How a crucial enterprise choice in a pandemic labored out for an space Black-owned enterprise

When the restaurant business stumbled, cratered, and recovered in 2020, a small business owner is grateful for the crucial decision she and her boss husband made in starting their own business.

When the restaurant business stumbled, crumbled, and recovered in 2020, a DC area small business owner is grateful for the one critical decision she and her husband made when starting their own business.

Dara Morrison and her Jamaican-born husband Denardo Elcock knew they wanted to share their love for Jamaican cuisine and turn away from catering to events with family and friends, but the question was: should they start a brick factory? Mortar Store or a Food Truck?

Looking back, Morrison was grateful that they chose the food truck model for Rhythm and Flavor.

“We had heard of a disease late last year,” said Morrison, but by mid-March, when they tried to expand, the coronavirus had already been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

They assumed that a food truck would offer flexibility, and that decision paid off in large measure as other food service companies were devastated by emergency orders and downtime.

As for the mobile option for grocery delivery, Morrison said, “We’ve seen business grow as people shrank from restaurants.”

Their venues were constantly changing, sometimes offering customers the option to enjoy their food outside or for those who were less sure they could get out.

“Sometimes people ate in their cars,” said Morrison.

But a visit to a food truck allowed diners to escape the confines of their homes, enjoy restaurant-quality food and, according to Morrison, say “still safe”.

As people stayed home more and more, word of mouth would not help spread the word. Therefore, social media is vital to growing their business, said Morrison.

She added that the NAACP chapter of Anne Arundel County’s “Green Book” helped give her business a boost. In the current version, black-owned companies are listed. The title refers to the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” which was launched in the late 1930s by entrepreneur Harold Green, a postal worker from Harlem, listing companies that welcomed African Americans.

While other food service companies have struggled to reconfigure dining rooms and keep staff safe, Morrison said neither was a problem for their company.

“We’re here together – we went through the pandemic together, so we don’t have to worry about putting other people at risk,” she said.

As with many other companies, they had occasional supply chain problems “because they were able to source some of our items – especially some of our spices,” said Morrison.

Rhythm and Flavor will travel beyond the DMV to Pennsylvania and Delaware, always looking for the restrictions and licensing requirements, said Morrison.

Morrison advises other business owners to “really listen to what your customers, what your market is looking for” and stay flexible.

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