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Jackson Soul Food: Serving Overtown since 1946

Local owner Shirlene Ingraham talks business

Ashley Montgomery | 2/6/2014, 9 a.m.
Shirlene Ingraham, Owner of Jackson Soul Food and a customer.

The Florida restaurant industry is expected to show significant growth in 2014. According to the National Restaurant Association’s [NRA] 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, more than 899,000 jobs will be created this year, and an additional 134,600 jobs in the next decade.

Shirlene Ingraham, owner of Jackson’s Soul Food in Overtown, can attest to the recent trend firsthand.

“Right now I have 20 employees and they are all from the community or people with records, and that’s who I try to hire,” Ingraham said. “[In Overtown], I am their biggest employer right now.”  

When heading out on the town for a bite to eat, consider Florida’s 4.5 percent sales growth to reach $34.6 billon for the year 2014.

The NRA bases its forecast on surveys and research, which includes historical data from  the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Industry sales are planning to exceed $683 billion in 2014, up 3.6 percent from 2013’s sales volume of $659 billion.

This year also marks the 15th straight year in which the restaurant industry’s employment rate will outpace overall employment growth.

For Ingraham, she is looking to employ 10 to 12 more people this year alone as she sets to open a new location in Opa-locka (14511 NW 27th Avenue).

“I am pushing to be open in the next two to three months,” Ingraham said.

Any persons looking to apply at the up and coming Jackson’s Soul Food restaurant are encouraged to walk-in to their current location.

Challenges

While the restaurant industry is expected to grow in 2014, operators will continue to face a range of challenges.

The top challenges cited by restaurateurs vary depending by industry segment and includes food costs, labor costs and the economy.

Ingraham says that her number one trial being a small business is marketing.

“Over my 26 years, most of my clients have come from word of mouth . . . marketing is out biggest challenge,” Ingraham said.

Hudson Riehle, senior vice president, Research and Knowledge for the NRA said that “despite the challenges, America’s restaurants are showing continued resiliency and innovation.

“As the industry enters its fifth straight year of real sales growth, operators are feeding consumer appetites with new technology, customer loyalty efforts, and evolving menu options,” Riehle said.

Our foodservice owners are most definitely rising to the challenge of providing consumers with the aforementioned according the this growth spurt.