Tanya Holland started Brown Sugar Kitchen on January 15th, 2008. Her soul food restaurant offered full service dining and some catering. Tanya’s first restaurant was so successful that she leapt at the opportunity to expand to a second location. “We needed to expand since the first business has limited seating and hours and the demand for our product was great, and still is. We’re still busting at the seams now, with 45 minute to hour long waits at both places,” said Tanya about her growing empire.
Tanya found out about OBDC from a neighbor who works at the organization. In 2011, Brown Sugar Kitchen received a $50,000 SBA Microloan from Oakland Business Development Corporation (OBDC) to cover renovations to Tanya Holland’s 60 seat restaurant in West Oakland. The renovations included new flooring, kitchen equipment and a new grease trap. A portion of the proceeds was also used as working capital.
OBDC provided feedback on her growth projections and coordinated with the City of Oakland, which was providing a tenant improvement grant to support the full scope of renovations needed to fulfill the expansion objectives of Brown Sugar Kitchen.
“Tanya understood and had a vision of what she wanted to accomplish with her restaurant, and was prepared to assume the risks of investing in a neighborhood that was just beginning to show its true potential as a food and entertainment destination,” said OBDC Senior Vice President - Lending Scott Lewis. B-Side BBQ opened on December 15th 2011.
With challenges ranging from transitioning from the kitchen to management and finding and retaining quality employees, Tanya has her eye on yet further expansion.
Tanya advises anyone thinking of starting a restaurant or any other business, “Do every job that you might have to hire for so you know what can be done and what it takes.” She currently manages 40 employees between her two locations.
Holland has achieved renown outside of Oakland through her many television and print appearances, whether it is as host of her own series on Food Network and Cooking Channel; as a guest chef on The Today Show, Vh1, The Travel Channel, TV-One, Check, Please! Bay Area, NBC's "First Look," and NPR’s Weekend Edition; or as a feature in Food & Wine, "O" The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Sunset, Gourmet Magazine, and Travel & Leisure. But Holland’s roots and passion are in Oakland.