Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Carl Ehlenz, Owner of Betty's Pies, located in Two Harbors, MN, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Betty's Pies is a full-service restaurant that specializes in fruit and cream pies. We are a diner-style restaurant located along the north shore of Minnesota on Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota. We also ship pies anywhere in the U.S. We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and are very popular among tourists that travel to northern Minnesota.
Tell us about yourself
Me and my partner purchased Betty's Pies in 1998 after it went up for sale. I (Carl) moved from the twin cities to Two Harbors to operate the restaurant in May of 1998. We worked out of the original building from 1998 to 1999 and then built a new building at the same location in 2000. We have been here ever since and truly love meeting new people every day and working with such talented staff on a daily basis. We have limited days of operation during the winter months, but the place gets pretty crazy during the summer months. We employ 85-100 people during the summer months. It is an exciting fast moving place during the summer months. We have learned something new almost every day since we bought the place, and that is what makes it such an exciting place to work. The customers, the staff, the weather, and the amount of work that goes into making the place run to make this a fun place to work - although it does get very busy.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Building the customer base, increasing sales, and making this business more of a destination for tourists. It's also been very satisfying hiring, training, and watching the many employees who have worked here over the years and watching them succeed both at the restaurant and as they move on in life. Many of them have kept in touch over the years.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
I never ran a restaurant before I got here, so that was the most challenging - learning inventory, food costing, hiring, training, bookwork, etc., not to mention building a new restaurant in the year 2000, a huge learning curve that was very difficult. I had a lot of support, so that is what carried me through those hard times.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- You have to love what you are doing.
- You have to be dedicated, flexible, and willing to learn continuously.
- Appreciate your employees and vendors and, most of all, take care of your customers. Even if you have no idea what you got yourself into, these three things will carry you through.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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