If you are a thinking about going into the restaurant industry in Philadelphia, the owners of Platinum Grille will steer you in the right direction. Co-owner Rhonda Yancy had some sound advice.
Katika: How did you get into the restaurant business?
Rhonda: It was my ex-husband’s dream. We started out at the Philadelphia Airport, Terminal D under the name Lamberti. We weren’t allowed to change the name we signed under. We we’re there eight years and one year over a lease. In order to re-lease, you had to rebuild your space which meant an out lay of approximately $500k-$700k, so of course we opted not to re-lease. It was very taxing because we were open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., 365 days a year–it was a lot especially with two small children.
Katika: How long has your Chestnut Hill location been operating?
Rhonda: We’re in our 14th year.
Katika: Have you had any other locations?
Rhonda: Lamberti’s was the start then we had one at Franklin Mills Mall which didn’t last long. We were shortly at Shoprite and took over Delilah’s [former blk-owned business] and from there we opened up this location which was just a shell. We built everything. This is our 4th location.
Katika: So what made you keep going, persevere?
Rhonda: My ex-husband got us into a lot of debt with the Franklin Mills location. We did this location to get out of debt.
Katika: What was your motivation to become a business owner?
Rhonda: I’m actually a degreed funeral director, so I originally had a family member (aunt) that was investing in me. I have three college degrees and she paid for all of them. She was going to buy me a funeral home. My ex-husband talked me into going into the restaurant business and my aunt thought it would be successful because it was located at the airport.
Katika: Did you go to an HBCU?
Rhonda: Yes, I graduated from Morgan State University undergrad and graduate. I had a full scholarship for track and field to Howard and Morgan State. I chose Morgan. I got another degree from Gupton-Jones Mortuary School.
Katika: Let’s change gears and tell me how you feel about these statistics. Philadelphia is 45% black, of that only 2% are business owners.
Rhonda: Oh wow! Philly is difficult in terms of taxes, it depends on who you get in the revenue department. Philadelphia tax issues are taxing to black business owners.
Katika: What tips or advice would you give young blacks who are considering being an entrepreneur?
Rhonda: You have to work in your field…start from the bottom and work your way up, get a good accountant and a good role model/mentor in the field you’re planning to make your livelihood.