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Homeless Mom Builds a Business and a New Life with SBA Programs

Homeless Mom Builds a Business and a New Life with SBA Programs to Help Family and Community

Situation

Christy Clark spent years as a homeless single mother trying to escape an abusive relationship. She moved over 60 times in 10 years to protect herself and her children. In 2006, she moved to Bardstown and opened Christy’s Collections  and Sew It Seam with her mother and daughter.

Over the next few years and several relocations, the company evolved into Mammy’s Kitchen, a full-service restaurant and bar. The restaurant was named in honor of Christy’s grandmothers. The home cooking and family atmosphere were a hit with the local crowd as well as the tourists visiting Bardstown, a historic and charming town.

Solution: How the SBA Helped

In 2014, Christy negotiated a lease-purchase agreement for building long occupied by a local landmark restaurant. She worked with business coach Steve Heil from the Elizabethtown SBDC. Steve helped her develop a business plan for the building and loan. Christy renovated the space in 2015, and Mammy’s Kitchen had a new home.

However, business grew more rapidly than anticipated. The restaurant size had increased 500%. Staff grew similarly. Christy again worked with Steve at the SBDC to stop the cash drain and secure working capital.

By 2016, Christy was financially strong enough to buy the building. Three loans in three years fueled the rapid growth of Mammy’s Kitchen. But she was not done.

In 2017, she launched a cooking show, which a local cable channel filmed and broadcasted and local advertisers funded. A larger cable channel now broadcasts the show, providing a multi-state audience for patrons who enjoy Mammy’s recipes.  

Successful Impact/ Outcome

Then the pandemic struck. Christy rolled up her sleeves, applied successfully for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance grant, as well as a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan. The cash influx helped save the business and almost 50 jobs. Like with previous loans, she worked with Wilson & Muir Bank, an SBA lender.

She said about her experience with Wilson & Muir Vice President Drew Ballard, “He did everything. I applied for the PPP, and the process went quickly and smoothly.”     

Business is almost back to normal. Familiar faces are seen in Mammy’s Kitchen & Bar, and Christy and her team are whipping up great dishes again. She has even done several virtual events for the Bourbon Festival and National Bourbon Day.

Christy gives back by investing time and money into causes for the homeless, including Bethany Haven Shelter for women and children. She  was asked to be a board member because of her life experience and joined the board in 2019.

Christy has helped raise funds for the homeless shelter with pie sales at Mammy’s Kitchen. Her fundraising efforts helped renovate the shelter. The board thought so much of Christy’s dedication that they recently renamed the women’s and children’s shelter Christy’s Place.

A transitional shelter for men, Harbour House Inn, was also opened, and Room in the Inn, an emergency overnight shelter for men, women and children, recently opened. “This has been one of my greatest accomplishments,” Christy stated.

Mr. Ballard stated, “We are lucky to have Christy as one of our community partners. Her passion for the service industry is evident. She has devoted much of her time giving back to the community. We couldn’t be more proud of her.”

She also supports Shop with a Cop and provides food and clothing to families in need. Christy was named the 2020 SBA Kentucky Woman Owned Small Business of the Year.

Company Name: 
Mammy’s Kitchen & Bar, LLC
Location: 
Bardstown, KY
File Attachments: 
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