What are the names of your businesses?
Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, PW Pizza, Moulin Events & Meetings, Grand Petite Market, 21st Street Brewers Bar, Charleville Tavern and soon-to-be Hamilton Chop House.
When was your business established?
Our first restaurant, Eleven Eleven, was founded in 1993.
How did you get into business?
I had always wanted to own my own business but was reluctant to open a restaurant due to the upfront expenses and stigma associated with other restaurant failures. Wendy eventually convinced me to open Eleven Eleven in 1993. Obviously we make a good team because there has been no stopping us ever since.
What is your background? Education, Work Experience?
I received my B.S. in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management from Penn State University. I worked for Walt Disney World straight out of college and then went on to run food and hotel operations for Clipper Cruise Line. Wendy received her B.S. in Marketing and Geography from Missouri State University. She worked on board Clipper Cruise Line, which is where we met. She went on to be Vice President of Marketing for Southside National Bank before we opened Eleven Eleven.
How many employees do you have?
225-250 depending on the season.
What makes your business unique?
All different concepts with a focus on quality ingredients, friendly and professional service in uniquely restored historic spaces.
Can you describe your customers?
Very diverse mix of local, business and travel clientele.
What do you want residents to know about your business?
We are committed to the Lafayette Square Neighborhood and want to do all we can to continue to improve the area.
What do you enjoy most about owning your own business? What makes you excited to “go to work” each day?
Working with all our awesome team members and loyal guests on a daily basis.
What helps you push through the long days?
We love what we do and really have only had a few of what I would consider long days. These usually happen when we first open a business and it is not running as smoothly as we would like. Other than that, we really love working.
For someone considering starting their own business, what advice would you give them?
Get to know the community you are planning to do business in and engage them as much as possible to find out what they would like to see in their community. Be prepared to work very hard and listen to everyone around you for advice on how you are doing or performing. Try not to take things personally.
Lastly, if you had to do it all over again, what change would you make, if any?
Honestly, overall I don’t think I would have changed a thing. We have truly been blessed in so many ways that sometimes we have to pinch ourselves thinking maybe it is all a dream.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy gardening, cooking, woodworking, construction related activities and traveling. Wendy enjoys gardening, baking, photography, interior design and traveling.