Pearl Island Foods
Sober Pierre initially came to Charlottesville to get his MBA at the University of Virginia’s Darden School. This, along with his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering, made him a very desirable candidate for corporate America. He held positions at Emerson, Caterpillar, and John Deere. After some reflection, he recognized that his passion wasn’t for the corporate world; he wanted to follow his heart and do something on his own terms.
In 2013, Sober founded Pearl Island Foods to showcase his Haitian culture, make flavorful Caribbean food accessible to the Charlottesville community, and to one day create job opportunities in his family’s beloved country of Haiti.
The company began with the production and sales of a unique brand of spicy coleslaw known as Pikliz. Since then, Sober has joined forces with Executive Chef Javier Figueroa-Ray and successfully launched Pearl Island Catering and Pearl Island Cafe, featuring authentic Caribbean cuisine accessible to the Charlottesville area.
Pearl Island’s success didn’t come without growing pains. Sober sought help from the Central Virginia SBDC along the way. Over the years, Business Advisor Dillon Franks has provided research and business-strategy advice and has assisted Sober with obtaining angel funding. In the wake of the 2020 pandemic, the SBDC’s Business Communications Advisor Greg Dorazio assisted Sober and his team as they pivoted the business to a food-delivery strategy. To help Sober with personnel challenges caused by COVID-19, Sober leaned on Yolunda Harrell, an SBDC Business Advisor.
Sober has also found time to give back to the local community, serving on the Heal Charlottesville grant fund review committee (part of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation), and on the board of City Schoolyard Garden. He is also a graduate of the Board Development Academy, a program of Charlottesville’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence.