Business Story: The Original New Orleans Po-Boy and Gumbo Shop, Austin

Darold Gordon was well positioned to open his popular restaurant in Austin, Texas. He learned how to create Cajun Cuisine at the age of seventeen in New Orleans, setting him up to be an entrepreneur. Here’s how he’s weathering the economic fallout from the pandemic and rebuilding.

Darold worked his way up in the food service business, becoming first a Chef and then the Executive Chef at a Planet Hollywood location. Darold learned his business skills managing the front and back of the house. He started a successful restaurant, however Hurricane Katrina wiped it away and he had to close. He moved with his family to Austin and purchased a food truck offering his New Orleans style food unique to the city. Within 6 months, he purchased another food truck followed by opening his 1st brick and mortar location - The Original New Orleans Po-Boy and Gumbo Shop, LLC.

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Darold was one of four recipients of the SmartBiz® Boost a Small Business in Need Grant Program created to empower Black and minority-owned businesses in Austin and San Francisco.

Like countless others, his small business has been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve experienced a decrease in sales,” says Darold. “We’ve had to lay off employees. Additionally, my restaurant caught on fire in April so we have been operating off of a generator. We are only open for to go orders and are barely staying afloat”

The SmartBiz grant was put in place to help small businesses like Darold’s.

“It was a blessing for us. We were able to pay a maintenance worker who has been performing much needed fixes for the restaurant. We would like to continue serving good authentic Cajun food to the community of great people in Austin and surrounding areas.”

Darold has been able to keep staff on – with his family helping to hold it down. They hired two employees back who are cooking out of the food trucks due to the fire damage.

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Darold self-funded his business – starting everything from scratch. He did not receive a PPP loan and doesn’t anticipate needing working capital or debt refinance funds anytime soon. He does want to explore a commercial real estate loan.

“One of my goals right now is to own the building I’m currently leasing.”

He wants to get back to featuring live music on the restaurant patio and offering his famous drinks like the Frozen Daiquiri Hurricane.

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“I also want to keep building the business and hire more employees in the local area.”

Keeping employees is a challenge for all restaurants and Darrold is committed to keeping them working. His business challenges are few due to his extensive management background. “Everything now is fairly routine. I’ve got it down.”

Darold has inspiring advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs: “You definitely have to stay focused and keep dreaming. Be sure to treat everyone with respect,” he suggests. “When you go through tough times, the same people will lift you up.”

Darold has the perfect personal formula to help him achieve his business dreams. “God blessed me with a lovely wife who is my back bone and three daughters. Without them to help with the business, none of this would be possible.”

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