Grant’s Kitchen & Grill in Gallatin, TN
Guest: Caroline Harrelson
Topics: Restaurant industry, recruiting
Chris Ressa 0:02
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management
Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I am joined by Caroline Harrelson. Caroline is a retail recruitment consultant specialist for the retail coach. I’m excited for her to share her story today, what the retail coach does, and a specific story about a restaurant that she helps recruit to a certain town. Caroline, welcome to the show.
Caroline Harrelson 0:47
Yeah, thanks, Chris. I’m glad to be here. I’ve got some coffee and I’m, I’m ready to get started.
Excellent. So Caroline, tell the audience a little bit more about you and who you are.
Yeah, sure. Thanks. So, Carolyn Harrelson. I’m a retail recruitment specialist with a company called the retail couch. We work to bring retail to communities across the United States. My boss, Kelly Cofer started this company over 20 years ago, he had a career before he started the retail coach, as a site selector for different retailers work to bring retail to communities across the US and then realized, after doing that, you know, there’s really a missing piece that the communities are missing, where they could be actively speaking to these retailers, and they could be actively promoting their markets. And when they were they weren’t doing it in the right way. So Kelly started the retail coach. And that’s what we do. We work on annual contracts with communities across the US to bring retail to their markets, we don’t just work with communities, sometimes we’ll work with a certain developer or development, or even starting to work with some airports. We do a lot of data work for communities, even if they can’t do the full retail recruitment piece. But we have worked in over 50, excuse me in 40 states, we have offices in Tupelo, Mississippi. And in office in Austin, Texas, we have clients all over the US. We got a lot of California clients, a lot of Texas clients. We’re all around Chicago right now up to Washington State down to Florida,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, we are everywhere. I feel like I’ve been with the retail couch for about five years now. And I work mainly with the retailers. And so whenever we have a new client, that that my team starts to work with, then I start to promote that community to the retailers and and I call them I text them I do whatever it takes to let the retailer know that this is a market that they should really start to pick it to penetrate and look at.
I do really whatever I can do to to try to get them to do a deal and one of our and one of our cities.
And then on a personal side, I stay busy when I’m not with doing the retail couch work. My husband and I have a blended family. We’re both divorced and remarried, we have five kids together that live with us the majority of the time, and they play all the sports and do all the things. So it’s a busy season in my life right now. But it’s a lot of fun. Terrific unpacking that a little bit. So everyone understands your clients are municipalities across the country. So the actual towns themselves and cities themselves. That’s what your clients are. That’s who our clients are, we are hired on an annual contract. And you know, when we first start the contract, we don’t just start talking to retailers, right, right off the bat, we do a lot of research on the market. boots on the ground, we go visit the market, we see what the what the areas are where you know, where’s the best area for retail, obviously, if there’s a best use for a property that’s not you know, if it’s a carwash and it could should really be a QSR, then we kind of dive into that and see what we can do and talk to that property owner. We do a lot a lot, a lot of data work before we even start the retail recruitment piece of the project. So we do a leakage gap analysis, we use place or AI and then a few other proprietary things to determine what their trade market is. And so we’ll do a heat map based on cell phone analysis. As you know, with our cell phones, it shows your home address. And so we can see at their Walmart or at their Macy’s or at their dollar general or Tractor Supply or whatever the retail is in the market. We can see how many people are visiting there, whether it’s weekly, bi monthly, annually, and we can see where those people are coming from. And so then we really start to draw the trade area that tells a different story about the market, then the community itself is telling. Because if they’re just going and talking to a retailer and saying hey, we’ve got a population of 7000, we really think you should come to our market. Well, that’s really not going to speak to a lot of retailers, especially if they’re in a big MSA. Right. We have a lot of a lot of clients in the DFW area. Not necessarily Dallas or Fort Worth but clients right
outside of there, and so they don’t need to go tell that their population is 7000. They need to go say that their trade areas 230,000, or whatever it may be, because that’s really going to let the retailer know who’s in their market every day who’s driving through Who’s stopping at this gas station, Who’s stopping at that Dunkin Donuts? And what their actual consumer base might be? Great insights there. I often wonder how open minded are the municipalities open minded as an Well, I will tell you that one thing that we always try to do when we work with a municipality is set the expectations.
When we do these linkage gaps, we look at each different retail category or sector to see what’s missing. And we’re very realistic. I mean, if it’s a smaller market, we’re not going to say, hey, we’re gonna go get an Apple store for you, right, even though they may request it. Everyone wants to target just not going to happen. We try to set expectations and we let our clients know if they are a Windies market or if they’re Chipotle market. Right. And so on that note, we really try to to have communication with them. Let them know what our expectations are before we start working with them. Totally, it totally does. Okay. Helpful. Really interesting business. Last question. Are most of the municipalities finding you? Are you going to that question, I would say most of them is municipalities actually do find us. We go to a lot of conferences where these municipalities are, we go to the retail lives, we get to ICSC, we’re also going to a lot of their state Municipal League conferences. Our company actually hosts some economic development courses, that a lot of cities in their sin their leaders to, and so they find us in different ways. Maybe they hear about us, maybe it’s a referral from someone, maybe they’ve seen us at a conference, and then they reach out to us and they ask for more information, you actually wouldn’t know. But retail recruitment is becoming a big thing for a lot of cities, cities realize that they’ve got an economic developer, Director of Economic Development, maybe, and they’ve got all these city leaders, but the guy that’s focusing or the the lady that’s focusing on the economic development is only focusing on the industry side. And that industry side is taking so much of their time that they really don’t have the experience or the contacts to talk to retailers. And that’s where we come in, because instead of paying a full time position, and benefits for someone to only focus on retail, then they can get an annual contract with us. And we’ve got the contacts. And so I’m talking to these retailers every single day. And while I’m having that conversation with a retailer about XYZ community, then I can say, Oh, you’re not growing there. But you are growing outside of Chicago. Well, let me talk to you about our Chicago communities now that are shocked Chicago clients, because I would love to see you in one of those. And so since we’re having these conversations every day, we can naturally, um, you know, just just add these, add these others and talk to them about the clients that we’re representing. So a lot of municipalities are starting to put out RFPs looking for someone to do the missing component, and it’s the retail piece, sometimes it’s just the data work. And they need the package that will provide so that they can send out the information themselves, or so that if they go to retail live or to ask in SCSC event, then they’ve got something to actually hand the person physically or to email them as a follow up saying, Hey, here’s some information about our community.
If they can’t do the full retail recruitment piece, but a lot of times, they do want us most of the time, they do want us to do the full retail recruitment piece. And so they are finding us as well, like I said, our conference schedule stays busy. And that is one of the main ways that we stay in touch with these retailers. And then I just kind of get those facetimes with the retailers because it’s one thing for a city or municipality to just kind of cold call right to send an email and say, Hey, I live in small town, Texas, and I really want you to come to my market because retailers, their inboxes are filling up the site selectors, the brokers, their inboxes are filling up with these kinds of cold calls all day long. But if I meet them at a conference, and I show them kind of our list of the clients that we’re working with, and I show them the data that we can provide them when my name comes across, I like to text a lot, because I’m just like a lot of other people don’t call me and leave a voicemail. I’m not going to listen to the voicemail, shoot me a text. And so I’ll text them after after I made them. I’ll send them an email, whatever it is, but then when they see my name or some of my coworkers names come across their screen, then they know that we’ve already vetted it and then it’s a really good opportunity for them to look into what is
your ideal client from the municipality perspective?
Hmm, good question.
I just thought of it this wasn’t a prepared remarks. So
um, you know Who our ideal client is just a client who comes to us with reasonable expectations, who wants open lines of communication, our company does a really good job of communicating communicating with our clients, we’ve got a project management system where we put in, if we’ve had a conversation with a retailer, we put in the date that we talked to them what their feedback was, and then what our next steps are. And so an ideal client is going to look at that project management, and then have the regular calls with us we try to do bi weekly calls some clients, we do weekly, some call outs, we do monthly, it just depends on what their preference is. But an ideal client is one that is going to be just opening communication with us reasonable and expectations. But then one other thing that we realize a lot when we work with clients, and this is something that I would love to talk to you about, or have you talked to our clients about is expectations and how long it takes to get a deal done.
I wish it was faster recently
introduced a broker of our retailer that we would love to see in one of our client communities, to the leasing agent of a new new development. And I think that was about two weeks ago, right? I connected the two and then we like to pass those conversations off. We do not ask anything in return. From the brokers from the site selectors, we do not want a fee from them or anything, we are paid by the city. And our goal is to get the retail and however we can. So a lot of times once we introduce them, then we let the broker brokers, whoever’s whoever’s making the deal, we let them kind of run with it. And then we’ll just follow up for updates and say, How’s it going? Is there anything we can provide? Do you need anything from us, but from an ideal client perspective, it would probably be someone that understands that two weeks after I introduced those brokers, they’re not going to call me and say, do you know if an LOI has been submitted yet, because that is our biggest our biggest thing I think, is just explaining to the clients how long it takes to get a deal done. But on that note, large or small, we don’t have a preference. We love our bread and butter is small. Because we love to work with those communities where we can actually bring something they’ve truly never had to the market. But then personally, I love the larger markets too, because I get kind of excited talking to Nordstrom Rack or to Top Golf. So you know, size wise, ideal client, we’ve done it all.
Excellent. Okay. Now let’s get to know Carolina a little better. Okay, I have three questions for you. Are you ready?
Let me take a sip of coffee and I think I am. Okay, Carolina.
When is the last time you tried something for the first time?
Okay. I thought you’re gonna ask me this. This question kind of makes me feel badly about myself. Because I’m thinking, When is the last time that I tried something for the first time and maybe I should go sign up for like skydiving or something. I will say during I mean, I realized that, you know, COVID is not over. But during the initial quarantines and things probably the first six months of quarantine, my family and I did do a kind of hate to say aloud, we were very safe. But we did do a good bit of traveling. My kids say that they think that we traveled more as a family during COVID, so to speak. Then not we we took a weekend trip to Nashville and got a new miniature Goldendoodle. He’s super cute. He’s a year old. He’s the favorite of the family. My husband and I took the kids to Disney World. We were super safe. We went to the beach a couple times. So we did do some fun things during COVID. But one thing that I did for the first time was um, last fall, my husband and I took a trip to Asheville, North Carolina for a really long weekend. And the first one or two nights, we camped on top of the mountain and I think maybe growing up like I’d camped in the backyard with my brothers probably did not stay out there the whole night. I think I even had like a blanket on top of our trampoline or something. It was not true camping. We did the whole like backpacks, like take souls. I’m glad he knew how to start a fire because I didn’t. There was not a bathroom. You know this. This was new for me. But it was on top of I can’t remember the miles and it was like Bald Mountain or something outside of Asheville. And it was 360 degree panoramic views. So Sun Sunrise was on one side of your tent sunset was on the other. It was beautiful. And it was so much fun. And I’m so glad that I did it. Now I can say I’ve done it. And let me tell you my husband was really smart and the way that he talked me into it, because after that, we drove into Asheville, and spent two nights it was not a penthouse, but we spent two nights on the floor like in a room on the penthouse floor. With like floor to ceiling floor like beautiful windows nicest hotel I’ve stayed in. So the whole time I was camping, I was thinking, but in two days, I get to take the best shower. That was, that was a fun fun trip. And if I camp again, I hope that I’ll always get to drive straight to the nicest hotel in the next town.
Amazing what a good first time story. It was. Question two. Okay, what is one thing most people agree with, but you do not.
Okay. This comes up every day in my family. They are so used to this from me, but still, every day they read me about it a little bit. Um, I do not think that Breakfast isn’t like the meal should be limited to breakfast foods. So as you’re not like doughnuts, I don’t like cereal. I don’t like pastries. I’ll eat like eggs and stuff occasionally. But 95% of the time for breakfast. I fix a salad. Or I eat leftovers from last night’s dinner.
Salad for breakfast. That is one thing most people I would say don’t agree with wow,
I slept in the other day and my kids are like mom sleeping in let’s do something nice for instead they bought me a cup of coffee and a salad and bed like they know my love language.
That is that is something new. Wow. All right. Never had that one before. Have you? No, never. I don’t know that. I’ve had salad for breakfast, but I like it. Okay. Last question. Okay, what is one skill you don’t possess? But wish you did?
Okay, here’s something else that’s been on my mind recently. It’s not as bad in my professional life in my professional life. I love being asked to go do all the extra things. Go outside of my comfort zone, you know, can you make this meeting? Can you go visit this client? Whatever it is? Yes, yes, yes. All the way. In my personal life, I have a problem saying no. So recently, here’s an example. And this is why this is on my mind. Recently, I got an email from one of my kids schools like the PTA president. And she was like, we noticed that you didn’t sign up this year, to be in charge of the carpool signs for the whole school that get passed out the first two weeks of school and you’ve done it the last three or four years. And and I purposely didn’t do it like this year, I was like, Nope, I’m over committed. I’m not gonna I’m not gonna sign up to chair anything. I’m gonna let things go. But when you get that phone call, it’s like, oh, yeah, I totally missed that. Sign up. Genius. I’m so sorry. I’ll do it. And then she said, Oh, you know, usually we’ve given you a co chair. But don’t you just like to do it by yourself? And I was like, yes, it’s one. And then like, the other day, we were at, we were at a parent meeting, three of our kids play on travel soccer teams, and we were at a parent meeting for one of the the teams and the coach said, okay, you know, we’ve got the administrative people that sign us up for all the, for all the tournaments and collect the fees and everything. And they said, We just need a team mom to schedule like team dinners, and let everybody know what hotels we may stay at. My husband literally, like put his hand over mine and said, Do not raise your hand. Do not raise your hand. Do not raise your hand. So I’m working on it. But the ability to say no, in my personal life is it’s a skill.
That is a skill. Great answer.
I do not possess it. Great answer.
Okay, that was great. We call that clear the air. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that we get to know you a little bit more. Carolyn, just a couple minutes because I want to make sure we get to the story about Grant’s kitchen. In a post pandemic world. How are municipalities looking at retail? Now? Let me let me give you some context. Why ask the question, because from a retailer and a developer perspective, a lot has changed. And so that’s requiring some evolution. And I’m curious to see your take on how municipalities are thinking about that.
You know, this is a this is a conversation that we have with our clients regularly now. And our clients are really realizing, obviously the impact that COVID had on their budgets, I mean, loss of sales, tax loss of tourism dollars, because people weren’t traveling, you know, for the concerts that they used to have to their towns and everything like they used to. And so our municipalities are really, with our encouragement, starting to think outside of the box. They’re starting to ask for different retailers that they wouldn’t have normally asked for. We’re having conversations with them about maybe changing their parking guidelines. We’re having conversations we have one client who in their city zoning they did not allow a drive through speaker box. And and you just can’t do that today. Right. And so we worked with them to get that changed because right now with all of the restaurant On so they, they really are realizing that they need a pickup window and or a drive thru, and a post COVID world, right. And so municipalities are really being more creative and starting to adapt more to the retailer’s needs were pre COVID. It was, well, if that if that retailer wants to be here, they’re going to have to figure out, you know how to abide by our zoning or our restrictions. And now, I think municipalities are really realizing that that is going to take two to tango, and they’re going to have to come to the table and talk about how to make it work for these retailers. They’re also realizing that there is a need for recruitment now. And that, you know, retailers had their growth strategy, pre COVID. But those growth strategies were swiped during COVID. And maybe they’re looking at different markets or smaller markets now, or if they were going to do 50 stores in 2022. Now, they’re only able to do 25 stores in 2022, because that had to take away from their growth capital, when all their stores were shut down. And so retailers or excuse me, municipalities are realizing that the retailers are, are having to are having to change their plans. And so they’re having to adjust their expat expectations and really realize that we’ve got to go out and recruit them. Because if their growth strategy was cut in half, we want our clients to be on that list that doesn’t get cut, right. And so I think that they’re realizing that retail has changed as as we all are,
that’s good to hear. Because I think what that realization comes innovation comes change that probably can help a lot of municipalities. That’s, that’s excellent to hear. Yeah, one
more thing on that now, one thing that we do is we do a downtown component with our company. And so we come in, and we will talk to the downtown merchants. And we do things like encouraging them to have a social media presence, right? encouraging them to maybe do some, there’s a there’s a company like comment sold, where you can comment and sold and then they’ll ship it to your or you can pick it up. I know there are several companies like that, but we’re really trying to tell the local communities look, we’re not bringing in retailers that are going to compete with you. If we bring in a big box, it’s not necessarily going to put you out of business, it’s going to bring more consumers to your market with more money in their pockets. And then they still want to see the regional retailers. So you do everything that you can, where if the bigger box comes into your market, or the medium box, or whatever it is, if those consumers are starting to come into your market, because that store is there now, then put yourself out on social media so that they know that, hey, you’re in this market, too. And they want to make sure they stopped by before they leave. And so we’re really trying to do a downtown component with a lot of our clients now, so that they are taking advantage of just all the ways that retail changed during COVID.
I love that rising tide raises all boats. So I love that exactly. I don’t know if it’s changed since in a post COVID world. But what is the biggest challenge that you all face in your process with this? Because it’s an interesting thing, right? That really the two people that really are in the weeds of a store coming to a market are the retailer and the person who owns that land, the developer, right? And you guys are there to try to recruit and facilitate but like you said, you pass it off. And so I’m just curious, what do you find is the biggest challenge and has that changed in a post COVID? World?
Yeah. So okay, so two questions there. The biggest challenge is patients sometimes, you know, a lot of times we’ll call the retailer, call the broker, whoever it is, and, and let them know that that we think this is a really great community, and why I think that I can sell a lot of our markets really well, hopefully all of our markets really well. And I talked to a retailer. And so I sell it to them. And then they’ll introduce me to their broker or their introduce the retailer to their broker, whatever it is. We connect them and then just having the patience to let them work that out. Sometimes the ball gets dropped between them. Recently, I was talking to a retailer who said we really want to be on that site. We’ve been trying to get that site for two years now. Can you talk to the city? See if somebody different owns it? What can we do to get there, right? I called the leasing agent for that site. And he said that retailers broker texted me once two years ago, he has not tried to be on this site. And he said, I think what that broker he just he represents too many retailers in the market, that he kind of let the ball drop for this one. And so I feel like that’s one benefit of working with us. But a lot of times patients you know, it just the time that it takes to get a deal done is a challenge for us. And then just kind of holding off and letting them work those details out and then seeing what what we can do to help we really changed the way that we do business post COVID. So during COVID year during the shutdown, there was this depressing point where emails that I was sending to retailers were all getting returned as, as you probably sell to, with your leasing, saying I’ve been furloughed, I’ll contact you when I’m back in the office, right. And so many of our emails were returned like that. And so what we started to do number one for our client communities, we really pivoted, and we’d always provided this data for them. But we started to brat provide weekly data showing where in their markets the foot traffic was, and so week to week to week, they could see the grocery stores, okay, up 300% over this time last year, right, that the shopping center that didn’t have any grocery store, or Lowe’s or Home Improvement or anything that was still open was down, but they could see that their sales tax was still going to be up maybe 300%, from this large box, or grocery or whatever. And it gave them a better idea of what their budgets were going to be COVID changed our business, also, because zoom meetings have become the new norm. And so we now meet with retailers on a regular basis, we don’t wait until retail lab, we don’t wait until we’re in the same city where we know that they are. We go ahead and we do virtual market tours with a lot of our clients on Zoom calls. And so they’re saying, Hey, I can’t I can’t travel, I’m going to do a Western tour. I’m probably in three to four months, but I’d love to see some sites, then we go ahead and we send them the sites and an email, but then we’ll virtually get on and I’ll share my screen. And we’ll walk through the community. And I’m like, Hey, let’s go over to this western side of town. This is where the high school is, this is where there are at least 600 employees in this industry. This is where your daytime population is I think it would be a great place for a sandwich shop or whatever it is, you know, and so we’re able to virtually tour the market now, where we didn’t do that as much prior to COVID. And recently, my email, I feel like has started to blow up more with emails that I sent to brokers during COVID. Because they’re looking, you know, they just had these growth strategy meetings. And then they go and they search their email, and they’re like, oh, gosh, that girl sent me an email about that market six months ago, and that wasn’t even on our radar. But I just got told to look into it. Let me contact her back. So I’m getting I’m getting responses to emails now from six months ago, I even got, I’m not afraid to contact anybody any way that I can. I contacted a regional retailer through a Facebook message a year ago, apparently. And I got a response just last week, like hey, is a year too late to respond because we would like to consider that market. And so I think, post COVID We’re really starting to see retail pickup, our municipalities are starting to see it and we are getting super excited.
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Okay, I’m mindful of time, I’m mindful of your time, I want to take us to the other story that we have, which is about a store that you helped recruit to a market grants kitchen wares, grants kitchen
grants kitchen originally, their first location is outside of Jackson, Mississippi. I live in Mississippi, I work in our Mississippi office, I did not even know about Grant’s kitchen, and I’ll tell you how I got to know about it. But it’s originally in Jackson, Mississippi. It’s actually in Flowood, which is right outside of Jackson. And we got grants kitchen to Nashville, Tennessee. And I want to tell you how that happened. Let’s do it. I chose the story. You asked me for a unique retailer that was placed and I chose to this because my husband and I had taken our kids to an overnight camp for a week. And we were we were picking them back up and it was outside of Jackson, Mississippi. And so we passed this restaurant called Grant’s kitchen, on our way back to Jackson. And I looked at it and I was like, here’s Grant’s kitchen, and I told my husband this story and he said How was You never told us that before. Like that’s really cool. So this was on my mind. I’m in our business we work with Trader Joe’s we work with sprouts we work with, you know, Nordstrom Rack, we work with Dollar General Dick’s Sporting Goods, Wendy’s, you name it, we work with all of your national big brands, right? I’m emailing them. I know, who you know, represents them regionally. Those are the ones that we talk to at conferences, and we land those, so to speak for our clients every day. And those are huge wins, obviously, because those bring sales tax dollars, they bring more sick consumers to the market, property taxes. I mean, the list goes on and on. Super excited. Whenever we land a national chain, our clients are excited. Yeah, but I love, love, love when our clients ask us to recruit something regional, or when they asked us to like go look into these like one off markets close to them, and see if we may be able to get from those because those are such a challenge for me. And they’re different from the every day. Let me email cost plus world market again, right? So I like to do those digging, that digging. So I went back and looked at my notes. And in 2018, we had a client in Mississippi, we actually don’t have many clients in Mississippi, even though that’s where I am. They’re all over the US. But we had a client in a small town in Mississippi. Our contact was the mayor. And he called me and he said, I just ate at this restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi, and I want you to get that restaurant to locate in my town. Like okay, what’s it called give me more information. It’s called Grant’s kitchen. Okay, great. I did some investigating. It’s actually employed right outside of Jackson. Track down the owner. And by tracking down I just call keep calling the manager until the manager tells me that the owner is in. And I speak with the owner. And I just said, you know, I told him I told him what I was calling about. Grants kitchen is a really unique concept. They have it’s a casual sit down restaurant, but they have southern comfort food. Now it’s not like you can get like fried hamburger steak and gravy and all the like Southern things that you think of that probably aren’t so healthy. But he also has this culinary arts background. And so he has like roasted vegetables, roasted chicken, you can also get some really really healthy options. He’s got homemade mac and cheese for kids. And his his concept is that instead of on a busy family night, when you’ve had parent meetings at school, or kids soccer games, or baseball or whatever you’re coming and going from, if your only option is like fast food or Mexican, you’re really not feeling good about what you’re you’re feeding your kids those nights, right? So he wanted a family meal in a nicer like casual sit down atmosphere, or the kicker was and this was pre COVID He had to have a drive thru, because he wanted families to be able to drive through and pick up a roasted chicken, a side of steamed broccoli, green beans, Mexican cornbread, and homemade mac and cheese for their kids and then go home and feel like they’d actually like parented that day, right. And so that was the feel of this restaurant. Now if you go in, he also serves wine and beer, and it’s really good food. So this is what small town Mississippi asked me to get for them. So I talked to the owner grant with grants kitchen, shockingly. And he said, you know, number one, he said I would love to grow, I would absolutely love to grow. He said I would even love to franchise because this is such a unique concept. When he said that, you know, his kind of his capital was tied up in some other investments at the moment. And so we couldn’t do another restaurant right then himself, you know, unless he had a partner. And then number two, he just wasn’t really excited about this small town in Mississippi. And so, you know, nice to meet you. Congrats on your restaurant. It sounds really cool. Thanks for the information. I’ll take that back to my client and let them know, you know, I’d love to come in and eat sometime when I’m in the area. Okay, so end of that conversation. Well, a couple days later, I’m on the phone with another client. And when we work with a municipality, we want to promote every site that they’ve got, we have no vested interest in any single site. If a retailer turns down one site, we’re gonna put them onto another one, right. And so a lot of times when we’re working with municipalities, they’re going to put us in touch with their developers who are doing the next big strip center or whatever it is and say, Hey, work with them work for them, since you’re working with us to help them lease out these properties too. So I’m on a call with an other clients Gallatin, Tennessee, which is 30 miles northwest of Nashville, growing suburb of Nashville. And a developer is on that phone call. He’s kind of introducing us to a strip center that he’s putting in. Right off the interstate perfect location. He’s got like a Mexican restaurant, signed a fitness center. A couple other things, and he is determined that he wants another restaurant, he doesn’t want fast food. He thinks he wants a casual sit down. It’s an endcap. So it can have a drive thru. And he wants something unique. Well, we’re on this call, and I keep throwing out like, Look, I’ve talked, I’ve spoken with Qdoba and Chipotle, and he’s like, Yeah, I can’t do that because of the Mexican. Okay, how about like Jimmy, John’s, you know, I’m just throwing out all these different restaurant chains. And he said, you know, none of those really excite me. And he said, I could even become the franchisee if I needed to. He said, I’ve got the capital to invest in, and whatever it is, but I want it to be something that I love. And that’s unique. But also don’t have a restaurant background. So keep that in mind. And so this developer is, I mean, it’s a second job for him. He’s actually in the medical field. And so no restaurant experience whatsoever. And I’m just sitting there racking my brain like, Who else have I not told this guy that would be interested in the Nashville market that we could get to fill this in cap space. And then finally, unlike Ding, ding ding Grant’s kitchen in Jackson, Mississippi, thinks he’s got such a cool concept that he could franchise it one day. And it actually is a cool concept. Like it sounded like a place where if it were in my town, I would take my family, they are our drive thru on a
busy night. I’m looking at the menu. He had me a pecan pie. So and I’m looking at some of the pictures now.
Exactly. And so I just I bring it up to this developer and he was like, you know, that sounds really cool. I’d like to talk to him. And so in July of 2018, I, like I went back to grant I called him I said, What are your square footage requirements? What would you need? Would you be interested in Nashville? Oh, yeah, I’d love Nashville, you know, Nashville, Nashville could really take us places. And so I put them in touch. And they worked out a deal. And in June 2020, so it started July 2018. Things got a little backed up because of COVID. Obviously, because this would have been after the first shutdown in June 2020. Grant’s kitchen opened in the Nashville Tennessee area in Gallatin. They are thriving today. They are jointly looking and obviously the developer was was his investor and is now as his partner. They are jointly looking into doing more locations in Nashville together. And then grant wants to do besides that, along the Gulf Coast, and possibly more in the southeast as well.
Wow. So much there. What a great story. Not only did you find a town and a piece of real estate for grant, you found him an investor. What a cool story to tell that is really, really unique.
And now can you gift card out of the things right,
you should get a gift card and now these two are partners and looking to do more together. All because of what you did. I looked at the location in Gallatin, Tennessee looks really cool. The food books so savory and delicious. And what a cool story grants kitchen. I’m glad we get to highlight them. And when I’m in Nashville, or Jackson, Mississippi, I have to check it out and check them out. For sure. Okay, thank you for sharing. Let’s go to the final part of the show. I call this retail wisdom. I’ve got three questions for you. Are you ready?
I’m ready. I can talk retail all day.
I love it. Okay, me too. And I do talk retail all day. So Okay. Same what extinct retailer Do you wish would come back from the dead?
I’m gonna go with two here because my first is not extinct. They went through bankruptcy. They closed a lot of locations and they closed a location. In my suburban rural area where I live. I’m usually not like a big chain restaurant person. But Ruby Tuesday has the best salad bar. And we know a love salad right? He has the best salad bar they closed their location in Starkville and that is a place where I could take my entire family and they would love the salad bar. So Ruby Tuesday closed a lot of locations. They went through bankruptcy they say they’re gonna come out of it better than ever, and I hope that they reopen a lot of the locations that they closed but since that is not entirely extinct. I’m also going to say when I was growing up, there was a company called limited to T I’m sure that was where like when you were too old for like the so called baby clothes that your mom made you where you could get a limited to and find things that were still like, like cute but appropriate. And now that I have three young girls who think that they are teenagers, but they most certainly are not. I wish that limited two was still around because I wish that there I could like there was a place that I could take them that did not sell crop tops.
Understood. Understood. Question two, what is the last item over $20 You bought in a store?
Oh, gosh. Is my husband gonna have a link to this? Just kidding. So yesterday, I went in Lululemon. And that should probably say it all there because I don’t think that you can walk out of Lululemon and without like, I don’t think they sell anything under $20. But I recently started playing tennis again. And I told myself, if I stuck with it for four weeks, then I could get like a new little like Lululemon skort. And so I have tennis tonight. And I have a new Lululemon score
to wear. Incredible. That’s great. I won’t send them the link. Thanks. Last question, Caroline. If you and I were shopping at Target, and I lost you, would I would I find you in?
Okay, here’s what you need to know, my closest target is over an hour away. Oh, my. Yeah, as well, as was Lululemon. I got to get it. I got to run out of town yesterday for a few hours. But you know, we live in an area where you go out of town to go shopping, or to do to do that major kind of shopping. And so when I go out of town, and I stop at Target, I may go in for only one thing. Like right now, it’s the school uniform section, because some of their like, bottoms are approved for our kids. So recently, I went for school uniforms, but then I’m going to hit every single aisle, and it’s not going to be in any specific order, like in my brain. It’s, oh, I’m out of coffee. But oh, we like their athletic shorts. But oh, let me go look at their home decor. And then Oh, I wonder if they’ve got anything like decoration wise for this upcoming holiday. So I’m all over the place, you’re not going to be able to find me. So your best bet is go to the front of the store. Because at the front of the store. That is usually where number one the wine section is. And I’m going to make a run through there before I check out. And then after I check out I’m gonna go get a coffee at Starbucks for driving back home. So looking at one or looking Starbucks, you’re gonna find me Don’t try to find me on an aisle because I’m totally unpredictable.
Unpredictable. We’ll end on that. Caroline, thank you so much. You have been excellent. This was a great story. I love what you all are doing. Keep up the good work bringing those retailers to communities.
It was fun to talk to you and I love your podcast. Keep it up.
Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at CLC mgmt.com. This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode