Business Success on the Go
Red Bone Caribbean Fusion Catering is a food truck success story on the go. The business got off to a promising start in 2012 only to experience a detour when sales failed to meet expectations. As a result, the Red Bone truck was parked for two years. In 2016 the food truck was back on the road thanks to the newly-launched Lean Program for food makers at the SBDC at Community Business Partnership (CBP).
Chris Pryce and his mother Chef Patsy started Red Bone Caribbean Fusion Catering to introduce Caribbean cuisine to the Northern Virginia market. “Chef Patsy worked in the hotel industry for many years and picked up bits and pieces from the chefs,” Pryce says. “Chef Patsy used my grandmother’s recipes for Jamaican dishes, and people would go out of their way to have her cook for them.”
Results during the first year of business, however, were disappointing. “The dishes were tasty and of high quality, but somehow the demand was not there,” Pryce adds. In March 2016, Pryce added a new partner and relaunched the business with a menu of typical Jamaican dishes. Sales were better, about $350 per day, but still not up to expectations.
In September 2016, Pryce went to see the SBDC at CBP Director Gisèle Stolz. “I was accepted into the SBDC’s new Lean Program designed specifically for food makers, and it really opened my eyes,” Pryce says. “We had class every Thursday on marketing as well as regular business classes.” Pryce learned to improve the presentation of his food, streamline his menu, and reach out to his customers to obtain their feedback. He also tried new locations for the food truck and dropped some of the less profitable spots.
“The SBDC classes provided an all-around package for my business,” Pryce says. “The SBDC and Gisèle Stolz helped me see things in a different way. Understanding my customers and making small changes made all the difference. My sales have gone up by 80% in just a few months. That was because I finally asked my customers what they wanted.”
Future plans include a catering business and partnerships with other food vendors to provide a full meal including dessert. “Eventually, with help from the SBDC, I’d like to open a brick and mortar restaurant,” Pryce says. “The SBDC showed me how to make those little changes that made all the difference. The greatest loss is being unwilling to learn!”