Biz Buzz: Local couple open popular okra restaurant after escaping COVID-19 woes in Texas
Do you want to know what’s going on in the East Idaho business scene? We have what you need. Here’s a look at this week’s economic news across the valley.
Texas natives make a living in eastern Idaho with gumbo restaurant
IDAHO FALLS – Living in Idaho Falls was never Brian and Ashley Horner’s plan.
Their story is similar to that of many other families negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. They moved here from Southeast Texas in October 2020 to escape the financial woes of business closures.
Now they own a weekend pickup / delivery business that serves okra. It is a stew-like dish served with sausage and another type of meat like beef, chicken or shrimp, as well as a flour and oil based thickener that includes rice, celery, peppers and onions. They also make Boudin Balls – a breaded Cajun sausage made with ground pork and rice – and other southern dishes for customers in eastern Idaho.
The company is called That Gumbo Guy, and the couple tell EastIdahoNews.com that they couldn’t be happier with the welcome they received.
“It’s rare to say that nine out of 10 times people are really nice. Idaho Falls-Ammon has been very good to us and we hope to be able to stay for a while, ”says Brian with a heavy southerly accent.
Since August, when they were officially launched, very few people even knew what okra was. But it’s really taken off.
Brian says they’re slammed into filling orders every weekend, putting in at least 12 hours a day. They spend Friday evenings and Saturdays preparing and serving food on a first come, first served basis.
“We’re full most Saturdays,” says Brian. “It takes so long to make a good pot of okra. There is a certain point where you can’t get there anymore, otherwise it won’t be as good.
The part-time gig has proven to be a profitable endeavor for Brian, Ashley and their three children as he works to earn a computer science degree online through Purdue University Global.
While they have a lot to do (no pun intended) at the moment, the couple are grateful to make a living halfway across the country after a particularly difficult year.
As businesses closed their doors last year, Brian was in between jobs with no prospects and decided to start school.
“There was nothing holding us back (there), so we just decided to change our lifestyle,” he says. “We came to live here with my mother-in-law, who worked on the site. She always wanted a restaurant. I love to cook and she loved my okra.
There was no place to buy okra at the time, so they decided to open a restaurant and bring it to Gem State.
The Horners are renting space at 3950 South Yellowstone Highway inside former Billman’s Catering to prepare all of their food. After seeing such a formidable response, the duo would like to eventually have their own building.
Yet they know how unstable the industry can be and they are not ready to jump into something “too big too soon”.
“Right now we are only busy with our family. If we move into a full restaurant… we’ll have to hire more staff. It’s definitely a goal, but I want to get it under control to make sure it’s sustainable over the long term, ”says Brian.
And Brian is happy to have something lucrative to fall back on if all goes (pardon the pun) south.
“If that works, I’m okay with putting a computer science degree on the back burner and handing out okra until I can’t take it anymore,” he says.
For now, the Horners are enjoying the great outdoors, clean air and mountains of Idaho and are happy to give their customers a taste of Southeast Texas. From December 17, they will also serve okra at the Labelle Lake Ice Palace, north of Rigby.
Visit the Facebook page to find out more. You can also place an order through Grubhub or call (208) 973-1473.
Organizers are gearing up for the annual Midnight Madness and Light parade in Rigby next month
RIGBY – The Rigby Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the annual Midnight Madness Sale and Light Up Parade on Friday, December 3. The theme for the parade this year is “Christmas Classics: Movies, Music & Stories” and will start at 6:30 am It will start at the Squealers Parking Lot on Rigby Lake Drive and end at Rigby City Park. Floating registrations are now accepted. Contact House Speaker Teresa Anderson at (208) 745-8715 for more information. Midnight Madness will follow immediately with late night shopping and deals.
SPOTLIGHT ON SMALL BUSINESSES
Identifying threats and knowing how to respond to them is at the heart of self-defense training activities.
REXBURG – As a longtime student of bladed weapons, Tae Kwondo, and Jiu-jitsu, Rexburg native Robert Wylie has been teaching self-defense practices for many years.
He and his wife, Catrina, have helped many friends and neighbors in abusive or threatening situations. They believe that self defense or preparation skills are beneficial for everyone, and they want to be able to help more people.
So it made sense when in 2019, they decided to start a company called DPPDefense (Daily Practical Personal Defense) to teach these skills to businesses, schools, church groups and other organizations in the eastern part of the world. ‘Idaho.
In the video above, Robert explains what you can do the next time you encounter a vicious dog.
READ THE FULL STORY HERE.
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