Lessons from Lillie McCoy’s grandmother and mother led her to open Soul Heaven Café, a soul food restaurant. After conducting customer research, McCoy leased a building surrounded by fast food restaurants where soul food has little competition in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and went into business in July 2012.
McCoy worked for a major Italian chain restaurant that sent her to culinary school. She also managed multiple restaurants. She says: “What I have learned from managing other businesses is you have to jump through hoops. It’s not about the customer, it’s about the dollar.”
Modeled after a take-out establishment, the restaurant seats 15 and is the only restaurant in her area offering made-from-scratch breakfast before 11 a.m.
Knowing she might not qualify for a bank loan, McCoy progressively purchased kitchen equipment. She learned of LiftFund through a Google search but didn’t apply until Alabama Women in Business encouraged her. McCoy’s loan for kitchen equipment led to a larger menu, she says. Without the loan, Lillie would have taken longer to open. “I would like to thank LiftFund for believing in me and helping me achieve my dreams.”