Hello Cheesy friends! Hillery, owner of Speakcheesy, here to give you a little update and insight into our cheesy world!
It’s been a pretty cool experience opening up a wholesale kitchen with a ghost (virtual delivery and pick-up only) retail aspect in Atlanta. We love the neighborhood, Candler Park, and are getting settled in and meeting our neighbors while providing cheesy goodness and adding new wholesale partners.
Right now, the ghost kitchen is only open Tuesdays - Thursdays until the close of 2022. Ben and I decided going into this that we would work the kitchen ourselves (with the help of a few cheesy dedicated Romans who travel to assist when needed [We love you and thank you so much!]) into the New Year.
In 2023 we will go full-time (opening W, Th, F, S, S) at the wholesale/ghost kitchen as we close the truck from January through the first week of March. This will give us plenty of time to focus on the daily growth of the kitchen, get to know new ebbs and flows and to train and hire employees that we can count on, which brings me to my next chapter in this story.
Ben and I have applied and been approved by the Secretary of State to start a non-profit training program. Some of you may know this story already, but I began Speakcheesy with just $5,000 in the form of a quick-pay loan from the Makervillage. With this $5,000, I bought my used trailer off Craigslist, tested the business at the first ever taste and toast, and got the truck ready for inspection in 10 days from Thanksgiving in 2015 with health inspection and opening day on December 3rd, 2015. I worked every day just to make $100, so I could pay my bills, pay the loan, and buy more cheese. I would set up at Redmond Hospital from 7 am - 7 pm, then re-prep cheese on the truck before heading downtown to the parking lot at 3rd and Broad (across from the Rome Area History Museum) to be ready to open by 10 pm to operate until 2 am. Later, I had the delight and pleasure of partnering with River Dog when they opened on December 24th and made that Speakcheesy’s home for the first few years of my business.
Over the years of owning a small business, I have watched Speakcheesy change lives, especially my own (in fact, I credit Speakcheesy with saving my life[if you want to know more about why I say this, just ask]) by teaching so many hands-on lessons.
I have always been attracted to and enjoyed teaching and have always wanted to get to a point where I could spread the joy of entrepreneurship and micro-business with others. I plan on adding four different programs to our curriculum over the next three years. It’s my goal that our wholesale space is a place of learning and growth.
I am still writing the business plan(s). Still, I am building out the curriculum on four programs with a three-week intensive, a three-month, a six-month training program, and a year-long training program, each with a different focus and group, and repeat these programs throughout the year as needed. Those focuses are disadvantaged youth, the LGTBQ+ community, folks with disabilities, and ex-convicts.
Each of these programs will need care, consideration, and support built into them and it is my hope to create safe spaces for folks to thrive, to be inspired, and get excited about their own dreams and goals.
Through these programs, I plan to cover all topics of operating and managing a restaurant, food truck, and wholesale space, as well as safe kitchen practices, marketing, catering, branding, and everything in between. I will offer resume building in each aspect of the business so that when participants leave the more extended form programs, they will have a full resume where they have worked each aspect from dishwashing to cooking, to inventory, to marketing, to managing and have found an area of interest to focus on. We will help each participant build and design an editable resume, offer them ServSafe training, study help, and cover testing costs so they can leave the program with a full resume of hands-on experience and a five-year ServSafe certificate in hand so they can qualify for supervisor and management positions right out of the program. All while providing a competitive living wage.
This may seem like a daunting task, and it will definitely be challenging. - especially as we look for, write, and apply for grants to help fund the testing, specializations, and guest experts we wish to provide throughout the program, but this is something I feel called to do.
It gets my heart singing and ignites a fire in my soul. I am passionate about sharing what I’ve learned and helping others, and I see this program as a way to continue to follow my passions and mesh my worlds without always having to be in the driver's seat of a company. Speakcheesy will become a teaching business and continue to grow and flourish, and I’ll have a fantastic team to work with to develop my dream while supporting the dreams of others as well.
This incredibly long post is just to say how excited I am about the future. If you have friends and family who have traversed this world, are teachers, and/or connections you think this new Speakcheesy project will vibe with, please send their contacts my way so that I may meet with them, learn from them, and begin this journey.