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The Colorful Woven Threads that Make Up the Fabric of Our City

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Jay Patton, Traditional Master Barber. Photo(s) by George Hunter.

Gwinnett County is getting more and more culturally and racially diverse. Remember the old adage ‘Variety is the spice of life’? In today’s climate of social unrest and world-wide protests for racial justice, we should move towards healing by getting to know our neighbors and broaching some delicate conversations. It can be scary and cathartic — and it can be a little heartbreaking, too.

The heartbeat of Peachtree Corners is strong because of the amazing people who live and work here. I reached out to some from a variety of backgrounds. Each of their accounts will have you shouting, Vive la différence!

No matter what their jobs, ages, political leanings, religious beliefs, ethnicity or color of their skin, each one has essentially come to the same conclusion with regard to moving forward through the turmoil that has been unleashed in the wake of George Floyd’s death. It’s a focus not on what divides us, but on what can bring us all together. It’s the inevitable acquiescence to an aphorism anyone can support — love is always the answer.

Jay Patton

Jay Patton

Traditional Master Barber Jay Patton moved to Peachtree Corners two years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He noted that his hometown is less diverse, primarily Caucasian, and he’s been enjoying the “good mix” of people here.

“In Minnesota, growing up, there was more racial tension,” Patton said. He felt a larger divide between the privileged and the underprivileged. “There’s less opportunity for certain people in certain states. You come down here and if you have a good credit score, you blend in as long as you’re putting out good vibrations,” he explained.

At your service

After working near Perimeter Mall for five years at Gino’s Classic Barbershop, he decided to venture out on his own. “One of my customers told me about Blaxican,” Patton said. The fusion restaurant serves food inspired by Southern soul cooking and Mexican classics. “Being biracial, I thought that concept was catchy. I came here, drove around a bit and I felt good energy,” he recounted.

Patton opened Traditional Shave Masters Barbershop at 5260 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. “This area is blowing up. I think it’s going to be bigger than Sandy Springs,” he said. He likes the plans for the area.

The barbershop offers “male services — straight edge razor work, blades, steam towels, shaving beard work. With different packages to choose from — like The Distinguished Man, The Exquisite Man, The Classic Man — there’s something for everyone. Female clients with short hairstyles are welcome too,” Patton said. “We have competitive prices and talented, diverse barbers.”

 Things had started picking up well, “and now we’re going through this Corona stuff. It’s pretty challenging,” he shared.

Cutting through racial lines

Patton prides himself on being able to serve the whole community, no matter what race, background or ethnicity. “Most shops are racially separated. People are more comfortable coming in when they see people who look like them,” he said. “I want everyone to look in the window and feel like they can come in. I play jazz music. Everyone likes the smooth, mellow stuff.”

Men have different ways to describe how they want their hair and beards trimmed, depending on their ethnicity, where they’re from, race and even social status, according to Patton. “It’s up to the barber to ask the right questions to really understand what the client wants so you can hook him up,” he said.

He noted that since the rock and roll era, when men grew their hair out, the white barber shop kind of died off as they gravitated to salons. “But now the traditional barber is back. It’s becoming more appealing to all men, of all races,” Patton explained. “Around Atlanta, men want to look good. That’s a good thing!”

No barber school teaches how to cut across racial lines, he said. “My instructor was an old school Irish dude. It’s all hair, but the way you approach it is different. One might use different tools.”

Wherever he worked, he sought to cut hair he was unfamiliar with and learn to cut all types of hair. “I’ve been to a Russian shop, a Puerto Rican shop, a black shop. I made sure to get out of my comfort zone,” Patton said.

Patton could pass for either white or black. “The way I look, people don’t know. I’m chameleon-like. My father is Creole and my mother is Puerto Rican. That’s a loaded soup bowl,” he chuckled. “I had a mother who respected me and explained everything. She watered my seed and I had self-esteem. I love all people. We’re all connected. We’re all on this Earth together.”

He thinks a lot of people would be surprised if they did their 23andMe genetic reports. “I did it and I was mind-blown,” he reported. “I grew up Puerto Rican, but in actuality, I started off Indonesian! I have some Egyptian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, British, Irish, German, Apache Indian, Sanda Gambian — things I had to look up! It was surprising to me. It opened up my eyes.”

He added that people mistake him for Egyptian all the time, “so it was interesting to find out I have some Egyptian in me. I love telling the dudes in Duluth, I started out Asian!”

Still, Patton said, at the end of the day, it’s all the indoctrination and cultural stuff that gets in the way. “We’re all the same color on the inside,” he said. “When we’re little, we play and hang out together. Somewhere in the mix, we get taught all these differences.”

All connected

“As soon as we figure it out and start loving each other again, it’s going to be alright,” he continued. “The message has to be delivered differently to the different communities, but it’s the same. I have to empathize with their situation first, then I can flip it around to some other perspectives.”

Patton believes that having exposure to different kinds of people is good and makes things easier. “Because of where I’ve come from, I’m able to communicate with different races,” he said. “My struggles have shaped and humbled me. I’m able to be around a lot of diverse cultures, probably more so than most people. That’s always helped me; I can mingle through racial lines.”

“Asian, Mexican, white, black — I see more people living harmoniously here. Maybe it’s southern hospitality, but people tend to be more polite here. They smile and try to be nice to each other, and that means everything. Being courteous is an initial connection with people.”

“I feel like I have a broader truth, a natural perspective in the spiritual world,” Patton continued. “We are all connected, but some people like the divisions. They’re capitalizing off of us: the red, the blue, the white, the black, and all that junk. As soon as we figure it out and start loving each other again, it’s going to be alright.”

Dr. April Hang, PharmD

Dr. April Hang, PharmD

Dr. April Hang, PharmD, hails from Petersburg, Virginia and is of Filipino heritage. Her dad was in the Army, so her family traveled a lot. She spent a long time in Germany, where she learned to speak a little of the language, and she studied at Virginia Commonwealth University – Medical College of Virginia School of Pharmacy.

Dr. Hang is Catholic and attends St. Monica Church. Her husband is Buddhist and their three children have been baptized in the Catholic faith.

She opened Peachtree Pharmacy at 5270 Peachtree Parkway in 2012. It’s a compounding pharmacy were medications are customized.“Our clientele is diverse. We serve Hispanics, African Americans, white Americans, Asians. We have seniors all the way down to babies and pets that we take care of, ”Dr.Hang said.“We offer compliance packaging for convenience. It’s helpful for seniors. We put medications in labeled blister packs. They can be organized by day or sorted by morning, afternoon, and evening if necessary.”

And, she said, Peachtree Pharmacy delivers, which is especially important for high-risk patients.

“Compounding is an out-of-the box option for patients who have exhausted all their options and want to try something else. We do carry some traditional medications as well,” she explained. “It takes time to make everything. You have to make sure all the ingredients are included. You’re not just pouring pills out and counting them. You actually have to melt something down, make lollipops, gummies, lozenges or capsules. We have to do our math calculations carefully to make it the exact strength the physician wrote it for.”

Mom-preneur

“I’m first generation American, as well as the first person to start my own business in my family,” Dr. Hang said. She attributes her drive to her dad, who always endeavors to find a solution.

She said that she feels welcome here. “It’s like a small town. That’s why I love Peachtree Corners,” she said. “A lot of our patients are like family to us. This is a great city, a great place to have a small business, especially with Peachtree Corners expanding.”

THC and CBD advocate

One of the things Dr. Hang has gotten involved with is the effort in Georgia to make low THC oil (less than 5%) available to patients suffering from chronic pain, cancer, PTSD, HIV, autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s and other conditions. “I feel like [CBD/THC] oil can help several patients,” she said. “It’s yet another alternative for people.”

She said that doctors can help a patient get a medical card for it. “Everything has been passed in Georgia, and there is a THC oil registry here now, but there’s no access. I think there are over 14,000 patients registered. They have the card, but there is no place where they can go buy it yet,” Dr. Hang said. “We’re just waiting for the infrastructure so people can start applying for manufacture and distribution.”

Unfortunately, the process to get access has been delayed due to COVID-19. It’s likely to be another year or two before access is available for patients.

Diversity at the pharmacy

Dr. Hang welcomes students of diverse backgrounds, some from out of state, who do rotations at her pharmacy. “Most of the time, I say ‘yes,’ because the students are up-to-date on the new things. They keep you updated,” she said. “I try to make it practical for them. They work in the store. I take them to a marketing event. I like to do a couple of little health fairs. I mix it up for them so that they see what we actually do. I didn’t get that when I was in pharmacy school.”

There have been times when a staff member has had an unpleasant interaction and they feel that some racism was directed towards them. “I have one full-time pharmacist, three part-time pharmacists and three full-time pharmacy technicians. One is Asian and the others are African American,” she said.

“When COVID-19 had just started [appearing here], there was a client looking for N95 masks; she wasn’t a regular. She was upset we didn’t have any N95 masks. She told my pharmacist, who is black, “I don’t know what you have to say that is going to carry any value.”

  As Dr. Hang was cleaning the store one day, an older lady came in, looked around and asked, “Why is everybody black in here?” She said, “I don’t see anything wrong with that. There are standards and testing that you have to pass in order to be in this position. Everyone here is qualified.” Dr. Hang added that she has never had issues with racial tensions personally. “It’s a little disheartening that it still occurs,” she said.

She suggested a city-wide cultural festival to help improve racial tensions. “If we can learn more about our neighbors, we’ll be able to understand them better. There are a variety of cultural backgrounds in Peachtree Corners, so let’s celebrate them!”

“When I’m at Peachtree Pharmacy, I post on Facebook, “Come by and see me. Come give me a hug!” Customers come in and tell me, “I miss you so much.” It’s nice to catch up with a lot of the regulars,” she said. “I always post: Free Hugs not Drugs!”

Maurie Ladson

Maurie and Ron Ladson

Maurie Ladson is a Program Director at Corners Outreach, an organization providing a multigenerational approach to helping underserved children with specialized tutoring. Parents are given assistance with career paths, workshops, unemployment and anything they may need to navigate in the education system. Their goal is to achieve a 100% high school graduation rate among the students they serve.

Ladson clarified underserved as “communities or people living amongst us who don’t have all the necessary resources.” She explained, “They may not be earning a living wage. A lot of them are immigrant families. There’s a challenge with education and the language.”

Elementary, my dear

By focusing on elementary school students, the intention is to prepare them for success in middle school and high school. “Then hopefully, to higher learning, either a four-year education or, sometimes, they prefer to do some kind of trade,” Ladson said.

“We’re not focused on one demographic,” she continued. “We welcome all the children who need assistance. The mix varies. In Norcross and on our DeKalb side, we have a high percentage of Latino children. At our Meadow Creek location, there’s a mix of children — Indian, American, Hispanic.”

The Corners Outreach offices are located in Peachtree Corners. Ladson said that Executive Director Larry Campbell liked the name, “as the goal is to touch “every corner” of the community.” The organization partners with Title 1 schools in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, including Peachtree Corners and the surrounding areas, and helps 450 families/children.

“We work with them during the normal school year; we provide after-school tutoringfor two and a half to three hours. We’re supplementing and enhancing what the school is teaching,” Ladson said. “There’s a big focus on reading comprehension and math. We then provide nine weeks of summer camp which focus on reading, math, games and a craft.”

School principals identify the children in most need. There is also input from counselors, teachers, teacher liaisons, center coordinators and ESOL [English to speakers of other languages] coordinators. “We also have volunteers that play a key role in our success. We’re so thankful,” she said. “Schools like Wesleyan, GAC, Perimeter Church and individuals in our wonderful Peachtree Corners community come out and volunteer their time.”

Masks with a purpose

Due to COVID-19, Corners Outreach was unable to tutor or assist families in person for some time. “We began communication via Zoom, WhatsApp, video chat, telephone calls. There was a big need to assist in setting up Internet. Many of the families didn’t have it,” she continued.

“Our organization was able to place Chromebooks in the community for children to be able to do their homework. It was still challenging because in a lot of cases they’re sharing either a phone or a hot spot. With two to four children in the family of various ages, needing to do homework with one device, that was difficult.”

To help underemployed parents, the organization developed Masks with a Purpose. After surveying the parents, they found they had 101 mothers with sewing skills that could be used to provide much-needed masks in the community.

“They sew masks and earn a living wage, $4 per mask,” Ladson said. “We launched the Corners Store on June 22 so people can go online and purchase a mask to support our cause.” To purchase a mask, visit cornersoutreach.org. If you don’t need a mask, you can help by giving a donation.

“We’re looking to donate 1,000 masks to farmworkers and 10,000 masks to children in poverty, who can’t afford to buy three or four masks or have the throwaways,” she said. It’s a great cause,” she said. You can donate masks to the effort through their website.

Beauty in all colors

“I’m Mexican American,” Ladson said. “I’ve been in Peachtree Corners for 20 years. My husband is black, dark-skinned African American. People might look at us a little differently. I’m different and I’m good with it.” She and her husband Ron recently celebrated 20 years of marriage.

Having frequented several places of worship over the years, they most recently identify as Protestant and have been attending North End Collective.

Ladson said she witnessed some social injustice in the workplace during her career in banking. A Peruvian teller was the number one salesperson in the bank, exceeding her numbers, yet it was an under-performing white American teller who inexplicably was moved to another location and offered a raise.

“I think in Georgia, Atlanta and in Peachtree Corners, we still have room to grow,” she continued. “I’ve seen a different level of acceptance, if we’re going to call it improvement, absolutely.”

Miriam and Ed Carreras

Miriam and Eddie Carreras
Miriam and Eddie Carreras

By pure coincidence, Miriam and Ed Carreras shared a similar history predating their marriage of 48 years. They both left Cuba with their families at a young age, and within five to seven years, they became naturalized U.S. citizens.

After a 20-year career as a microbiologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Miriam is now a Realtor with RE/MAX Prestige. “I guess, given my name and former clients, I get quite a few referrals from Spanish-speaking buyers. I would say most of my clients right now are Hispanic,” she said. Hispanics, who can identify as any race, make up 15.2% of the population in Peachtree Corners.

Miriam works in residential real estate, both on listings — people selling their homes — as well as helping buyers find their dream homes. Being bilingual, she is a huge asset to the community. She is able to help English and Spanish speakers navigate the sometimes-challenging waters of real estate.

A home is one of the biggest and most important investments a family will ever make, and Miriam is happy to provide her clients with excellent customer service, every step of the way.

Ed was an attorney with The Coca Cola Company for about 20 years. He retired from the company in 2003 and joined a law firm. He retired from the firm in February of this year. “We were supposed to travel, and now we’re homebound because of COVID-19,” he said.

As an attorney, much of his work was international. “I dealt with a number of countries, like Japan, countries in Europe, in Latin America, and so on,” Ed shared.

He served on the Board of Goodwill of North Georgia for a number of years and was Chair of the Board for two years. “Goodwill had a significant relationship with the Hispanic community. One of the things I got involved in was developing a robust system for their strategic plan,” Ed said.

In studying the projection of population changes, he and his fellow board members identified the important growth of the Hispanic community and the need for more Hispanic contacts and people with language skills in the organization.

A home in Peachtree Corners

The Carreras family built their home in Neely Farm in 1998. Both are happy with the amount of diversity in Peachtree Corners. “I think there is a good mix of people. You see a nice diversity of cultures represented here,” Ed said. “My experience is more in the restaurants since I like eating. We’ve gone to a lot of different types.”

“I think there’s pretty good diversity,” Miriam added. “Even in our subdivision, we’re diverse.”

They haven’t had any negative experiences because of their ethnicity in recent years. As a teenager, Ed recalled an incident at a restaurant in Miami. His family was speaking Spanish, and a man at a nearby table addressed them, saying, “Go back to Cuba!”

“My father was surprised. He turned around and in perfect English said, “I’m sorry, does it bother you if we speak Spanish?” The guy ended up apologizing,” Ed remembered. “I was 13 or 15 at the time. It stuck in my mind because my father handled it so perfectly. The guy said, “You speak English very well.” My father said, “Yes, I was educated in the United States. I went to an Ivy League school.” The guy just kept shrinking.”

Ed said that everyone carries prejudices based on faulty stereotypes. “From my own experience, the best way to eliminate prejudice is to be made aware that the stereotype supporting the prejudice is not correct,” he explained. “Anything that helps an individual realize that the stereotype is wrong should help in reducing prejudice.”

“Education highlighting non-stereotypical members of a group could help,” Ed suggested, “as well as the promotion of events that bring members of diverse groups together in a social setting.”

Joe Sawyer

Joe and Kimberly Sawyer

As the city is building a physical pedestrian bridge over Peachtree Parkway, resident of 25 years and equity warrior, President and Cofounder of Bridges Peachtree Corners Joe Sawyer has been launching intensive volunteer efforts to build metaphorical bridges between races and social classes in the city. “I guess you can say it’s about black and white; we’re trying to bring equality up to where it needs to be,” he shared.

Bridges is a non-profit funded by grants and generous donations from the community. The board is made up of a diverse group who share Sawyer’s mission to close the gap between the affluent and the less affluent parts of town. They’ve been working on racial diversity and economic disparity since 2013.

Through school counselors, they identify needs at Peachtree Elementary and other area schools, assisting in any way they can — from electric pencil sharpeners in the classroom to Christmas dinners for families. They’re currently partnering with xfinity to provide internet access so children can do their schoolwork at home during the pandemic.

Affectionately known as Preacher Man, Sawyer would love to help more areas of the city reach their potential. He espouses the Holcomb Bridge Corridor Project , the city’s plan to revamp the area, and hopes it will get underway soon. “We’ve done the easy part, the Forum and Town Center area. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and do the hard part,” Sawyer said.

Sawyer comes clean

This is a man who will “tell it like it is.” He is refreshingly unafraid to level with you. Sawyer attends Life Center Apostolic Church in Dunwoody. His faith shines through in everything he touches, including his company name of 20 years, Alpha Omega Carpet Cleaning, inspired by the book of Revelation.

Since many are home with more time than usual on their hands, the pandemic has Sawyer busier than ever. “I build relationships with my customers. By the time I leave their house, I’m their friend,” he said. He also prides himself on his effective carpet cleaning services, which avoid harsh chemicals, as he is a cancer survivor.

The United Nations

Together with his wife Kimberly of 31 years (who is white), Sawyer has raised his two daughters, now 29 and 23. “She’s my backbone. She keeps me grounded,” he said. His daughters are now raising his five grandkids in Peachtree Corners.

The Sawyers have two blond, blue-eyed grandchildren and three who are light skinned black. “I’ve got everybody in my family — we have the United Nations over here,” Sawyer laughed.

In 1992 things were more challenging for biracial couples. Sawyer’s in-laws didn’t allow him into their home until two years after the marriage; now they’re the best of friends, despite many earlier battles. “They had to make sure I was going to take care of their daughter. I think that was one of the biggest issues,” he said. “Mixed marriages are more common now, and more likely to be accepted by both families, but you still have issues with certain people. I just try to keep it real and be myself.”

Sawyer shared a story from his senior year in high school (1982), when he was given an ultimatum: stop dating his white girlfriend or quit the football team. The young lady’s mom called the school because they had published a picture of them in the school magazine.

The girl’s mom had known about their relationship. In fact, they were among the few biracial couples at the time who did not hide it. But when other parents saw the photo, it became a problem. Sawyer elected to pass on what may have been a lucrative career and quit the team.

Sawyer noted that things have changed for the better. “It’s a new generation, we’re improving a whole lot,” he said. He’s unaware of any negative issues experienced by his daughters about being biracial.

While Peachtree Corners is very diverse, Sawyer said he still experiences some people who are prejudiced. During a recent job, a client had left the door open for him. It saddened him to learn that his client’s neighbor reached out to inform her, saying, “There’s a black man in your house.”

“[Racism] is still there, but overall, I think Peachtree Corners is a welcoming community. You might have some people stuck in their ways, but you just have to learn to overlook them. We stopped and we said a prayer for the lady,” Sawyer said.

He believes the cause of divisiveness is that some people don’t want to lose control of what they’ve got. “As long as we feel that one race is better than the other, we’re always going to have a problem. Both communities have work to do. Now is the perfect time for us to work on race relations in America,” Sawyer affirmed.

Preacher Man

When he was little, Sawyer told his dad, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” His father replied, “You don’t want to be like me, son, you want to be like Jesus.”

“So that’s what I try to do. As soon as we realize that we’re all made in God’s image, we’re going to be OK,” he said. “I don’t hate anybody. I try to get along with everybody. Don’t let politicians divide us any more than we’re divided. That’s the biggest problem. We listen to what’s on TV. I don’t need anybody to tell me who I like and who I don’t like.”

 “We have to come together,” he continued. “I’m thankful for the friends the Lord has put in my life. We have to change our perception of our neighbors. Not all people of a different race are bad. Be there for your friends.”

Sawyer added that everyone needs to work on racism as a society. “Both the white and black communities have work to do. Now is the perfect time for us to work on race relations in America. The whole world sees what’s going on, politicians fighting over this and that. We don’t have any togetherness,” he said. “Let’s take a stand and let’s be one. We claim to be one nation under God but how can we be under God if we’re at each other’s throats?”

Father Darragh Griffith

Rev. Darragh Griffith

Rev. Darragh Griffith is originally from Dublin, Ireland and has been in the U.S. for 24 years. Following 10 years at Holy Family in Marietta, he’s been the pastor at Mary Our Queen (MOQ) — the only Catholic church in Peachtree Corners — for four years.

“We welcome the community to come see our new church. It’s a beautiful, traditional church based on Saint Gerard’s in Buffalo. If you’re exploring questions about the Catholic faith, we’re here,” Father Griffith offered.

Though the present church is just a year old, the parish has been here since 1998. The pews, stained-glass windows and altars were taken from the old church in Buffalo, New York.

Mass during the pandemic

“We’ve been live-streaming masses on YouTube and our website. But now we’re back,” Father Griffith said. The church has an outdoor mass on Sundays at 8:30 a.m. for people who feel more comfortable outside, and services in the church on Sundays at 11 a.m. and Saturdays at 5 p.m.

Masks and social distancing are expected at the indoor services. Seating is roped off to allow for every second pew to be occupied. “It’s working out for this time,” he said.

 The parish

The makeup of the MOQ parish is quite diverse. “We’ve got people from every continent. We have a lot of Asian people from Vietnam, for example. People from the African continent, Nigeria and other countries, Hispanic and white Anglo, as well,” shared Father Griffith.

MOQ provides spiritual and financial outreach to Peachtree Corners families through The Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP). Volunteers make home visits with families and individuals who call the helpline seeking food or financial help.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, MOQ SVDP has assisted over 150 individuals. The help line number is 678-892-6163.

The domestic church

For Father Griffith, what happens at home is as important as what happens at church. “In these times, I believe the home is crucial. Parents have a great and joyful responsibility. The family has never been as important, from where we stand, as it is now,” he said. “That’s where you can lead by witness to your children. Not so much by words, but by example. The family is crucial.”

He said that the church has always taught that the home is the domestic church. “The home is where parents hand on the faith to their children. I think that’s crucial,” Father Griffith said. “My work, the church’s work is not going to bear fruit if it’s not happening at home.”

Spreading God’s love

“It’s sad to see some of the things that we see on TV, some of the violence. It is kind of sad and disturbing, what’s happening,” Father Griffith said. “The church believes in treating everyone with respect and love. We’re a universal church. We love and accept everyone. In the Catholic faith, we’ve got people of all sorts of cultures, backgrounds, traditions.”

For a solution to today’s troubled climate, Father Griffith leads with the suggestion that we respect one another. “We’re all made in the image of God. Everyone is precious in God’s eyes. Every person is created through God’s love,” he said.

Father Griffith said that he knows it’s been hard during the pandemic for people to meet up, interact and socialize. “If we can get together and have that as a base, we’ll not be afraid of each other,” he said. “And love, that’s what Jesus spoke about, loving all people. That’s what our Catholic faith teaches us.”

Faith is critical for Father Griffith. “If we’re living our faith, that informs our decisions and our behavior. As it says in Scripture, our lives should be based on faith and our relationship with God,” he said. “Hopefully people will be open to God and to His Spirit at this time.”

Karl Barham

Karl Barham

Karl Barham, President of Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta, Peachtree, started the business with his wife, Ann, two years ago. They own a local office of the franchise in Peachtree Corners. 

“We relocated from New York City, got married and started a family here,” he said. “We found Peachtree Corners to be a fabulous place to live, work and raise a family.” They’re a Christian family and attend Close Perimeter Church.

Barham explained business brokers specialize in buying and selling businesses. “We do small, neighborhood businesses — any size, up to maybe about $25 million. We arrange to find the buyers and we help them get the deal done.”

Growing up black

“I’m first generation in the U.S. My family is from Jamaica, the third poorest county in the Caribbean. They came here, raised their kids and we’ve done well,” Barham said. “But I do see, for a lot of people who are very specifically black, they’re not looking for handouts or anything, they just want the proverbial knee off the neck.”

“When you’re in a minority, you always think about race,” he continued. “Jamaica is a mostly black country. When I spend time there, everyone looks like me. In the U.S., it’s the reverse, and as you move up in corporate America, it’s even more of the reverse. It’s always there to think about.”

Barham’s dream and hope for the future is that his kids don’t have to deal with the kind of discrimination that he’s seen in his lifetime. “Changes need to happen in this generation. Will it change in my lifetime? I don’t know. I thought it would,” he said. “When I was a young kid, my dad was saying the same things. I said, “Oh, by the time I’m your age, that stuff will all be solved.” I was wrong. It isn’t.”

Starting a conversation

When Barham received inquiries on what people could do in their companies about racial justice, he thought it would be a good topic for the Capitalist Sage podcasts that he regularly hosts with Peachtree Corners Magazine publisher Rico Figliolini. So, they began a series of podcasts about diversity and race.

“It’s been a topic discussed nationally, and we said, ‘what about here? Is there anything going on locally?’” he said. They produced three episodes, with two to three guests on each. “We talked about racial and social justice in leadership and in the local community,” Barham said. “We had stay-at-home moms, elected officials, church leaders and faith leaders, just talking about what it means and how they’ve been reacting to what’s happening with Black Lives Matter. We asked: what can citizens can do individually? What can local leaders do? We just wanted to start a dialogue.”

Barham said that one of the things that’s interesting about the South is that racism is part of the history that people don’t talk about because they’re trying to be polite, yet “there’s this undercurrent of race in a lot of conversations.”

“It wasn’t too long ago in the South that some [schools] had a black prom and a white prom,” he said. “Friends are so segregated; they get together sometimes for sports, school and some social activities, but they go home to dinner and they go to church in very separate worlds. They don’t get a chance to really learn about each other, so misunderstandings can happen more easily.”

Barham shared a little game he plays. “Whenever anyone talks about race — black, white — it’s hard; it’s too charged. I change “black” to “short”. If I were to say: What if short people, anybody under 5’10”, are not able to get all of the same opportunities as everyone else? A lot of people would be REALLY upset.”

“If I was sitting at a party and people were talking about, “Oh, those short people…”, I might say, “Hey, time out! Half my friends are short.”

A note of hope

Barham said he sees a lot of people coming together to help advance social justice, including racial justice. “I think we should lift those people up. We should elect them to office,” he said.

And he sees a lot of things to be hopeful for. “When I look at the community here, I see more people of color starting businesses,” Barham reported. “In the last 10 deals that we’ve done, more than 50% of them had a person of color on one side of the deal or the other. Things are changing in society — and things can and will continue to get better.”

Diverse perspectives, the same conclusion

It’s easy to see why niche.com gives Peachtree Corners an A+ for diversity. Let’s move forward holding hands (figuratively, of course), leaving injustice behind and making the fabric of Peachtree Corners stronger and more beautiful than ever before.

“We must continue to go forward as one people, as brothers and sisters.” ~ Rep. John Lewis

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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Peachtree Corners’ Curiosity Lab Celebrates 1-Year Anniversary

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Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is celebrating its one-year anniversary as the world’s first 5G-enabled living laboratory for testing, demoing and deploying autonomous vehicle and smart city technology.

“Joining Curiosity Lab as a resident company and member has created new opportunities for us to engage with non-traditional partners and accelerate our growth,” said Eyal Elyashiv, Founder and CEO of Cynamics, a disruptive AI-based Network Visibility Solution for Threat Prediction and Performance Optimization “Peachtree Corners has built a one-of-a-kind technology ecosystem in Curiosity Lab that enables technology companies such as us to test and prove next-generation solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.”

The city of Peachtree Corners founded and launched Curiosity Lab on September 11, 2019 in conjunction with Smart City Expo Atlanta. Featuring a 3-mile autonomous vehicle test track, 5G connectivity, dedicated DSRC units, a network operations control center, smart traffic light and smart poles, the Lab enables corporate innovation teams and startups to test their technology in a real-world environment where more than 8,000 individuals work and live.

The Lab combines access to subject matter experts and experienced serial entrepreneurs with infrastructure that accelerates growth and engagement for established companies and startups.

Since its opening, the Lab has experienced significant growth with the addition of some of the world’s most promising technology innovators. Building upon that momentum, Curiosity Lab launched a variety of partnerships with organizations such as Georgia Power, Delta Airlines, the Ray, ASHRAE, The Technology Association of Georgia, The Metro Atlanta Chamber, Kennesaw State University and Georgia Tech.

Curiosity Lab milestones during the year also include:

· Winning Transportation Project of the Year in IDC’s Smart Cities North America Awards (SCNAA).

· Deploying Local Motors’ Olli, the world’s first co-created autonomous electric shuttle, for several months with city residents.

· Launching the world’s first fleet of shared e-scooters with teleoperated repositioning.

· Expanding its technology infrastructure to enable research and testing by academic, corporate and startup technology innovators.

“The last 12 months have been exciting and challenging – but Curiosity Lab has remained focused on facilitating innovation and creating opportunities for our members and ecosystem partners,” said Betsy Plattenburg, executive director of Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners. “Our grand opening demonstrated the potential of new technologies for a future yet imagined. Autonomous delivery that was novel this time last year is critically important today.”

Curiosity Lab is actively recruiting innovators working on mobility and smart city technologies. To learn more, visit: curiositylabptc.com/contact/

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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Future of the Restaurant Business

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Capitalist Sage podcast

Clifford Bramble, author of “Within Our Walls” an “inspirational story for the restaurant industry,” and the founder and owner of Hungry Hospitality joins Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini to talk about the current state and the future of the restaurant business. Recorded socially safe from the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia

Website: ​https://www.hungryhospitality.com
Social Media: @HungryHospitality

“No matter what industry you’re in, you have to learn and do the job before you actually become an owner of the job. Or the owner of the business. So if somebody wants to get into the chef position, they have to learn how to cook. If somebody wants to learn how to do the business side, they have to learn the front of the house stuff. So it’s really important that they still have to be working for somebody to learn from somebody. They can do it in school, but they’re going to learn a lot more on property, inside a restaurant.”

CLiff Bramble

Where to find the topic, timestamp:
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:49] – About Cliff
[00:03:35] – Why Restaurants?
[00:07:22] – First impressions of COVID
[00:09:19] – Doing Things Differently
[00:14:07] – Finding the Right Information
[00:17:52] – Reopening
[00:18:57] – Looking to the Future
[00:25:21] – Restaurant Real Estate
[00:29:20] – Getting into the Restaurant Business
[00:31:12] – Closing

Cliff Bramble joined us on our video chat podcast.

Podcast Transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors, and my cohost is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners Magazine. How’re you doing Rico?

Rico: [00:00:47] Hey, Karl. Good. Thanks.

Karl: [00:00:49] Well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about our sponsors today?

Rico: [00:00:52] Sure. Let’s go right into it. Our lead sponsor I want to thank is Hargray Fiber. They’re a major company in the Southeast that handles fiber optics, internet connection at the speeds you need. And also because they handle, because they’re right in the community, they’re not your cable guy, right. You could call them up, they’ll be right out there. They’re very attentive to their client’s needs. Whether you’re a small business or you’re a large enterprise business, whether your employees are working from home or home and office, they’re providing all the smart office tools that you need to be able to do the work that your company needs to be able to get sales done. So check them out, they’re HargrayFiber.com. Or you can go to Hargray.com/Business and check them out because they have a thousand dollar Visa gift card going, promotion. And you may be one of those if you hook up with them. So check them out. Thank you to Hargray Fiber.

Karl: [00:01:49] Thank you. Thank you Hargray for continuing to sponsor all of the podcasts here. Today I’m excited to bring back a guest that joined us when we started this, if you remember. Cliff Bramble, founder and owner of Hungry Hospitality here in Gwinnett County. He’s here to talk a little bit about his perspective and experience and thoughts on business, small business in particular restaurant. 2020, it’s been a tough year for so many businesses. And in particular, you’ll see a lot of restaurant business being impacted. But I’ll tell you, being able to understand the history and what makes things work, is a great conversation to just show how we could support small business and maybe even talk a little bit about what it’s gonna look like post COVID. So Cliff how’re you doing today?

Cliff: [00:02:41] I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on.

Karl: [00:02:43] Well, many people might already know you and so on, but I’d love for you to share your background with folks so they can understand the many, many things that you’ve done in your career.

Cliff: [00:02:55] Absolutely. So, I live in Peachtree Corners. So I’m around here quite frequently. I was, I had the Nobel Fin going for quite some time until COVID came in. So I’ve been in the restaurant business for many years. I cofounded Rathmines Restaurants many years ago. And in the meantime, after that, ended up opening up Noble Fin. And now I just started a new company called Hungry Hospitality because, Noble Fin, I had to close it. Which isn’t a good thing, but we had to do what we had to do to start with COVID. But being in the restaurant
business and also real estate and also investing, I’ve been working with businesses for many years and I really enjoy it. It’s always a fun thing to do.

Karl: [00:03:35] Well, that’s what we’re here to talk to is the small business owners. We know it could be lonely owning your small business and having others to be able to share ideas with talk, to get ideas from, we know is very helpful. And so, why don’t we jump right in? And I’m curious when you did all your experience in a restaurant, what are some of the things that attracted you and many people to the restaurant business? From a business perspective, why do you think people get into that?

Cliff: [00:04:03] Well, you know, there’s a lot of glory in restaurants. A lot of people love to be in it. There’s, you know, there’s many people that will say, Hey, I’d love to open a restaurant. I don’t know about right now, but over the years they always have. But there’s always a lot of excitement. There’s a lot of adrenaline that’s going on. You know, there’s that. You’re around some nice people all the time. You’re around people all the time. And some people think it’s just an excitement thing all the time. You’re always excited. There’s always something going on. And although there is, you still have to run the business, with the HR and the hiring and all the other aspects that go into it. But the restaurant industry, it will come back. It’s having a challenge right now, but it will come back and there’ll be just as many people in it.

Karl: [00:04:44] Yeah. Over the years, I think one of the things is I always associate restaurant with creating memories. People get engaged, they have family feasts, birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day. And no matter what is happening in the economy or the world, people are going to want to celebrate with other people. They’re going to do it over food. And so we know that that’s going to sustain over the long term. What are some of the things that people, when you think about restaurants, they don’t know about the restaurant industry that you think they should for folks that have been in it for awhile?

Cliff: [00:05:18] Well, a lot of people may, again, people think it’s a fun industry. You, number one, you have to be there when you open up a restaurant, you really have to be there most of the time, especially if you’re independent. If you’re working with five and six other restaurant groups or you own it, and you have the luxury of hiring people because you’re a very profitable organization, you will have less time within the restaurant and more time operating the company because somebody still has to run the company. But the options are, is that people don’t see the hard work, the sacrifices that go into owning a restaurant. If it’s your kid’s birthday and you own a restaurant and you’re opening and it’s Friday night, you probably have to be there. It just depends on what people’s version and definition of fun and excitement is, but there’s a lot of hard work that you have to be there all the time.

Rico: [00:06:09] You know, I remember when we did a podcast, not too long ago, about your travels to Italy. Yeah, that was fun. I mean, you shared some pictures. You talked about the food and all that. Do you miss any of that? Do you miss being, you know, I know it’s only been a
little while. You know, but sometimes I feel like people leave a business and it doesn’t take long for them to miss it. Like a few days even.

Cliff: [00:06:34] Yeah. It’s interesting. You mentioned that if somebody asked me that the other day, just yesterday and he said, Well, are you going to get back into it? And I said, listen, I’ve been doing this for about almost 40 years. And, I’d love to say that I want to jump right into it, but I have to tell you I’m having a good time not being in it right now. So, you know, what you do realize is all of a sudden you realize all those things that you really couldn’t do over the years and you missed, all of a sudden they’re back at you. But you do miss the, you know, the fun of the excitement on a nightly basis, meeting all the different people. Because you do meet a lot of people in the restaurants and you have a lot of friends in the restaurants or acquaintances. But the other thing you miss is you miss the good food. So we cook at home all the time now.

Karl: [00:07:22] I’m curious when all, COVID-19 started to happen, where did you first hear that something was happening? How soon did you hear something was happening? What was your first thoughts and reaction to that?

Cliff: [00:07:35] Well, I’m involved in investments and financial side as well. And I’ve been, I started watching it in December to be honest. And, so in December I really watched it and in January I became obsessed with it. To a point where, I was up at three 30 in the morning, reading news from other countries, from that all the way to the East or the West, wherever it was. That was already happening and I was watching it. So for the month of January, I watched it and I read. I read a lot of information about it and I kind of warned a few friends of mine. I said, you know, if this comes over here, restaurant wise, we may end up having a big problem. Now I didn’t know how big of a problem it was, but watching it escalate, I took a lot of screenshots basically when the John Hopkins first started tracking. It had, there was two people. I have a screenshot with two people in the United States have it. And then it continued to go up and up and up. So, you know for me, I started watching it in January really, really, more so than December. But when I had over at Noble Fin, I did tell my staff in January. I advised them I said, listen guys, if this comes over here, it’s going to affect everybody. So start saving your money. And actually quite a few of them thanked me later on. And they said, man, I can’t believe that. But we did save our money and thank you very much. So I watched a lot of it in January. And then obviously in February when it started to pick up, you know, it just continued. I think the financial markets, in my opinion, kind of ignored it in January. You know, just paying attention to it, wondering what was going to happen on the hospitality side. It took a mind of its own and obviously where we are now today.

Karl: [00:09:19] Yeah. I remembered you actually being one of the first ones to talk about it and, you know, we were chatting and you were starting to do that early March, late February, early March. But I don’t know that people really understood how long this would be around. And we all didn’t know enough information about how we responded and how many. There was a time there were country that had a spike and then they got it under control and everyone thought that that’s what happens. But decisions and choices and behaviors and all these things played in.
And we’re a big country with a lot of complexity to it. 50 States, a lot of different approaches to tackling it. So, when you knew that it was going to impact your business, I know there are things you can do generally. Is there anything looking back, you’d advise the restaurant industry as a whole or people that are leading large in the food and beverage space, things that a year ago, you know, hindsight’s always 2020. Things that a year ago, things that could be done to prepare, if something like this were to happen. What would be some of the things in the food and beverage space that good business people could do? Could have done?

Cliff: [00:10:38] Well, one of the most important parts really for me, was making sure you had enough cash flow in a situation like this or any emergency situation. And, you know, I’ve worked with my accountant and it’s very interesting. Making sure that you have enough cashflow for three or four months. And most people in the, you know, we’re all in the same boat. Most people in the United States only have two or three months worth of a fund saved. In a restaurant the same exact thing. You do have to treat it as a business because that’s exactly what it is first. The fun of the restaurant has to come second. But having the cash in bank and making sure that you have enough for an emergency situation, honestly, it helped me tremendously this time. Now obviously you can not predict what’s going to happen how far along this is going to go. But, there still are, you know, we’re still in the pandemic. There’s still restaurants that are having challenges, especially in different segments. So you know, when it comes down to it, in my opinion, no matter what business you’re in you always have to plan two, three, four, five months worth of cashflow to make sure that you have that. Because when you need it and you don’t have it, you can’t get it.

Rico: [00:11:46] Let me ask you something. You know, I don’t think the restaurant business. Is immune to things, right? They’re listeria outbreaks, the salmonella outbreaks. Those are common. Every day there’s always a recall somewhere in the country for something. Especially romaine lettuce. Well, romaine lettuce from Arizona, I guess, or wherever it comes from. It’s like that one place, you know. So you have all that going on and then you have the pandemic on top of that because you have the normal stuff like that. So do you see this coming back? I mean, they’re talking about it coming back again. You know should restaurants are planning out for this type of thing beyond the money? You know, how do you plan the health wise? How do you keep things clean? And not that you know, a pandemic this may not matter, I guess the cleanliness. But how do you, what do you see there?

Cliff: [00:12:42] Well, I wish I had a crystal ball. I really do, but you know, restaurants in general are clean. You know, we clean them all the time. You have a cleaning crew or you have an outside company who comes in and cleans it. So it just, it really depends, but you still have to remain diligent on what you’re doing and you have to continue to train your staff.That’s there and make sure the management is on guard. Make sure that everybody’s paying attention. Because it, you know, what happened to me over at Noble Fin is really the reason why I ended up closing the first time in March was because somebody walked in. And then they had a party of 10, but they came from out of town. They called up two days later and they said, Hey, by the way, I think I may have COVID. You may have to tell your staff. So that was a real big
eyeopener for me when I’m dealing with hotel guests from the Marriott locally here, and, you know, the international companies that are around Peachtree Corners and Gwinnett. That was a big eyeopener. So you know, keep being diligent about listening and watching what’s going on and listening to your staff because your staff will tell you a lot of what’s going on. But more importantly, you have to continue to remain diligent and be clean and make sure you’re paying attention to everything around you. You can’t just be paying attention to your four walls within that restaurant. You have to be paying attention to what’s going on in the business world as well, because it does affect restaurants.

Karl: [00:14:07] That’s a good point. Early on information was flowing from so many sources to help guide you on restaurant safety and protocol. What was the right source to listen to? How do you figure out who to pay attention to?

Cliff: [00:14:24] That goes right about now too, we’re still trying to figure it out. You know what? The Georgia restaurant association has a great page on COVID. So, you know, any restaurant, or individual, or an employee of a restaurant or hospitality field, they can go onto the Georgia restaurant association webpage. And they have a great COVID, it’s a webpage with all types of resources on it. So that was something that I really paid attention to because they were very keen on keeping that up to date on a daily basis. Even though every day something came out differently. They were very good at keeping their website up.

Rico: [00:15:01] What did you, did you find useful the other resources that the association provided? I mean, obviously the restaurant industry is different than other industries because of the employees. And just the nature of sustainability and all that product. When it came to the Cares Act, to PPP, to loans, to payroll. You know, when business is not happening, was that any of that useful to you? I mean, I know you did a lot for your employees. God knows. I think anyone that lives in Peachtree Corners knows that Cliff Bramble, Noble Fin. You guys really, you really employed your employees as long as you could.

Karl: [00:15:39] And the community.

Cliff: [00:15:41] We did. We did. I honestly, I mean, we did pay attention. You know, when the Cares Act came out, I was very much aware of that coming out four or five weeks ahead of time with my fingers crossed because I told my staff the same exact thing. Hey guys, this is, if this comes in, I’ll be able to help you guys for this much longer. And to be perfectly honest, I mean, I kept a lot of the staff on. I couldn’t, I think 26 staff members on for the nine weeks that we were closed and they got their paycheck. You know, and that was important to me because we opened back up, everyone of those employees was back there to work. Which is a great feeling. So, you know, so yes. The other items that were out there and the people that, you know, friends of mine in the business world also. You know, from my banker to my accountant, we were all kind of talking about the same exact thing. So, we all help each other. And, there was a lot of guys in the restaurant business that I spoke with as well. We had a few, what do they call the zoom meetings, right? We had a few of them. Which were pretty cool because everybody
really helped each other. And I think that’s what the industry is really needing right now, is people to help each other being in the same industry.

Rico: [00:16:50] Well, was it a little scary at one point when they were sort of changing the rules of the game a little bit? Like you had to spend it all in eight weeks and then you could spend it in 24 weeks. Maybe some of it’s forgiven, maybe not some of it, that formula was changing. Was any of that scary?

Cliff: [00:17:07] You know what scary could be a word, but confusing is more of the word. There’s no question about it. I mean, you try to become an expert at this stuff because you know, you’re learning about it, but you’re trying to learn as much as possible. And, I have several, you know, several email friends that would send me information. Hey, this is what’s going on. My banker would send me information. I would go to treasury.org. I would go to all the different government websites and pull down the latest information. But man, confusing is the word, because, you know, one day you go, wow, this is fantastic. And next day you’re up and down. And honestly, you know, you think you lose sleep when you have a restaurant? Go through COVID and own a restaurant, you’ll really be losing sleep. And that’s probably with any business too.

Karl: [00:17:52] Right. I wondered when you reopened and people started coming back, what were some of the, you know, the response the community gave as people started going back out to restaurants and as you walked around town? What was your general sense and feel on how people felt about it?

Cliff: [00:18:10] You know, we opened back up May 25th. It was eight weeks after we had first closed. And I think we were one of the earlier ones that we opened up. And I felt that at that time it was probably a good time because I didn’t know how long this was going to continue. But the people who came in, I have to tell you, we had a very, very supportive clientele and a lot of the people who had frequented the restaurant over the years, they were the first one’s back. Yes, there were some people that came in with masks. Yes, at the very beginning. But we did everything that we possibly could to make the people feel comfortable. But when it comes down to it, you know, the people who came in, they were very supportive. They were very happy that the restaurant was back open. They enjoyed the food and they came back a couple of times. But as the confusion set in, you saw less and less of them.

Karl: [00:18:57] Yeah, yeah. I know people are happy now. If you fast forward to today, restaurants are open and people are going out to eat. Yes, the world’s changed a little bit, there’s a little bit more spacing and so on. But I’m looking in the future, there’s a short term where, you know, until, vaccines are available and so on. We’re going to school dealing with this, we’re working dealing with this, we’re living our lives dealing with this. What do you think the restaurant industry is going to look like over the near short term? And I’m going to ask you, what do you think it’s going to look like a little bit further on? How does this change how
business owners approach food service, delivery, in dining experience. How do you think this could change it? And any of them for the better?

Cliff: [00:19:42] You know, the restaurant industry, I think right now is changing on a daily basis. But, you know, we’ve gone through a lot of different changes in the last six months. Let’s face it. We went from being like, for example, you got quick service, you got full service, you have fine dining, you have fast food. And what happened for me, for example, was you know, we went through the whole process of, okay, let’s see if we can continue with the sale. So we started to-go stuff immediately. And then from there you started selling stuff online and then people started ordering it online. But now you go into the future and all that stuff is still happening. Where there’s a lot of people eating outside. But let’s face it, it’s 95 degrees outside. At nighttime it’s fine. I know a couple of places that they set up their patio and outdoor front, and they look really, really cool. And people do dine in them. But the future-wise, I mean, you’re looking at home delivery. You’re looking at more chefs cooking at home, chefs from restaurants maybe doing meal preps. And that’s already happening. You know, and there’s also a lot of virtual cooking classes as well that’s going on. Where chefs or restaurant owners are doing the virtual cooking classes from their kitchen or they’re doing a zoom cooking class, basically. So the nice part is, is it’s working and people are going with it. What’s going on in a year from now? I don’t know. I mean, there may be some consolidation, but there’s also a lot of companies out there with some pretty deep pockets. That are looking for good brands to purchase with great locations because the restaurant industry, it’s not going anywhere. It will consolidate, it will change, but it’s going to come back. Sooner or later it will come back. But we are dependent on the hotels, just like hotels are dependent on us. And I know in Peachtree Corners there’s still one, at least one hotel that I know of that is not open. But this is people in this area, the less traveling we do, it does provide a challenge for what’s going to happen now or in the future as well.

Karl: [00:21:38] I’m curious. In New York I saw some areas of New York city shut down the streets and allow the restaurants to go out into the streets, where they get the advantage of spacing and they’re able to deliver a different experience. But also, do you think there’s a future and figuring out a way to leverage outdoor space and eating for the short term. And then I’m sure, you know, over time and it’ll go in there. Have you seen any innovations in that area?

Cliff: [00:22:10] You know, most of the cities and the towns have really eased the restrictions on the outdoor dining. I know Peachtree Corners has, so that has helped tremendously. You know, it’s really up to the building departments up to the coding and also how long this is going to continue. Hopefully there’s a vaccine where we can all say, okay, in six months, eight months, this is all done. And people are back dining in air conditioning, rather than sitting in 95 degrees.

Karl: [00:22:33] Yeah.

Rico: [00:22:33] Well, you know, I think that this has shown us though that this could happen again, right? I mean, this is just, this can happen again. And it doesn’t take long, right?
Transatlantic flights. I mean, by the time anyone really knew what was going on. We were already deep into it, you know what I mean? You were able to see it coming, maybe so were other people, but obviously some people ignored it. And it came and slapped us in the face. It was really bad in Italy and Greece and some of the other countries in Europe. But like you were saying things change, right? Yeah, I think there’s more ghost kitchens going on now.

Cliff: [00:23:09] Absolutely.

Rico: [00:23:10] Right. And to explain that to some people that don’t know what a ghost kitchen is.

Karl: [00:23:14] What is a ghost kitchen?

Cliff: [00:23:15] Well you know, there’s a place called Prep Atlanta over by Spaghetti Junction. They have, I don’t know how many, I’d like to say there’s about 75 to 100 different, 100 square feet. Some are 80 square feet kitchens. And I’ve been in two of them. One of my old chef has a food truck and he took me into one of his places and man it was pretty cool. But basically they’re doing all the prep there and then they basically will deliver it to somebody else. I know Elon Musk’s brother is heavily involved. He raised about, only about $500 million to start these virtual kitchens around the United States. So the virtual kitchen, it could be something where you have a restaurant where Noble Fin used to be, for example, and have four or five different kitchens only in there. And basically you order everything online and you just go pick it up. So it remains to be seen, but I think that that virtual kitchen definitely has a huge lifespan coming up to it.

Rico: [00:24:11] If you see what’s going on with like Domino’s pizza, right. The pizza industry is really good at this. There were set because most of their stuff is delivered anyway, right? So Domino’s is no, I think it’s Domino’s right. There’s no sit in, it’s all delivery, right? It’s all curbside or pick up or delivery. You’re seeing more of like what you said. And I’m seeing companies that are doing four different brands within a ghost kitchen. Like they own the whole thing, but they’re doing it for, so that pizzeria, mexican, chinese. They own all four brands let’s say and they’re in some hole in the wall place that’s conditioned for a kitchen and they’re selling right?

Cliff: [00:24:50] Delivery only.

Rico: [00:24:51] Yeah. And then, like you said, your chef started a food truck, right? So I’m seeing more of that.

Cliff: [00:24:58] And I’ll tell you, what’s interesting. He goes to neighborhoods too. He goes to different neighborhoods where, when all of a sudden when, you know, this whole COVID came in. Obviously the business parks had disappeared. Or the people, the parks are there, but the people weren’t. So he ended up going to neighborhoods where they would call him and they have 40, 50 people there and he’d serve them on like a Tuesday night.

Karl: [00:25:21] Yeah. We saw a few of those. Those are good. We ordered dinner, when they would pick neighborhoods from different restaurants, we thought that was fabulous. I’ve got a question that might be more technical. Since you, one of the biggest costs for restaurants is the space, the real estate, the space you’re in. Do you think this is going to have an impact on commercial real estate, being able to charge the same rates, if you can’t have as many people in a space. How do you think that’s going to affect that part of the business model for restaurants?

Cliff: [00:25:57] Well, you know, it’s interesting that you say that. But, you know what, when it comes down to the per square foot, you know, the restaurants are going to move out and restaurants live off of what you’re sales are per square foot and also what your rent is per square foot. And if you have a large restaurant and the rent is, you know, $40 a square foot. You know, in Georgia, in Atlanta, it’s probably a lot less than other parts of the country. But you also have a sales forecast for that specific restaurant square footage. So knowing what your sales are going to be or what they forecasted compared to what they are, the rent will be. And it’s, especially with only at 50% seating capacity, it’s going to provide a challenge without a question. So there are going to being landlords out there trying to charge more rent. It depends on how bad somebody wants a location. If somebody wants to pay for it and they want to be in a restaurant. If they have 4,000 square feet and they need to do $600 a square foot, which is on the medium level. They really want to do $800. So that’s three and a half million dollars in sales, but if they’re paying a low $20 a square foot, that’s great. But if they’re paying 35, your occupancy costs are going to be way too high. So it’s very important to pay attention before you go into it and know what you’re sales are what you think they’re going to be. But with COVID, you know, the next six months we just don’t know.

Karl: [00:27:20] Right. Yeah. And I see, I know with all the vacancies that are happening or projected to happen between retail, restaurants and others, it’s going to have an impact. I remember December, most landlords were pushing price increase in lease updates. Some may still it’s all very local. So it depends on laws, or people, or location. But if the model changes where you can’t drive as much revenue, whether it’s by people or the price you charge, you can’t get the sales volume. Don’t you think that that will force landlords to have to either face vacancy or build a model that allows, you know, business owners to be successful and come to the table. Now over time, like it happens every other time prices will increase again. But for the short term, it’s important that we, that somehow that gets figured out.

Cliff: [00:28:19] Well, you know, listen, we all know there’s going to be a lot of retail space available within the next six months. It’s already happening. You know, whether it’s here in Atlanta, West side, downtown, you go to old fourth ward. I mean, there’s so much happening right now. You look at Alpharetta. Alpharetta is, you know, it continues to grow. Peachtree Corners, there’s buildings here, but there’s also empty buildings as well. So the more of these companies that are not letting or telling their employees to stay home until June of 2021, it provides all of a sudden empty space. Now they still have leases on them. Some of them maybe they own the building, but it’s all really dependent on whether they can work it out with the
landlords. I got an email today from somebody who’s closing a bunch of restaurants and one of the main reasons was because they could not work out a solution with their landlords. So ultimately the landlord is either going to have empty places for, until COVID is over or there’s going to be somebody else who walks in and says, Hey, I have five brands and I want to put them in that place. Maybe for a virtual kitchen. You just, you just don’t know.

Karl: [00:29:20] That’s gotta be. So what are your thoughts on someone thinking of getting into the restaurant? Just finished working at some restaurant, moving into the Metro Atlanta area. Any advice to folks that might be looking to step into it?

Cliff: [00:29:36] You know what, if they’re looking to get a job right now, you know, there are a lot of jobs out there where people are looking for, restaurants are looking for people. You look in the suburbs right now. Suburbs are pretty much doing better than in town. Because a lot of the in town, especially downtown is reliant on the hotels, downtown Atlanta. But the suburbs right now are the places to really find a job. Because the suburbs are coming back a lot more quickly in the restaurant side. Not as much as the hotel, but definitely in the restaurant. It’s coming back more quickly. So the jobs are out there. They’d have to look in the suburbs before they go in town.

Karl: [00:30:09] And as for a career path for someone that wanted to own a restaurant. What types of positions and roles would you recommend someone craft that they wanted to build a career to be an owner of a restaurant one day?

Cliff: [00:30:24] Well, you know, if they wanted to be an owner of a restaurant right there one day, they could probably buy a lot right now.

Karl: [00:30:31] And are they ready?

Cliff: [00:30:33] But they might not be ready. But you know what, it comes down to they have to continue to learn. They have to continue to work at another restaurant. They have to learn from somebody else who’s doing that. And you know, no matter what industry that you’re in, you have to learn and do the job before you actually become an owner of the job. Or owner of the business. So if somebody wants to get into the chef position, they have to learn how to cook. If somebody wants to learn how to do the business side, they have to learn the front of the house stuff. So it’s really important that they still have to be working for somebody to learn from somebody. They can do it in school, but they’re going to learn a lot more on property inside a restaurant.

Karl: [00:31:12] Well, I want to thank you for sharing some of your wisdom and experience navigating through not only just this crazy 2020, but an industry that already has its ups and downs and challenges, and you continue to be successful in all things you do. Anything you have coming up? So what keeps you busy nowadays? What type of stuff you get yourself into?

Cliff: [00:31:36] Man, you know, I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing a lot of pivoting you know. And when we had Nobel Fin, we pivoted to to-go, then we pivoted to online and, you know, ended up closing that. But I started a new company called Hungry Hospitality, which really it’s my main focus now. So I’m working on that and I’m working on these classes called audio business classes. They’re really business classes that are online and there’ll be subscription basis. There’ll be coming out probably sometime in October. And it’s really geared to the hospitality industry, but also the business industry as well. So it’ll be something a little different, but I think it’ll allow people to learn 24/7 and basically download whatever they need. So it should be interesting.

Karl: [00:32:16] Cool. I know a lot of people that would be able to really use some of that wisdom to share.

Rico: [00:32:21] Where can they find, what website can they go to? Where they, where can they find you if they want?

Cliff: [00:32:26] Yeah. Right now all my information is on HungaryHospitality.com. Right now that’s the consulting side. And the consulting side is really working with the restaurants, working with business owners, real estate people, realtors. And you know, a lot of people could use, they always say, man, I never knew this stuff. And you know, the nice part is if they want to learn how to open up a business, it’s better to have somebody who has already done it then trying and making all those mistakes and costing them a lot of money when somebody can guide them to it and help them immediately.

Karl: [00:33:01] Oh, absolutely. It makes perfect sense. Well, I want to thank you Cliff Bramble with Hungry Hospitality, local business leader. And I just want to thank you personally, for all the things you did in the community. Bread you were giving away during the time just being a voice.

Rico: [00:33:21] How many pounds of?

Cliff: [00:33:22] I was making that in the back kitchen and having a good time.

Rico: [00:33:25] You came up with 400 pounds of dough or more,

Cliff: [00:33:28] I think in total, almost 800 pounds of dough. But it was good, you know what I mean? It was a good time, the people enjoyed it. And you know what? I think that the people needed something like that. And, you know, you have to do something like that and get back to the community because the local people are the ones that helped you out in the first place.

Karl: [00:33:44] Well, I want to thank you. You’re a great example for the community and continue to wish you all luck on some of your new endeavors. Well, for today, I want to thank everybody for joining the Capitalist Sage. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors of Atlanta Peachtree. Our business is to help business owners figure out what comes next in life,
whether they are looking to exit the business, sell, whether they’re looking to acquire a business to grow through acquisition or through franchising. We help people realize those dreams. You can reach us at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Rico, what do you have coming up?

Rico: [00:34:23] Sure. Well, I’m Rico Figliolini. I have MightyRockets.com and we’re a social media content creation company. But I also publish Peachtree Corners magazine so that’s six times a year. Keeps me busy. Talking about passion, I love doing this stuff. I have great writers with me. We’re working on the next issue right now. So part of that is pets and their people. We’re going to be running a, we’re launching a giveaway next week on that. We’re also doing, asking people to give us what they’re thankful for. So our hopes are accumulating 50 people and what they feel they’re thankful for this year. Besides family and friends, we’re all thankful for that. But what else are you thankful for? So you want to get a sense of what that is in Peachtree Corners. We’re curating that and putting that in the magazine. And we’re also wanting to be doing a bunch of other things, including backyard retreats. So we’re profiling five of those. Really some great looking backyard retreats that people can go to. There’s one place, I forget how many acres it is, smack in the middle of Peachtree Corners, has its own rapevines and place to just hang out. It’s kind of a neat place. That’s one of the places, but we’re doing all that. So and these family of podcasts we’re doing. Because you’re the heavy lifting, scheduling everyone on these podcasts and it’s kind of cool. You’re bringing in really good interesting people. Cliff this hour, this half hour was really, really good learning about you and the business. So all that, and we’re fortunate to have Hargray Fiber as a sponsor of these podcasts. So if anyone wants to find out a little bit more about what’s going on in Peachtree Corners or any of the podcasts we do go to LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com and you’ll be able to find out all sorts of things.

Karl: [00:36:15] So I want to mention one more thing as we wrap up today. It’s great having folks like Cliff and other business owners all over the community, because I don’t know if a lot of children get to see business owners. They go in patron in the business, but they don’t know the people in the community that do it and some of these things. And so if this helps to prepare the next generation to be great business owners, small business owners I think, it’s going to drive the economy. So, this is a joy for us to do and we want folks to follow us on Facebook. And on Facebook, is it Living in Peachtree Corners?

Rico: [00:36:53] Well, it’s Peachtree Corners Life on Facebook. So if you like the page, right, and you’ll get alerts for it. If you go to YouTube and you search Peachtree Corners Life. Subscribe there and you’ll also get an alert because we’re doing these things live to YouTube simultaneously if we don’t get dropped. So I think we went about 27 minutes before we got dropped. So the full version will be up after this.

Karl: [00:37:17] Awesome. And then the website?

Rico: [00:37:20] Well, the website is LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. and on Instagram, we’re Capitalist Sage so check it out.

Karl: [00:37:29] Absolutely. Well, thank you everyone for tuning in and thanks Cliff again. Take care of everyone. Have a great day, everyone.

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Business

How an Adult and Senior Care Service Pivoted their Business During COVID19

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Aysha Cooper

How did one company choose to adapt and pivot their business and stay relevant, during COVD-19? In this episode of the Capitalist Sage, Karl Barham and Rico Figliolini are joined by Aysha Cooper, the owner of McKinley Caregiver Resource Center in Snellville, Georgia. In the world of Senior Healthcare, professionals are looking for answers on how to pivot in business. Aysha has found some great solutions to the problems of today.

Resources:

Phone: (678) 691-1610
Website: ​https://mckinleyga.com
Social Media: @McKinleyGA

“And the one thing that we want to assist families with is being proactive versus reactive. You know, a lot of times we will get calls in crisis mode and then you’re struggling to pull all these pieces together. So it is how can we give them the tools to plan and prepare properly.”

Aysha Cooper

Where to find that topic in the podcast:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:52] – About Aysha and the Center
[00:04:53] – Initial Thoughts
[00:05:49] – Continuing Care After Shut-Down
[00:08:05] – Pausing to Reflect
[00:13:03] – Industry Changes
[00:19:56] – Technical Aspects
[00:24:32] – Sharing Advice
[00:28:07] – Closing

Podcast transcript:

Karl: [00:00:30] Welcome to the Capitalist Sage Podcast. We’re here to help bring you advice and tips from seasoned pros and experts to help you improve your business. I’m Karl Barham with Transworld Business Advisors. And my co host is Rico Figliolini with Mighty Rockets, Digital Marketing, and the publisher of the Peachtree Corners magazine. Hey Rico, how are you doing today?

Rico: [00:00:52] Hey Karl, good. Good. Beautiful day outside.

Karl: [00:00:55] It is, it is. Why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about our sponsors today?

Rico: [00:01:00] Sure. Our lead sponsor is Hargray Fiber. They’re a fiber optics company that supplies some of the fastest internet that you’ll see out there in the marketplace. They’re a southeast company that provides, here in the community and Peachtree Corners specifically. High end fiber for businesses, whether you’re small or enterprise size, doesn’t matter, they will provide the tools to do smart office with. We have to be connected to your teleworking staff, to your business. It doesn’t matter which it is, and they’ll create bundles and create packages for you to make you work the best you can in this COVID environment. So go check them out. HargrayFiber.com or Hargray.com/business and check their current promotion of a thousand dollar visa gift card for those that become qualified clients. So check them out. They’re our sponsor.

Karl: [00:01:52] Alright. Thank you. Well, I know a lot of people are doing homeschooling and so fiber optics is becoming a really important part of the landscape for every week. But today I am happy to bring our guest Aysha Cooper who is the owner of McKinley Caregiver Resource Center in Snellville, Georgia in Gwinnett. We’re here to talk a little bit about, how businesses are navigating the pandemic in 2020, she operates, works with the elderly and operate various resources and services to help support that community. And she’s here to share a little bit about her background, her journey in that business, and hopefully share how other business owners can continue to evolve their business as things change. How are you doing today?

Aysha: [00:02:49] I’m good Karl. How are you?

Karl: [00:02:51] I’m doing fabulous. Why don’t you tell everybody a little bit about yourself and how you got into your business?

Aysha: [00:02:59] Okay. Well about, almost 12 years ago, we launched an adult daycare center in Snellville, Georgia. And we have grown over the last 12 years, of course, from three participants to almost 45 to 50 a day. No vans to three vans, three employees to 20 employees. And, then the pandemic happened. So, but we have a love for our senior community and still want to be able to be here to provide care for them and their caregivers. But that is, that was the nuts and bolts of our business since 2010.

Karl: [00:03:41] Oh, so why don’t you, for folks that may not be familiar, what are some of the services and things you provided for our senior citizens and elderly and in the center?

Aysha: [00:03:53] Okay. Adult daycare centers are a day center for primarily seniors that can’t stay safely in their home. But it’s also providing peace of mind to their loved one, caregiver, maybe an adult child. If it’s an adult child that adult child may still work. If it’s a spouse, they may just need a couple of days, where they can go run errands with, you know, without their loved one with them. And so what we provide at the day center or provided at the day center was activities that were specific to stimulating them. You know, especially if they had a cognitive impairment, then we would provide activities, meals throughout the day. But we also had a medical oversight with, because we were an RN supervised center.

Karl: [00:04:53] So, I know most people know that when the pandemic came around, it really impacted elderly community. And those were some of the most at risk population. What did you think when you started hearing about COVID-19 back in probably late February or early March. Did you know who’s going to have the impact is going to have?

Aysha: [00:05:17] Oh, no. I mean, when we shut down, we shut down Wednesday, March 18th and I’ll never forget it. It came so fast. And, you know, maybe it was slowly turning and other people were able to be more on top of it than we were, but we knew people were still in crisis. And so we wanted to provide the care as long as we could. But once, you know, it was a state shutdown, then we had to make the choice to shut down. But we thought we would be back in a couple of weeks.

Karl: [00:05:49] Yeah. So what were the options to the family members of the caregivers once, you know, the center wasn’t available and open? What were some of the things that people were having to do to continue to give care and support to their loved ones?

Aysha: [00:06:06] Well to keep people safe just as we have done, most people have to hibernate in their homes. And, you know, they have the longest stay at home order and it changed often. You know, first it was 30 days away, and then all of a sudden it just kept getting pushed back. So, these people are still at home and doing the best they can with their loved one.

Karl: [00:06:30] So that raises an interesting question. I’m sure you keep in contact with others and in the same industry, same business. What were some of the things that people were doing and what are things that people are doing now in their businesses that specialize in caring for the elderly?

Aysha: [00:06:50] Well, you know, even the, you would have thought that people may still needed services. But I do know that it impacted the home health industry as well. People didn’t want individuals in their home, which is understandable. One thing that we did to pivot was, or at least just keep their loved one engaged, keep them stimulating with their loved one mental
stimulation, is we provided activity packets, we had to do that through our Facebook page. And we did send out an email to families. We had a pastor that’s been coming to our center, providing devotion. I had been open six months and he came and blessed us and had been providing devotion with our participants for all that time. So he also provided us a devotion to share with them. You know, and that was just ways that, you know, to help people stay mentally healthy, hopeful, and engaging. But it was very limited of what we could do, especially not being able to go in people’s homes.

Karl: [00:08:05] So once you’re in this situation and you can’t, you’re not allowed to reopen the center yet at that time, what were some of the things you were thinking of as the options? Walk us through some of the options that you might’ve considered, even if you didn’t go down that path. And what were some of the, what are some of the options you’re you’ve explored pursuing?

Aysha: [00:08:27] Well, to be honest Karl when it first happened, I was in my own space of mental clarity. You know, finding mental clarity. You know, letting go of 20 employees and almost 80 families that don’t have care right now. I mean, you can imagine the weight that someone has to carry with that and it being out of your control. So, I had to really just sit with that for, and it took me a couple of months before I could figure out what I really wanted to do or how we were going to pivot. But sometimes rest is the best place to get clarity. And so I got plenty of it for two months. You know, whether it was, you know, depression or just overwhelmed and, you know, a lot of fatigue, emotionally drained. But I woke up from that with a great perspective. I say, you know, God gave me a good download of how to move forward.

Rico: [00:09:37] You know, it’s funny. I’ve heard this, this remark about how covered has paused people’s lives, right? How they become more in tuned with their kids, with their family, because they’re forced to be in the same area, same place. And even how some people look at their work in their job and it gives them that forced retreat like you just mentioned. Where you’re able to look at life and what you’ve been doing, where you would not have been able to do that before, right? I mean, would you have been able to just sit down and say, you know what, I needed a three day weekend retreat, and just see what I’m doing with this business. Would you have done that before?

Aysha: [00:10:17] You said a three day or like two months retreat? Yeah, with just me and my son here doing digital learning and you’re right. You know, It’s interesting. A lot of people have, you know, you see posts and it’s unfortunate that people are going through this and it’s not been well for them. For me, I just wanted to find, the clarity in how to pivot in a positive way. And it’s allowed me to do that, allowed me to be with my family, like you said, Rico. And I’ll explain that with some of the services that we have launched. But that’s, those are the things that we can’t ever get back. Those moments.

Karl: [00:11:06] It’s true. Yeah. We, I noticed a lot of small business owners, when this started were not sure what to do cause they came so fast. And we had introduced a bridge plan to
people to just simply figure out your breakeven. Figure out how to reduce expenses that make sense for most people. We wanted them to figure out how to increase income and then that’s kind of stabilizing the base. The part that folks started struggling with is one, what kind of conversation, we called it disclosed. What kind of conversations do you need to have with your employees, if they had questions? Your clients and your customers, with your community, how do you stay engaged with them while no one knew how long you were going to be closed and what was going to happen. But then as people started to push their way out of this, it got back to G, get working. Get out there, start, don’t just sit in the turtle shell. But you know, your competitors and other people are doing that. And the ones that started hustling, working, figuring out so many new business models were being created. So many innovative ways to maintain their business, offer new services, find new clients. And the E, the last part of the bridge plan E, was talking about excelling and how do they prep themselves to excel going into the future. Now I know we’ve chated a little bit. How do you see the industry changing that you’re in and what opportunities do you think that you can start moving into to help service that client base that you had, but in a different way, with social distancing, and masks and all of these things that’s creating these barriers.

Aysha: [00:13:03] And, to mention the technical challenge with the population we serve. So we’re still a little bit, but it’s providing care for them in a different way. And that’s what we are doing. And so, when I woke up from my slumber, it was, I have a building, I have a commercial kitchen, I have vehicles, what can I do with it? And that’s what we started working towards was how can we use what we have? You know, to your point about cashflow and cutting back expenses and things like that. You know, it’s even though you’re reinventing the wheel, you still have to be cautious of the investment because of the limited cashflow. And so I had to make sure I was using what I had. And so that’s what we did and we started a home delivered meal service first that was just developed to provide meals for our previous families that were enrolled in the program. Because again, no one thought that this would last that long. So we still had all of their belongings at our center. So that was our way of just seeing them and being able to say hello, take them their belongings, take them a meal. Put our eyes on them. We tried to social distance as much as possible, but that’s hard to do when you have a center full of love and hugs, you know?

Karl: [00:14:45] Yeah.

Aysha: [00:14:46] But we’re moving forward and just looking at what is the need. And the need right now is caregivers are at home and they need support. They don’t get the respite care that they used to get anymore.

Rico: [00:15:08] And you find that, are you finding it easy enough to work with them to be able to do, with the caregivers? You know, with the existing care caregivers I’m assuming.

Aysha: [00:15:21] Is it easy to work with them?

Rico: [00:15:24] Right.

Aysha: [00:15:29] Yeah. It’s easy to work with them. You know, they’re at home. They don’t mind that phone call. They’re glad to have it.

Karl: [00:15:39] So if I hear, if I understand right, a caregiver would drop off their loved one at the center. They’re able to go to work. They are able to do other things and so on. And the center and your staff is able to fulfill different care needs that they might need. And so now that they’re also the primary caregiver and they don’t have that option. Are you describing a system where you support the caregiver? Arm them with the skills, experiences, tools to provide better care for their loved ones while they’re having to be the primaries to do that for the foreseeable future?

Aysha: [00:16:25] Yeah. Ultimately it will be a caregiver resource center. Where we have vetted resources that are available to them all in one place. Because right now it’s very fragmented. And which could discourage anyone from trying to find the resources and the care that they need. So it’s having a compiled list of care providers, vendors that want to support the caregiver. Within the center though, we’ll be able to provide some events, but we’ll have a limited attendance with the virtual component because there’s still a lot of people, you know, that aren’t coming out. But we want them to still be able to participate. And, what we will do is have events around self care. But also have experts speak to them on how to continue to care for themselves, a health care professional. And then there’s some education, that I have trained. One is powerful tools for caregivers and the other is dealing with dementia. Both I was certified through the Roslyn Carter Institute, because they do a great job at providing the education and the tools. So we’ll just be able to bring that to them. And again, still have both components an in person and virtual option for that. So I wanted to be that one place that you can go to and find your, what’s gonna equip you as a caregiver to better take care of your loved one.

Rico: [00:18:09] You know, that’s interesting because when my, God bless them they passed away, my inlaws lived with us, my wife had to find services. She had to call a dozen different places in the state of Georgia, different services, different senior services and stuff. And there was not one place that she could pull these things together from. There were individuals, that would say sometimes you could go here, go visit this website. But not someone that can actually do it for them or become the concierge. If you will, of senior care, to be able to provide that service to her. She had to do all the leg work. And it was I’m sure for everyone, it’s almost like reinventing it every single time, but it sounds like you are able to not only provide some of the services, right, but also be able to pull it together for them. I would imagine.

Aysha: [00:19:05] You know, these are things that we did for the family caregiver that was dropping their loved one off anyway. You know, if they came in with questions or needed assistance with something, then it was our job to find it for them. You know, because this is a challenging moment, you know, when you are taking care of a loved one with a cognitive or physical impairment and either you’re still working, you’re not taking care of yourself. And so it’s
not that we don’t want to take care of our senior, because we love our senior gems, but we do also understand the burden of caregiving and we want people to relieve themselves of the guilt and take care of their own mental health.

Karl: [00:19:56] I think you’re highlighting something really important for folks to think of. In the past year there’s been several business owners that I know that either had to sell their business or consider stepping away from it to care for a loved one. And when they didn’t know what options were available to them, they thought the only thing they can do is to shut down their business or to sell it. And, you know, as I started learning about the services that were offered, just more people being aware that there are options there that people could leverage that could help them with that, help them get the answers. But I would remember some folks spending hours and days going to the wrong place for the wrong information, struggling through that. And I love this idea of a center where this information is happening. And sometimes people could plan ahead. If you know, a family member is moving to town and has needs, you could start the training. You could start educating, start pulling those resources together. Especially as people tend to leave the cold of the north than move down south more. That’s something that happens and it’s hard to find good places where you can get that information and get that support and help. So I think you’re tapping in. I’m curious though, you know, every other business, restaurants started Ubering and different doctors are doing virtual appointments. How do you see technology playing a role in this? And how is there a specific thing that you have adapted to what you used to do live or in person, but have shifted leveraging technology in some way?

Aysha: [00:21:49] Well, we will have to of course have the virtual component. So we’re still working on that. I have a little bit of time, you know, we are figuring things out still. But putting down our systems and foundations and making sure we launch correctly. We’re still here to help in the meantime, but yeah, we’ll have to. And see in our challenge will be as not just being able to provide the virtual component, but then ensuring that the person on the other end has access to that.

Karl: [00:22:24] Yeah. Knowing how to receive it. Well, I know there’s a large scale experiment happening in the school system right now. Where they’re figuring out how to digitally learn and do things digitally. Just recently ordered are these pads where kids could write and draw on and it translates over to their computer. And that would normally be, it’s up to you if they could have the luxury. But now, I’m already seeing how the kids are learning digitally is starting to transform. So I’m a little scared of what the future is going to look like because we’re going to have really fully, digitally native kids that are learning once we get through this period of transition.

Aysha: [00:23:10] But thank goodness we have the platform, because if we didn’t even have the platform to build off of, we would have been in real dire straights.

Karl: [00:23:20] Absolutely. But I think you’re highlighting, we’ve been focusing on the kids. And maybe we need to expand that focus to the elderly and what services can be delivered digitally
and how do we help them cross that gap more effectively. But I could see people showing up and helping people navigate, you know, virtual reality, augmented reality, possibly and all sorts of cool technologies with new applications.

Aysha: [00:23:52] Yes. You know, I do want to, you said something interesting earlier about, helping families prepare. And the one thing that we want to assist families with is being proactive versus reactive. You know, a lot of times we will get calls of in crisis mode and then you’re struggling to pull all these pieces together. So it is how can we give them the tools to plan and prepare properly.

Karl: [00:24:32] What would you advise someone? If I had a family member that was, let’s say relocating to town, and what will be things that loved ones and children could do earlier to prepare. If they know that in the upcoming weeks or months or year, they may have to care for a loved one. What are some of the suggestions you’d give folks?

Aysha: [00:24:56] Well, I think sometimes people have to make that decision and their house isn’t ready for the parent. I mean, one of the first questions is how will mom or dad be able to navigate throughout the house if they are using a walking device. But even before that, we had a lot of adult children. You know, whether it’s, you don’t have the choice or not, there still needs to be a certain level of sensitivity to it. Especially when you’re moving a parent from their town, their friends, their church, everything that they know to a whole new environment. And so you have to be sensitive to their mental health and wellbeing. So it’s how can you get and keep them engaged and involved, no matter what stage it is. So, you know, if they are a fairly independent senior, but just can’t stay safely in their home out of town anymore, you know, how can you keep them engaged in the community? That stimulation helps people with cognitive impairment. It gives them meaning. So we need that. They don’t want to just sit in someone’s home. So it’s researching, first of all, you know, is your house equipped, but then what is in your community that can keep your parent or loved one involved. You know?

Karl: [00:26:33] That makes perfect sense. I like to think that, you know, there are resources out there that can help guide people through this. I’m always curious of, have you come across any instances where you know, you see people really do a great job of preparing that and stepping through that. Are there, is there a trigger or things that people might do and conversations they have with their parents sooner? How do you, how do they even begin that conversation?

Aysha: [00:27:11] You know, that’s a tough one, Karl. Because first of all, you find out how collective your siblings are and who’s the actual care, the financial burden. You know, we always recommend having a family meeting prior to. You know, so that you can identify which siblings are willing to take on what. But yeah, you and I both know those are tough conversations to have with your parents and they aren’t the generation of just sharing.

Karl: [00:27:47] Right. Yeah.

Aysha: [00:27:50] I think more importantly is what can we do now as we sit in our generation to make sure our kids don’t have to go through what some of the adult children are going through now.

Karl: [00:28:07] Very, very good point. Well, I tell you, it’s been fascinating listening to another business owner who’s journeyed through this. And, but I am really excited seeing how you’re figuring out new ways to serve the community and your clients and the families, the family members of those clients there. And as you continue evolving, I definitely want to keep in touch and just learn how it’s coming along. But if folks wanted to just learn more about this and learn what you’re doing, how can they reach out to you and learn more?

Aysha: [00:28:45] Well, we are still in our same place in Snellville. We sit directly behind the Lowe’s off of scenic highway, so they can always find us there. Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. But a phone call, I know people aren’t just getting out. So they can also give us a phone call at (678) 691-1610. And then follow us on Facebook at McKinley GA.

Karl: [00:29:18] Fabulous. Do you have anything coming up, that in the upcoming month or any, what do you have coming up for the community that you’ve made that they participate in?

Aysha: [00:29:29] Well, we are going to kick off and we will have this on our Facebook page. We’re going to kick off in October National Family History day. So the whole month of October, we’ll be surrounded around family history and learning about your family history and what you’re leaving as a legacy. And then in November, it’s National Caregivers Month. And that’s when we will have our ribbon cutting. So they can find that information on the Gwinnett Chamber website.

Karl: [00:29:59] Perfect. Perfect. Well, I want to thank you. Aysha Cooper, owner of McKinley Caregiver Resource Center in Snellville, Georgia, right behind the Lowe’s on scenic highway here in Gwinnett. And if you are interested in reaching out to her, you’ll see some of the ways to contact her on the website and the show notes for today. So I just want to thank you for sharing your journey through this. And I think you could serve as an inspiration if there was an industry that was hit hard by this, it would definitely yours. And taking the pause, which people need to do for themselves as well as to strategize. One good tip, and then really figuring out different ways to serve the community, putting a plan in place and going out there and doing it. That’s what I love about small businesses. They’re forced to be creative, to innovate quickly, fast. And they’re able to do that, and that’s why it helps drive our economy. So thank you for that and sharing today. I also want to thank our sponsor, Hargray Fiber, who continues to sponsor the family of podcasts. Rico, the podcast, that we currently have going, what do we have coming up on those.

Rico: [00:31:19] On the other podcasts? Well the Ed Hour is in, we’re looking for a guest right now to talk about COVID and the school opening. So we’re going to be scheduling something in the next few weeks on that. And how that’s working for private as well as public schools. And, for Peachtree Corners Life we have a few things in the works for that we’re going to be putting
together. But I know the Capitalist Sage has several more. We’re looking at the former owner of Noble Finn, Cliff Bramble. Also have a podcast Friday morning, actually that we were putting together with Link Dental Care, and Dr. Shyn that’s going to tell them about how the dental business took a hit pretty much during this COVID. But also on how they had to deal with work. You know, if you have it too thick, you really have to find the right dentist that can always do the right job safely for you. So yeah, a lot of good stuff.

Karl: [00:32:14] We have some marketing experts coming, joining us too later on in September, as well as working on some guests to talk to people about how to navigate their decisions around their businesses as COVID-19 is happening and everything else. So we’ll continue to do some of those really interesting things. The magazine Rico?

Rico: [00:32:40] Magazine’s out. I mean, it’s been out for a week. We had a great cover. Great story hit 19,000 plus homes, their mailboxes. So happy to be able to get that out. We are working on the next issue. So nothing ever dies here, right? The deadline continues. We’re putting out a pet issue for the next issue. But we’re also putting, so it’s going to be a pets and their people as a pullout in the magazine. We’re also looking at great backyard retreats because everyone’s sort of still stuck at home in a way they may not be traveling, but maybe your backyard is the best place to be for that time when you’re home. And we’re looking at pulling together a feature story about getting several dozen people or more, almost 50 people sharing what they’re thankful for this time of year. Even in this time of COVID-19, you know, we’re all thankful for our families, for close friends that we have. But what else are you thankful for? You know, and that’s what we’re trying to get, and we’re going to curate all that together and publish that in the next issue as well. So that’s, it’s going to be a good packed issue with a lot of stuff we’re working on. And that’ll be out the first week of October, which it seems like a long time from now, too. So I dunno, it’s going fine.

Karl: [00:34:02] And since you’re one of the hardest working with people in Peachtree Corners when you’re not putting out a magazine and when you’re not doing a podcast, what do you spend your time doing?

Rico: [00:34:13] Mighty Rockets where we produce those podcasts. We have the magazine, we do a lot of the social media product videos. A variety of things online. So digital content, producing blog posts and all that stuff. Pretty much, we find, we work with clients, see what they need. And then we put together a package that works for them. Because you know, you know how it is. Not every client needs the same toolbox or the same tool. You don’t need a hammer on everything. So we look and see what the client has and where we can help them to get further along in thier, especially in their online reach right now.

Karl: [00:34:49] Well, I definitely recommend. I said, I definitely recommend that people think about ways to market their business differently. We’ve moved to a virtual world and all of the things are evolving and getting your message out about the new things that you’re doing in your
business is really important. So figuring out how to do that and getting experts to help you with that is going to be really important.

Rico: [00:35:13] And Karl, you are the man though, that if someone’s looking for an exit plan or someone was looking to get into a new business, I mean, you’re the guy. So, you know, why don’t you tell everyone about how you work that also.

Karl: [00:35:27] Yeah, Transworld Business Advisors, where we help people with finding the businesses to buy, we help people that are in an existing business looking how to sell it the best way to do that, and more importantly, just help people planning through that. At the end of the day the best way for a business owner is to have a plan on how they want to exit, and we can help them walk them through that. We do evaluations for people. We help them consult on their business and you can reach us at www.TWorld.com/AtlantaPeachtree. Our office is in Atlanta Tech Park, so you can stop by there and chat with us. And we continue to want to serve the business community by producing and sharing these Capitalist Sage podcasts with folks so you can follow us on all of your streaming platforms, iTunes, you can follow us on Facebook, iHeartRadio. And the last thing I’ll say for today is we’re sitting here at the end of August in a few months. There’s a really important time coming up. And we just encourage everyone register to vote. It may be a little bit different this year. So if you want to request absentee ballots go on the secretary of state website and request that. A lot of the polling places will be open by now where that is. And this is a year where you should definitely participate in political process and make your voice heard. This country is going through a lot right now and every voice should be counted and we need to help support people to be able to do that, so.

Rico: [00:37:01] Or that if you’re going to be doing that mail in ballot, do it early. Don’t wait until the week before, because they ain’t going to be counted.

Karl: [00:37:08] So that’s right.

Rico: [00:37:09] Do it early on. Do it now, request that ballot now and put it out as soon as possible.

Karl: [00:37:16] Absolutely. Well, thank you everybody for joining us on the Capitalist Sage Podcast. Everyone be safe and be blessed. Take care.

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