'Lovett’s Soul Food' Heats Up with Makeover | Small Business Revolution - Main Street: S3E5
We're here in Upper Alton we're about to surprise love it Mary and Brad do not know that we're about to walk in and tell them that they've been one of the businesses selected, yes so. This, I'm really looking forward to they've, got some delicious food, we're totally we can also snack while we're here hopefully we'll get some of their famous smooch, I get, the feeling they're gonna be very excited. Small. Towns across the country are fighting for their survival if, the odds stacked against, them but what happens if we join that fight if we dedicate, a little money a lot of experience, and thousands, of hours of work into one small town focusing. On the businesses, that are the heart of their Main Street what started, as an idea became, a national, movement with over 30,000. Towns nominated. For the $500,000. Makeover, and more than a million votes cast from. Now. In our third season the team is taking on its biggest challenge ever the town is three times bigger than any we've helped before and the hurdles home faces, will put to the test the very idea of Main Street America, so Amanda Brinkman and her team of marketing experts, at deluxe our goal door for the people of Alton Illinois and, they're, not alone new, season three co-hosts Ty Pennington will, be working with the team to rehabilitate. The town's buildings while a whole cast of experts helps rehabilitate its, businesses, every, episode, we'll be working with a new small business, to see if we can change the odds if, together, we, can start a revolution. A. Lot. Of the hydrogen's that are considered. Soulful that's. The food that the slaves had. They. Had to think what hey you, know the slave owners threw it out they don't want these greens well okay what can we do with you, know it takes loves, this. Like a sweet potato pie, you. Have to get your potatoes right, and you know love of it caress them like that your woman are your man you know to be if. You don't have any love and your food is not so food it's just food, come. In Tom you the only one that can keep this baby quiet, I'm gonna give her to you if you. You. Know that when you're dying in half soul food it's, gonna be some, talking going on at the table yeah it's family-oriented, anytime you deal with soul, food usually, with your family, and that's what brings people together right, we've. Been coming to the lovers ever since they existed. Food. Is great some of the best soul, food that. I've ever tasted I love the snooze. You, know here snoops, a pig nose is, this is that the other comes. Down to us a homemade pork rind like my mom always say that pig is nothing but a big pork rind anyway I'm. The king of snoops, made my mind run this joint here but the family, is big, and strong my, father was a big part and you have to be some kind of formative feedback and children, I. Have. 18. Siblings the, grandkids, we. Lost count I think it's probably close, to by 200, fake. 10%, of the population Alton. Has loved it as a last name so, a great family, great family, care in that business and absolutely tremendous food, and, uh Perrault and they were born the first to come in with a full scale restaurant. Up there we. Moved up here it was just the barber shop and this loan place next door now, you see all the buildings are up here our field yeah I guess everybody started believe with it you know it can't be a good place to start a business. Rats. Here all the time he's. Either out serving. The people or he's in the back cooking this. Place was my grandfather's, drain but it turned into my dream so now you know I'm ten toes down seven. Days a week I work. 12:00 at night to, 8:00 in the morning and Rommel, shifts I fit in the restaurant, but, if I could do anything I, would love to be loved, it's full-time yeah. There's. Been many times that we you know we have struggled to stay open you know it's big butts go by without me been even making a paycheck the, lowest vacation I took was three days you. Know the last three years what. Was we make it more of, course but. When people come in here and say they ride past there every day and they need to be noticed we were here yeah. This, is my life this is everything. That I, didn't, know that I wanted my, grandfather's, name right dog this you know when. I get tired I just think about he told us I he picked cotton as a kid for 18 hours a day you know I could, push through this why, would not put blood sweat tears, in it.
Most. Entrepreneurs, don't shirt with a pile of capital, and a business plan the, Lovett story is much more common, a strong, family a passion. And an, insane amount of work but. Making the transition from informal, beginnings, to, a carefully, structured business can. Be incredibly, difficult the. Brutal truth is most places never make it over that hump marry. And brand are obviously, doing something right they've, made it three years but. They seem to be treading water and a business, is like a shark, move, or die it's. Time to take Lovitz to the next level. Enter. Celebrity, chef Deborah Van trees her. Recipes, have been featured at the legendary James Beard House and her restaurant twisted, soul is one of Atlanta's most, popular, hot spots, Zagat. Named her on their list of 15, badass, female chef tsunamis, and as owner of a successful catering company, in addition to the restaurants, this lady clearly knows how to make things from. This. Back here is considered, my house right okay. All. Right. Let's see what we got all right okay. Well right now I'm kind, of boiling some snoots we'll be getting back nice. And tender at everything so. That's this one of our coolers right there no. We just got to work with what we got. But. We could only hold two or three days with your product and, to get the best price you have to buy in bulk yes ma'am yes, ma'am, I'm. Definitely worried, about, what, we can do you know cause looking at the kitchen you, know it would be something I would love to just you know gut it and start. All over again. I think. Some, other pieces of equipment will. Help people they have like home deep freezers, you know it would be nice if they had a virtual, freezer do. You guys have additional, storage yes we do, as. You see it's Jim. Okay. All. Right where. Are we looking at here this. Is the old-fashioned, soda phone you, know we first came here I didn't know what it was I thought it was just like a beer tapper so it's, not functional, right now it says folks, no at all because. If you pull out of real estate right now right in your front area mm-hmm, just walking. Around the restaurant we can already see plenty that needs to be done but, as far as the kitchen I feel like I need a little more first-hand, knowledge so. I'm stepping into Brad's house for a crash course in snoots, well, welcome. To cooking with the king. The. Bag okay, oh my. Gosh like the actual nostril, can, you lay it out turn. It over and kind of slice it making. Yes, slice. Of days like. I'm nailing this man. Doesn't natural, she, is a natural snoot one, gonna. Walk over to the fryer get. This throw them in there. You. Don't see anymore. I've. Got like 5 scoot jokes and that was the best one. With. The suits in the fryer it's, time to get serious leave. In abysus three air seems, okay so are, you making a profit yet, are you feeling good about where it's going and I do. Feel that we. Are making some, headway but I need to really, sit down and really get into it okay yeah okay and you're, working somewhere, else awesome, and then you're here all the time all the serve okay, smooth so the goal is to get you some help absolutely.
Okay Okay. Because you'll burn yourself out, mm-hmm and that thing that was so fun that you were proud of will. Become, like a boulder, on your back let's. Talk a little bit about what. Do you want people, to. Know you for. Hmm. I don't. Want you to come in and be like it's. Service snoot so they try to be all fine diet you know snoots or like get your hands dirty you know I want. You to feel like almost like you go, to the circus when you company you're gonna come in you know if you're happy it might get you a chocolate, soda you, know I just liked the whole I don't I might be all over the place but that's. Just me you know I got my new ice cream I would admit my fried kool-aid ice cream you know about but, it's not what you do yeah, it's like stay focus on what you do soul, food what this happens to business owners like across the country is it's part of what makes you a successful, entrepreneur is, that attraction, to new ideas and creativity and, inventing, things yeah you, can confuse, people focus, on what you do first, well you know it sounds to me that it is a lot about family, and. Friendship, you know here and I think your place should reflect all, of that now. And. I don't think that it is I don't think it's hitting it on the nail there's. A lot in the window you know to the point where you can't see in the. The photos of the food yeah I don't think they're helping you sell food, it's, a beautiful, space, so. I think you should play up to some, of the aesthetics of this space, they really ceilings are gorgeous, and I think, there are parts of it that we want to definitely preserve. But clean, them up a bit you, know I think it can happen a lot in your own house too where you start to not notice that you just have things randomly place because you live in it every day but that is kind of that customer experience so, it's, like clutter, it's like clutter yeah I noticed. That there's kind of there's a broken window and there's some spots in the floor that seem more like they'd be inline with things that should be covered under your lease have you talked with your landlord about either of those fixes. Oh yeah, we've discussed, that several times like, the awning, it. Got so bad, and he, was like okay I'll get around to it I'll get around to it and, he never did so I called one of my brothers I said get the Harley down, how, long does release, we. Don't we don't even do a list with them you, know we're just here mock, them up oh. There. Might be something, you want to fix before you start putting money into. Repairing. Things because you don't want something to happen after, you've upgraded in, some. Kind of way they push you out so, I think, that definitely is, something you, want in writing. We've. Got to get this lease issue issue figured out because Upper Alton needs, lights the. Area is up-and-coming but it's been a long slow, flame and, on our very first tour of Alton we learned that this neighborhoods, businesses, haven't. Always gotten the same kind of support that others have, do. You feel like this area gives us as much attention as, other, parts of town or not not. At all we're, in the lower-income, part, that these were predominantly. Black areas, these. Guys work hard. Every. Single day. And like. A lot of other african-american, businesses they got more challenges, sometimes than anybody. Else and they've never given up on the dream that, their neighborhood, is gonna come back there, in the light at the top of the hill that, makes me want to come up at the same time they're not turning a profit, there. Are plenty of changes here but they all get a lot easier if sales go up and that, means getting more people in the book like the restaurant itself love its marketing strategy, has always been pretty informal, is, our job to make sure the brand the space and the online presence feel as professional, as the cooking does and that, starts with a pretty big ask the.
Name Of the restaurant so, when someone, types in love, it's Alton, you are the initial, links that are showing up that's great and we did some research and soul food has five times more searches, than the term southern, food but, you know the word soul food doesn't appear within the, name. Itself okay, well can I can I give you some education real, quick snoots. Are real big in this area you know that's why snoots, first it's newts fish. And chicken that's, why the tables like that I'm not trying to shoot you guys down today but I was just giving, you my opinions, okay I there's. Other places to where we can make sure we're listing things again this is that's, why your web sites can be so vital because we, can add all these keywords, so when people are searching for snute fish chickens, pork anything else exactly. Hey look at shoes, I. Used to I just to do them a little bit stop. With the whole love it soul food that sounds great to be okay, so from a marketing perspective we, really want to make sure that your, personalities. Come through that the brand truly, reflects, what, you want love it to be known for so, take a look at what we have a period. For. B that's. The colors of to doll for B I need bright I need flashy I did you know I did happy, I don't. Know. If. For me I saw, bright, colors. For that particular space, I think, I would use it. More maybe as accent. I, particularly. Love, that vintage feel and I really do think you know in that building you need to play up on what that building is itself, because. You know that look is what was made for you and what you're doing. Even. If we have to keep the pig. Let's. Lay the pig on the table yes let's. Put all of the table is that the pig named. So. It's, not so much that we're against featuring. A pig it's just we wanted to bring to your attention that it communicates more that pulled pork pork sandwiches, and all these other things that you don't currently have on your menu, I mean, to be if you come up with something better than I'm with it you know but if. You can't at, least be right there with it then I will be shooting, it down I'm gonna tell you right off the top maybe, like an updated, version yeah you know that would, coincide more, with the direction, of where everything, else and. Then added, some more pork to that menu so you say that's all right for me to bring back my stew pizza there right if that's if it was snail salad yeah all right this, one is I'm. Like snoot it out. Yes. I think. It's a great American myth that there's equal access to opportunities. To capital, to funding, and Mary, and Brad have done a remarkable job building, a business out of basically, just a love for food but.
Once, You go into a. Restaurant. Atmosphere. You, know it becomes a profession. It's a business it's a business now, but. It's old food came from people who you, know got creative, worked. Hard you. Know and kept, going and that strength will continue. To, wrap itself, around them, and and just move them forward. One. Thing we know for sure because we've, heard it from pretty much everybody, we've talked to an awl is that we don't need to change anything about love it's food it's already, great it's, the experience, that surrounds, the food where we can make an impact and, that means everything from the online menu to the tissue paper in their swimming baskets. Deluxe. Will hire local, contractors, and work with ty on renovating, creating, an atmosphere that will actually help them draw customers in. Deborah. Will continue to advise an Operations, getting, them ready for the traffic we hope will come and the. Deluxe team will handle the marketing and our, job is to amplify, the brand while holding true to who read in your yard. How. About love it's amazing, family-run, business, with, a cool history, I think we have a lot that we can do fit on the line especially, around soul food there's over 60 thousand, searches, for soul, food near me every month so, that's a huge opportunity for them if you are trying to look for a soul food restaurant, in Alton, area Lovett's, is tough to to connect you so we need to make, sure that the marketing that we're doing is focused on how people can find them. Before. We can get to work on renovations, the restaurant, needs a real deep clean, fortunately. The Lovett's have plenty of help and they, all have as Wesley, working. In the kitchen sometimes you have to undo. What somebody, else is that probably, kind of five years before we got here of. A lot of buildup so it's not a single time you get where it needs to be but we're. Going to get it like. A lot of business there piece Mealing things together so the biggest thing that we can do for them is to give them a new, fridge and a new freezer, I think the efficiency, of the kitchen will become a real, key to success. While. The entire Lovett family hits the restaurant cleaned equipped, and ready for its new look we have to figure out what that new look is going to be that. Starts with the logo and in our experience that can be one of the toughest, decisions for, a business owner to make we've. Got four, kind, of different logos to, present, you know Brad loves color and we're. Not losing that it's just smaller doses, of it but still impactful, so. We'll have to see how he reacts, to that. I. Mean. I like the top. Let's. Do it let's do what you want let's just make a decision, is it possible, to pay grits. It is we actually have a take on that right below here. So. We have a logo we can keep moving. All. Right okay, logo, decided, we've, got a logo and a color palette which means, we can get to work on something Lovitz desperately, needs a fresh. Coat of paint what. I see right now there's way too many colors competing, with each other here's, what I would do because they have so many windows and there's so much natural light that comes in you can actually risk, it a little bit and go like a darker. Like like a grey everything. Else pops off of that like you're going a nice we can still leave because, that's your accident the, other thing is a big awning, that's got their new logo the new look so people can see it from the street I agree. I think, it'll, drive a lot more traffic give her the area the. People that already love the food are gonna come there the people have never been in there are, gonna be a little weary of the way the exterior looks the way the sign is some, things need to change to get a few more people, in the door now. One of the eye sores that we're gonna have a challenge with, is that gigantic crocodile window as ELISA, you shouldn't be fixing, the structural, things so we have to help them get a solid lease emplacement these. Problems are one of the most common hurdles we see entrepreneurs makes luckily. When it Alton's most-respected furnaces Sydney alive is volunteering, their services to, guide love it's through the negotiations. So, we're pushing pause on the fun part to deal with the necessary part and in, some ways everything. Else rides on this. Well. The current lease that was proposed that a number of onerous. Clauses. One had to do with the term it was only for one year and then went to month-to-month, also.
If He sold the building that. He could give notice that their terminating, the lease which is very unusual yeah that's the thing I was worried the most about they, got a beautify, it and he's, gonna put it on the market another. Concern is typical. Renter, provision. Is insurance, for their contents, but here's. The setup for insurance. For the entire, building. Like what like let's just play out a scenario like if we don't get them insurance and there's, a fire in the entire building are they then liable, for replacing. The building's for that landlord, well, that argument could be made. Scare. You this scares me, alright. So insurance, feel second we just have to do that to make sure that you're protected, I can't, say, that these negotiations have, gone smooth, he. Has made it sound to us that you've been behind on rent and, when. That happens you do lose your leverage, the thing about that is I can see the guy in the back of the building and tell him you know I want to pay you the rent no no, I have, to wait for him to, engage me ask. Him for the ring did he say it's our fault that it's late you know. Receipt. Actually, you know we have this product called each X which takes out that element. Of waiting, for a physical, transaction, but, it would provide the record absolutely. Excellent. Yeah, yeah that's that way he won't get out of Jack's. Check, the muscle do they call you that at the office building. Regardless. Of the outcome of the landlord this mean has already changed our strategy we. To earmark some of the money Deluxe is putting into lovitz for improvements, to the building but. Insurance, looks like it's the more urgent need and with the future at this location, less than certain well, put whatever is left into things like tables and chairs things that the de Lovett's can take with them wherever they go but. On the legal front we know lovest is in good hands which means we get back to work what we're thinking of doing is changing this blue tooling, some of the yellow. And you really want to be able to you know tell their story you know any time you can humanize, a business, that's always a good way to go we want to really get photography, of like Mary, and Brad interacting, with their customers, like that warm interaction, that you can expect they're also. Build a structure around if it's a base so desperately you need to have people know that they can do take out what the hours are and when they're available to come in and what our suits teach, me a little bit more about soul food when, I was researching on Facebook they post a ton of pictures of their food so, Andrew, was able to create. So. Now imagine their pictures on Facebook but with this great tissue behind it screaming. Lovitz so, we started an Instagram account for, you guys and we linked it to your Facebook page so, do it all the bank we care more do I have to do soap in the bakery, I. Can show you how, we. Can really use social media to. Tap. Into and build some hype around specials. Or around seasonal or you know different menu items throughout the air speaking. Of the menu what's, the love it's protonation it's, pretty long and fairly. Confusing so. Julie's, working with Brad on a less, is more approach the, next one says a half-pound burger and fries what's the difference that's why I find it's a bit less enough to have fun so we got a Midwest with onion rings at 8:00. We, got it we got a range part okay that's what I would think because typically, onion rings are more than french fries it. Doesn't, seem like there's been much science to the food prices, and. We haven't seen any percentages for the restaurant yet so, we're sending in diamond fields week to work with Brad and Mary on the numbers. So. How much is this nice sandwich 758.
With Tax and how much does that sandwich cost you let's. Say what's cost me I think like a dollar, so. How much is this no way for. Us I, love, it. I'm. Hearing, good margins. But. I don't see anything right, so something, so, there's. Other costs in your business or you're not capturing the costs, correctly, in, your business and that being reflected on your statement I think that we just have to really understand, what, is a true cost of producing your product, versus. What is an operating, expense within, your business so, really, focus on these elements don't guess and don't, look at at the end of month and be surprised. I. Always. Love numbers growing up as a kid and, I like making money so if you telling me I'm making more money than hey you're, my best friend. There's. A program called school, mentorship, that would, be a huge. Benefit, to you helping you work through these financials, and helping you understand where you keep drivers oh do. You have things like inventory control, on your books or do you just order, when they it gets low on the shelves, basically. Because. I think we can help you set up an ongoing system. If you don't have one we, partner, up and we, work on how to solve those problems maybe. My favorite part of all of this is that an entire community, has formed around supporting. Lovitz and, we've all done it because we can see the value, that they bring to our own. That and, we love the food. Human. Being spends so much time focused, on their conflicts, it's easy to lose sight of just, how much of our lives we, spend working together, it's. Been a joy working with Mary Brett and we can't wait to get back to open to see the new place and to, deliver a few, less surprises, to set them on their way. Modern. Zdenek. It. Still is very warm and inviting. This. Is incredible. Oh my, gosh we don't greet this counter look really. Look. At the new tables and chairs. And. We added a waiting area for take-out some benches so, I think. That's probably gonna be eating there as well keep working out the turkey boy yeah. They. Took down the pictures of the food, thank. You. It's. Better than your perfect perfect. Your, life is sighs I already, know you're telling me oh you, guys this is incredible. It's. Absolutely. Wonderful yes. The. Future looks really bright it, does. And, this is just begin it is now, that the space is ready, for all these customers, we got to bring people in that's right, I think. We went from ghetto the Bulls you know overnight, but you know I mean I like it though I like the direction is going in so, when, we talked before we. Talked about the. Lease so. What. Happened, where are we was still probably where, we were when we talked before okay. We still don't have a, lease per se uh-huh, but I think he's gonna let. Us stay here okay. We did get some insurance wonderful. That. Was a long. Discussion though right like we had our whole wish list of yes, yes. Yeah. And then we said, it's far, more important, to pay, for a year of insurance, you. Know take, some of the financial, relief off of the business and make sure that you're protected, yeah that's great you know so, I would love to show you some of the marketing anything oh you. Know when people come in here to dine they feel like they're a part of all of its family we wanted to communicate that visually, we've updated the pig so we heard you that the pig was still a really important part of the logo but thank you modernized, it a bit yeah I love it what do you think Brad it's great good it's, wonderful. One. Of the other things that was really important, as Google actually has a, designation. For soul food so be added soul food to, the. Qualifier, of restaurant, and soon, as that happened, people, who are calling yes, that's the day I learned to trust the process asked. Everybody well how did you find out about the. Google soul food, okay. Yes I can't believe I was wrong. That. Never happens, right. So.
This Is the new web oh wow, that is gorgeous. Yes. Lead. With food imagery, but, we're leading with love, so. That's why we have you guys front and center right down home and soul food filled with flavor and love we want you people to really understand that's, your differentiator, is the experience, that they get when they come in here and they spend time with the two of you the website, makes people take you more serious, as a business, also the. Two most visited pages on a restaurants, website is the home page and the menu pages I like how this menu is designed, to it's a lot easier to, read and the photos are really, really, beautiful some, reasons I just want to bite that screen that's. Bike. Yeah, so. One. Of the other things we got for you was a sandwich board so we can put this. You. Meet them really nice and large so that your to-go boxes, can fit within it but, like this just elevates, you as a business it does much it does this looks like a legit, recipes and 11:00 right it's so great we, also thought it would be really fun to have custom boxes for your fried kool-aid. And. Then we have tada. The. New menus oh those, are nice the weight of the paper the, coding the, way it's been organized it just feels like a different kind of restaurant and a different kind of experience we, wanted to make sure on the back that we're telling, your story ago let's make sure that people know about how incredibly. Special the lovitz family is this is the base this, area you guys have a whole new restaurant, yeah. Yeah. It's, like. Mind-blowing. You know because you, know the lovitz name might not have been the best name growing up because it was so many kids and you know they might have been a little less fortunate. You know and that's the fire that's inside of me to prove everybody wrong that, you know we own this you know this is us right here I bow down to your, determination and. Your faith and I, don't think that this could, have happened to better people, are more deserving people, don't. Cry cuz you could be cryin so. Proud of you too to. See people, of color succeed. In any business is, very, fulfilling and, what needs to happen is, for, more of us to step, out there on faith and be. Real, CEOs. Of our story, alright, so we have one more surprise. Okay. We, love your, family, story Brad you talked a lot about your being on your grandfather's, farm and remembering, what that felt like and you, talked a lot about your dad and how much he has meant to your entire family and so we, had this, custom. Poster commissioned. We, noticed that you had a picture of grandpa loved it the fun behind the counter sitting. On edge of the chair like he always did yeah, it's good right tell us something because. To. Know that people cared enough about us to, come in to help us is. Amazing. It. Was you know my, grandfather's, dream now. I know I can't let him down you know I I gotta keep pushing now you know this. Country is not that old grandpa. Lovett was a pig farmer his, grandfather, was, a slave, for. Hard-fought, generations, later Mary, and Brad are entrepreneurs. That. Family, journey is nothing. Short of astonishing but.
It Also makes sense the. Food they cook is all, about creating beauty, in the face of adversity and oppression, and their, willingness to share that culture with us has. Truly been an honor there's. No turning, back there's no nothing with. My grandfather, watching over my shoulder then, nothing. Is impossible. Bluff. City outdoors, is a Riverside bait shop with rich history, in town this and lamb they. Treats with loco through the dough but online competition. Has snagged profits, out from under them we just have not been able to get back on track the small business revolution team, is diving, in to help I think, this is our biggest task, and the small business revolution bring new life to it old standby, alright so I have one, more surprise but, I need you to follow me outside. Main, Street, while. Brad and Mary were hustling, to keep their restaurant running they, put marketing, on the back burner visib, deluxe compact, flash Lovett's to learn more about how the deluxe marketing, team built, an online strategy, that's turning Lovitz into a soul food destination.