The Wooden Spoon
Yvette Daniel opened The Wooden Spoon in Richmond in 2018, motivated by one unflinching principle: to provide cuisine that was as healthy and nourishing for her customers as it was tasty.
“When you feed the body, you nourish the soul,” Yvette explains. “All of the food here is made from high-quality, organic ingredients — all of it. I grew up in Spain, and food there is all about being authentic and clean and is made from very good, quality ingredients. Everything is made from scratch. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love.” For Yvette, that includes everything from imported Spanish olive oil and butter, to locally sourced meat and organic eggs from free-range Virginia farms. While these ingredients are the hallmark of The Wooden Spoon’s unique cuisine, they aren’t cheap.
Early on, as a fledgling small business committed to quality, The Wooden Spoon struggled to keep up with expenses. That’s when Yvette got in touch with the Capital Region SBDC, and her advisor, Rodney Williams, scheduled a site visit.
“I ended up writing Rodney at the SBDC, asking how they could help, and he wrote back saying that he was at my restaurant two weeks ago and it was amazing,” Yvette says. “He came in, we met, and he helped me with everything. He very quickly got me approved for a small business loan of $50,000, which helped a lot.”
That loan provided Yvette with the capital to keep The Wooden Spoon afloat in its early days while also allowing her to maintain her commitment to providing fresh, high-quality meals. “The small loan was amazing,” she adds. “It helped me cover some very important expenses I had, so I was super grateful for that grant.”
Now, more than three years after opening, The Wooden Spoon has built a loyal customer base, which Yvette believes is heavily influenced by her restaurant’s emphasis on quality over quantity and the sanctity of a good meal shared among friends and family.
“I teach my staff to learn our customers’ names. We don’t rush people,” she explains. “Our customers can stay as long as they want. I don’t want to turn over tables; I want people to enjoy themselves.” As word gets around about Yvette’s health-focused cooking, more people can do just that at The Wooden Spoon.