Black Woman Owned Businesses is one of the target audiences that Vision Street Research works with. In addition to providing our core services of Project Management, Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Workforce Development Training and Event Marketing for Black Owned Businesses, we also periodically highlight newly launched black businesses to increase their visibility. Today we are excited to introduce you to Vernice Gaston, a Virginia Native who has traveled the world and tasted cuisines along the way. Venice is a soft spoken, culinary genius currently living in Georgia who launched her food truck Affordable Gourmet on February 3, 2020. She credits her late Godmother for mentoring and supporting her career path in culinary arts and entrepreneurship. We had a great morning chat with Vernice this week where we learned about why she started Affordable Gourmet, what sparked her interests in culinary arts, what makes her food unique and her business expansion plans for the future. Read on to learn more about Vernice and her food truck business.
1. What inspired you to start your business? We were living in Bahrain at the time and always wanted to open a restaurant or sports bar. As we were researching different businesses, my husband Kendall started looking into Food Trucks. From there the idea just took off. We decided that we wanted to share with the local Georgia area the various cuisines that we were fortunate enough to experience during our travels while he was in the military. First, we wanted a brick and mortar, but we felt that was such a permanent position, and how could we reach more people with our products. What better way to offer those items, than from a food truck? This way we are bringing Globally Inspired Street Food to the consumer wherever they may be located.
2. What got you interested in cooking/culinary arts? In 12th grade, I took a Catering Class, and the teacher Ms. Applewhite started talking to me about Culinary Arts School; she told me I should look into it. So, I did and spoke with my godmother who at the time was the Assistant Director of Dining Services at the University of Richmond, plus she had been in the food service industry for years. She told me she thought it would be a good choice. Before talking to both ladies, I was set to go to American University in D.C.
3. What is a mantra/quote you live by? The quote I have lived by for years has been “Everything happens for a reason” The newest quote that I live by now is “It’s ok to say NO without explaining yourself.” You don’t have to explain your “YES”, why should you have to explain your NO. The No is about capacity as a small business to take on jobs. Also it was about setting boundaries for myself, I was burning myself out trying to please everyone. It took a mental and physical toll on me.
4. How did you come up with the name Affordable Gourmet? While my husband, Kendall, was stationed in Bahrain in the Navy, I did catering. I used to have a company called Runaway Catering, someone stole the name. Kendall told me my food is affordable, so after extensive research; I selected the name Affordable Gourmet.
5. What are some of your current best sellers? Mid-East Jerk Chicken Flatbread and Philly Cheesesteak
6. Where do you see your business 5 years from now? Five years from now, I plan on having a brick-and-mortar! The food truck was always meant to be temporary, or a way to get my foot in the door. It has been a great starting point and I love being able to get out and meet new people and work with my husband, Kendall, every day. I think that it’s time for a new venture and concept. I am looking into locations around Henry County and in the Thomaston area.
7. If you could share a meal with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
I would share a meal with my Godmother. She passed away suddenly last year, and I remember the last conversation I had with her on the phone. She was heading to my God-Sister Kerrie’s father’s funeral, and I had called to check on her. Her last words to me were “Oh this Old Lady is alright.” See, that was my nickname for her. I was the only one allowed to call her “Old Lady”, she was more than my godmother, she was my mentor. So, I think a meal with her would be great. I would just want to thank her for always being there for me. Thank her for just being her and loving me as one of her own.
8. What does Legacy and Black generational wealth mean to you and your family? My kids won’t have to struggle. I feel like we are building something for their future. We are building those work skills. They are watching us and they can see that hard work and dedication they can do anything. They come out to the trailer to help. We want them to say “my dad and mom did this for us” , giving them a head start as black women!
9. How is being a Black owned business in Spaulding county? We have been accepted on all fronts. Our unique selling point is the special menu. We have been a member of the Griffin-Spalding Chamber of Commerce for two years. Affordable Gourmet is actually the first and only legal food truck in Griffin. The chamber helped market the business a week after we signed up. They always call and check on us. They have been a true resource to this growing small business.