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From their kitchen to your table, catering to eat-in, 21 ShortStop is serving up southern cooking with a spice of business acumen. One patron says “I really like this place, southern cooking at its best! Nice portions, good selection, flavorful and affordable...yum!” Before the lights go on in the kitchen Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Johnson understand firsthand what it means to have a business plan that they follow just like a recipe.
Mr. Arthur Johnson came to The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Savannah for help with opening 21 ShortStop, a restaurant in Pt. Wentworth, Georgia offering “Southern Cooking with a Touch of Soul”. Mr. Johnson already owned some land on Highway 21 between Savannah and Rincon that he believed would be an excellent location for his restaurant. He needed help developing a business plan and acquiring funding so he could build and open the restaurant on his land. His wife Sandra had extensive experience and would run the restaurant with the assistance of other family members.
The SBDC is a center for the delivery of joint government, academic and private sector services for the benefit of small business and the national welfare. It is committed to the development and productivity of business and the economy in specific geographical regions. “The Savannah SBDC takes great pride in assisting and enhancing the small business sphere, one entrepreneur at a time,” said Kyle Hensel, Area Director.
Consultants at the Savannah SBDC worked with Mr. Johnson to help him determine what it would take to make his dream a reality and to help him overcome obstacles to preparing the site for the construction of the restaurant. “It has been a pleasure working with the Johnson’s in making their dream a reality,” said Connie Edwards, SBDC Consultant. “They both have a big appetite for learning the ropes and leaving no stone unturned to ensure they are business savvy,” said Edwards. Mr. Johnson received advice concerning the start-up process and recordkeeping issues. The SBDC, an expert in following the formula to business success, time and time again, worked with him extensively to help him complete a loan proposal with startup costs and financial projections to present to potential lenders.
Like most entrepreneurs, the Johnson’s needed capital to realize their dreams and implement their business plan. The Johnson’s successfully obtained a SBA 504 loan through the Coastal Area District Development Authority (CADDA) and participating bank BB&T. The SBA 504 loan program can be used to purchase commercial real estate, as well as major machinery and equipment. 21 Shortstop was built and opened in August 2010. “21 Short Stop is an excellent example of how a small business can leverage a number of SBA programs to satisfy their need for hands on technical assistance, mentoring from an experienced entrepreneur and financing to launch the project,” said Terri Denison, District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration.
As the business has grown, the Johnson’s have continued to use the services of the Savannah SBDC, including developing and implementing effective marketing methods and expanding catering services. SBDC consultants also introduced Mr. Johnson to a SCORE counselor with extensive experience in public relations who worked with Mr. Johnson to improve his marketing efforts.
Mr. Johnson again returned to the SBDC to receive assistance with expanding the business to include a mobile food truck through which Mr. Johnson now provides food services at the Port of Savannah. He is currently working on obtaining a second mobile food truck to serve businesses in West Chatham County.