Gregory King grew up working in his parents’ restaurants, so starting his own Mobile Restaurant business was a natural move. Combining his MBA and years of experience in corporate America with his love of cooking, King opened Postcards Central American Soul Food, a unique food truck that fuses soul food and Central American cuisine, prepared with a healthy twist and served in portable wraps and bowls. King’s relationship with the Small Business Development Center hosted by Pacific Coast Regional Corporation was instrumental in developing his idea and launching his business.
SBDC Business Advisors Martha Castro, Sahar Andrade and Harold C. Hart-Nibbrig helped King fine-tune his business plan, develop a marketing plan with a focus onsocial media, obtain the necessarypermits and licenses, and launch his business.
Do What you Love
King first visited the SBDC in 2012 because he was planning to buy a business service franchise. However, as he worked with Castro on the business plan, he realized that wasn’t the path he wanted to take. “I thought business services made sense for me because I’d been working in the biz arena so long, but I had a passion for food,” he says. “I’ve cooked all my life, so I decided to step out and try something different.”
The SBDC helped keep King on track by scheduling bi-monthly check-ins where he had to reach key milestones, including developing a business plan, a marketing plan and financial plans.
Social media is key in this business,” says King, who credits Castro and Andrade with helping hone his social media and marketing outreach. “I started with Facebook and Twitter; they showed me how to use Instagram and Pinterest. They also helped me coordinate all my social media activity so I can post in one location and it goes to all my social media accounts.”
Postcards Central American Soul Food hit the road in April 2013. The truck, which also gives out postcards and sells hand-painted T-shirts featuring the work of local artists, is a regular presence at three Los Angeles-area farmers’ markets and books multiple events every week. Gradually building a strong following, Postcards has been featured on the Food Network, Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper and other media. The company now has two employees, and sales are growing by 10 to 12 percent each month.
King plans to expand the business by purchasing a second vehicle and opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. He also hopes to franchise Postcards as soon as feasible, and is currently seeking investors and plans to work with the PCR SBDC toward that goal.
“The SBDC connected me with so many resources I didn’t have initially, I’ve been marketing for a large portion of my life, but there are always roadblocks that come up when you’re starting a business, and it’s good to have access to experts who can get you over those hurdles and help you think outside the box.”-Gregory King, Owner, Postcards Central American Soul Food