Jim Dokuyucu and Deanna Teel are the owners of the Turquoise Grill & Bar restaurants. The Turquoise Grill offers a wide variety of healthy, Mediterranean and Turkish-inspired dishes. They have two locations and both were financed with SBA loans.
The first Turquoise Grill, opened in 2003 on trendy Kirby St. in Houston, grew very popular and received rave reviews. It was rated as one of the top 100 restaurants in Houston and best Mediterranean restaurant for several years in a row. The opening of their second restaurant in Sugar Land’s prime location of Town Square was much anticipated by local residents. Jim and Deanna are residents of Sugar Land since 1994, so when they were approached about opening a second location there, they were excited about the idea of bringing their cuisine to their home community.
Jim always wanted to start his own business and when he was pink slipped from corporate America, he decided it was time to fulfill his dream. Jim came to the United States from Turkey in 1982 with $200. He worked hard and was promoted to various management positions at several major corporations. The food and management experience he acquired gave him the confidence to open his own business. His love of cooking and his Turkish heritage, whose culture is centered on hospitality and food, gave him the inspiration to open a restaurant business.
Jim runs the day to day operations of the restaurant and his wife Deanna handles the recordkeeping and PR. Deanna has a Master’s in International Business and a teaching background. She currently teaches small business management at Houston Community College. As a business owner, she is able to share real life entrepreneurship experiences with her students.
Jim and Deanna’s strong business background play a major role in the success of their business but they also credit their success to dedication, hard work, and determination. “Starting a business is not easy because you don’t have the resources given to you by the big corporations,” recalls Jim, who remembers how much time and research he and Deanna put into their business plan. There are many resources available for people interested in starting a business and Jim and Deanna were able to utilize the services from the Small Business Development Center, a resource partner of the SBA.
Business ownership often comes with many challenges and obstacles. Jim and Deanna’s advice to anyone starting a business is to do your research, understand the business, be willing to devote long hours and have determination and passion. One of the challenges they faced early on was obtaining capital to start the business. Their initial loan application was turn down by a local bank. Although discouraged, they tried again with another lender and were approved for a SBA loan. “The loan terms were so favorable and we couldn’t have done it without the SBA,” said Deanna. They also financed their second restaurant with a SBA loan.
A major challenge in the restaurant business is the high turnover rate of labor. Jim and Deanna realized this and believe that the employees play a significant part of a successful business. They believe in the investment of their employees, treating them fairly, encouraging them to do their best, and offering promotions and upward mobility.
The Turquoise Grill & Bar is a family-owned business where customers are welcomed and treated like family. During their free time, Jim and Deanna enjoy spending time with family and participating in and supporting local events.