by Denise Chatman
“Food was always my passion. So I was always just waiting for the right opportunity to re-enter the food industry, as an owner, and this was the opportunity that presented itself for me,” said Omar Bailey. Bailey is the owner of the new start-up business, Paula’s Soul Café.
Although Bailey is no stranger to the food service industry, this is his first time venturing in as a restaurant owner. From 1990-1995 Bailey has worked as a member of the food service industry but, in 1995, ventured out to go into business for himself. “I worked for people early on, and realized it’s something that I didn’t like,” said Bailey.
According to Bailey, he has opened and managed “a host of other businesses” but none of the previous businesses were quite like Paula’s. Bailey said, “Of all the businesses that I’ve owned, this is the one that I’m passionate about, everything else was just about money.”
Paula’s Soul Café has been opened in the Bronx since May 16, 2015. Since it’s opening, Paula’s has been providing the community with cuisine that is a rarity in the area, soul food.
Having prior experience with start-up businesses, Bailey already knew the necessary elements needed to make his investment in his latest venture a successful one – location, demographic, timing.
In the Bronx you can find numerous food service businesses owned by a vast number of diverse ethnic groups, all except for African Americans. And, the general response from the community was that if anyone wanted soul food they would have to travel to Harlem to get it.
Bailey saw the need from the people and recognizing the deficit of soul food restaurants in the area, saw the Bronx as the ideal location to open Paula’s.
Currently Paula’s advertising is done through word-of-mouth and via facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PaulaSoulCafe) . But none-the-less Paula’s manages to accumulate an average to above average amount of foot traffic. Sometimes more traffic than the restaurant can handle.
Paula’s Soul Café is a walk-in restaurant with a bar-style eating area that seats four guests and for right now Bailey feels that is all that is needed. Plans for more up-and-coming expansions involve delivery and catering services.
Bailey currently has a one-man delivery service from 12-8pm that delivers to all sections of the Bronx. He later hopes to expand that service to include more drivers.
Once the delivery service is well established Bailey then wants to move on to building his catering service. With this he hopes to provide his customers with party-size quantities of food and a more diverse menu to choose from.
Although Paula’s Soul Café is a soul food restaurant Bailey wants allow the restaurant to adapt to the community’s needs in order to accommodate a broader range of palates.
The plans for delivery and catering, however, are plans for months down the line. For now Bailey believes the restaurant is still too new and for right now should focus on …
Other than the forms of advertising already put in place, the only other promotions done by Paula’s is a “Lunch Special.” The lunch special allows people to order a broader range of food at a cheaper value.
For example as oppose to a standard “Turkey Wing” meal, the lunch special allows a customer to go half and half. Allowing a customer to instead order a “Turkey Wing/Rib” meal for less than they would pay ordering the two meals separately.
Other than the lunch special, no other gimmicks. “The gimmick is just having good food,” said Bailey, “Usually if you have something that is good people are going to patronize your business.”
As of right now the Paula’s Soul Café is open 7 days a week…
Weekdays from 12-9pm and weekends from 12-11pm.
Paula’s is currently staffed by 7 members:
Omar Bailey – Owner
William Joye – Partner
Marcus Ali – Morning Chef
Khalif McBrad – Evening Chef
Tim McCray – Prep Boy
Khadijah Brown – Cashier
Dina Brown – Cashier
Paula’s Soul Café Facebook