I am going to cut to the chase, put all my cards on the table and as the Eagle Scout in me dictates and be brutally honest. I had been looking for an investor for 3 years when I found my former partner last year. My original pitch to him was a mobile rig in order to build the brand and then move to brick and mortar. He wanted no part of the mobile rig at the time and infused $50,000 in equipment and working capital on an old restaurant in Roebuck, SC. I am just a working stiff with great ideas and he was the bank. We agreed to a weekly salary for the first year and I would handle operations which for the first 2 months were 92 hours per week. I absolutely loved it. The customers were lined out the door for weeks on end. From June 17th to the end of July we had $101,000 in sales. Week 1 we did $20,000! You would have to see the location to understand how big that was. We were in a crossroads away from all the prime locations. The customers were buying in to the concept 100%. We used small chalkboards to write their name at the register so when the runners took the food to the table the customer would be greeted by name. I was out in the dining room shaking hands at every opportunity. Many customers asked if we were a national franchise because of the branding and food quality.
When I decided this was what I wanted to do I knew we had to be different in order to compete in the burger category. We were different. I landed an exclusive 80/20 chuck blend from Burger Maker in NJ. The quality of that patty was the exact same quality of the bulk blend we started with and were hand pattying. That patty was grilled indoors on outdoor ceramic grills (identical to Big Green Egg) over hickory and oak wood lump charcoal. I also hit the patty with a special dry rub before grilling that gave the burger a truly unique wood-fired taste profile. The fries were Lamb Weston skin on fries that were better than the fresh cut fries we tested. The bun is the same bun Culver’s uses and is nothing short of awesome. To top all that off we had funnel cakes, fried Oreos and fried Snickers. The funnel cake mix I used is a world class mix made with real vanilla from The Funnel Cake Company in Gatlinburg, TN.
I’m sure you are wondering what happened with the investor. Well, September came and that is traditionally the slowest month of the year for restaurants. He began cutting expenses. The first cut was my wife and daughter. He asked them to resign their jobs to join me at the restaurant and decided on September 20th that he didn’t want to pay them anymore. A week later he did the same to me. He broke our contract and refused to pay me. I had no choice but to go find a job and find one fast.
I have kept the Facebook page which still has 1400 Likes. My daughter and I administered the page and that is where the bulk of the business came from. I engaged the customers daily in the restaurant and on FB and it paid off. All of those 1400 to this day want me and my family to re-create Paul’s. That is why I am confident we could open either a food truck or brick and mortar and never miss a lick.
I have a great deal to learn about the financial side of the business beyond labor and food cost. My strength is my absolute passion for my product and willingness to shout it from the rooftops. I think the best way to answer your questions is for us to get on the phone and you tell me what you want and I will do my best to answer. Food Trucks are just starting to pop up here in SC and I think that is where the real opportunity is. Overhead is very low and profits are much higher in that at an event the menu price increases.
I'll never forget this day. A family of 3 comes in and orders 2 doubles and a triple Original Paul's Wood-Fired Burger. When I approach the table there is a Mom, Dad and a young man that looks like he may be a defensive lineman for a high school football team. The Mom and Dad take the doubles and this big kid takes the triple. After he finished it I asked him what he thought and with no hesitation he said, "next time it will be a quad!" Wow, is all could say. Great memories.
Welcome. This blog is a collection of fun, dreams and reflections of what was my nearly 5 year long journey to create Paul's. As I have said before, I don't know what the future holds for The Original Paul's Wood-Fired Burgers but I do know this: I am forever grateful for my family, my old friends and all the new friends we have gained through the experience. Thanks to All, Paul.
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As I have talked with people over the last month or so I have been asked quite a few times "What made Paul's so special?" I think it was a combination of things. First.... of all I had great proprietary recipes that truly made the food special. ( BTW...I still own those exclusively :) Second.... I think it was our philosophy. My family and I were determined from the beginning not to be open on Sunday. Chick-fil-a has done an amazing job of only being open 6 days per week I know our great customers appreciated us being closed on Sunday. Third...The personal touch of the mini chalkboards made us very unique. I am proud to say that was my idea. I wanted a place like the Cheer's theme song, "A place where everybody knows your name." I know our great customers appreciated us calling them by name and I enjoyed getting to know them by name. Finally.....I am proud of all the great TEAM members my wife and I hired. Beth and I interviewed and hired each and every one of them. We lost a few for various reasons and that's to be expected. It's unfortunate all of those great TEAM members don't know the truth as to why my family and I are no longer at the restaurant but I am at peace with the fact that one day when they do learn the truth, they will have a different opinion of what happened.
I have no regrets. Do I wish things could have been different? Absolutely! My family and I still control the recipes, the DREAM, and with all the support from our great new and old friends, if we do bring back The Original Paul's, we will no doubt be very successful once again.
During the last month and a half my family and I have had the pleasure of seeing what real friends truly are. We have had, prior to opening the restaurant, total strangers walk up and offer to pay our mortgage payment, help us with attorney's fees, offer to invest in the next Paul's venture, and much, much more. This my friends is what it is all about. My dream in opening Paul's was to be different in every aspect and we were. Because of those differences we made literally hundreds of new friends. Those same friends, YOU, are supporting us to this day with positive comments on Facebook as well as the dozens of private messages we have and are receiving.
AS I have stated multiple times on Facebook, I don't know what the future holds for Paul's. I know what I want to happen but once again I need investment and you can bet this time I will be ultra careful in my decisions.