There is absolutely no substitute for hard work; I start my day at 4:30 a.m. because that is what it takes for me as an entrepreneur and a mother. Running your own business requires commitment and commitment requires work and this is even more so the case in the very competitive restaurant and real estate industries.Â Another important ingredient in the restaurant business, in particular, is customer service. People want to go places where they feel valued and connected, especially those living in urban areas. They need to be able to trust you.
In real estate it is similar, we are not simply developing buildings to rent to people, rather, we are transforming communities and creating properties that are respectful of the people who will live there and the communities where they are being developed.
When it comes to your work, it seems like you do most of your business locally. Is this by design and do you plan on expanding or going a further distance than what you are used to?
Yes, I choose to do business locally because these are my communities, and I feel an obligation to be a part of the solution to foster positive change. I am the product of a public high school in Newark, and I lived in Irvington. I think it is the responsibility of those of us who are doing well to pull others along with us.
Developing properties and operating restaurants locally is also an important part of my business model because I believe to be successful one must understand the dynamics of the local market, which requires an understanding of the culture and the ability to see economic opportunities where others have missed them. I have on-the-ground, long term knowledge of the areas where I am operating. That requires being local.
Although it seems like you do enough, do you have any other plans or anything in the works that you’d care to discuss?
My goal is to expand my IHOP ownership and to continue to grow my real estate development business. I am currently developing a 6.5-acre site in Irvington, which will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of this urban center. My goal is to continue to have my projects revitalize communities by providing residents with access to jobs and high-quality affordable housing.
In the long term, I am looking to expand my business interests globally with an emphasis on West Africa, I would love to develop projects and open an IHOP in my native country of Liberia.