business and for my website. I then moved on to developing a business plan that would allow me to determine what I would need to invest to open a new business and support that business through the critical first 12 to 18 months of operation.
SCORE Counselors worked with me from early in the planning effort for this business. I first came to SCORE looking for guidance in forming a business entity and establishing a plan for my business. After the initial meeting, SCORE counselors assisted me in developing my business plan, defining strategies for negotiating my lease and determining an initial marketing strategy. I researched the pricing and quality of directly competitive restaurants within a viable commuting distance of my chosen location. SCORE then assisted me in developing a pricing strategy for my own menu that would be both competitive and profitable.
L to R: Gene Strupinski, Hillsborough Township, NJ Business Advocate, June Lee, Ownerand Nancy Bukovina, SCORE Central Jersey Mentor