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. 

How SCORE Helped: 

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.

What's Great About My Mentor?: 

L to R: Gene Strupinski, Hillsborough Township, NJ Business Advocate, June Lee, Ownerand Nancy Bukovina, SCORE Central Jersey Mentor

 

My Mentors