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

 

Little Island Authentic Jamaican Cuisine

My Mentors