One year ago this week, Donna Laster and Leasha Price opened their Shallowford Road deli.
Laster responded to an ad to buy a business that listed hours from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
That seemed doable, she thought. Little did the duo know that running a business is a full-time job.
"It was a big learning curve," Laster, who has a background in advertising and production management, said Thursday.
Friday, the duo will celebrate the one-year mark of Lunch Box Deli with an open house and ribbon-cutting event.
A year into their venture, they have a group of regulars. Some of their staff members start to make a customer's usual order before they are even inside the deli, Laster said.
They have one catering client who keeps them on-call nearly 24/7. And they are looking to add more catering business as they move forward.
Business born out of bad breaks
Laster was laid off from two different jobs, and she searched for other jobs for a while, but it wasn't working out.
So she decided to create her own opportunity and become her own boss, answering the ad she had seen in the paper.
"I contacted my sister-in-law, Leasha, to see if she'd be interested in partnering with me and purchasing the deli, and before we knew it, we got our financing in order and we were signing on the dotted line," Laster said.
Price was unhappy with her employment situation, and it had always been her dream to open a restaurant.
"Owning a restaurant is something I always wanted to do," she said. "I love to cook. It was something my dad and I talked about doing—one of those little dreams that you talk about but you don't ever really do."
Price's parents recently died, and the day she sold her father's house is the day Laster replied to the ad. It felt like it was meant to be, Price said.
Laster and Price each put some money toward the purchase, got a line of credit at Capital Mark Bank and asked for help from Laster's stepfather and mother.
Price's background is in accounting, and the duo said they aren't sure that either person's work history prepared them for running the business.
The previous owner initially planned on staying around for a couple of weeks to help guide them, but she ended up only staying three days.
So the women "jumped right in," Laster said.
The deli's offerings
Their food is fresh and homemade, they said.
Laster and Price offer catering and box lunches—which includes a choice of sandwich, chips, cookie and the potential for an upgrade with two sides.
They have four or five homemade soups each day, sandwich trays and wraps.
They recently hosted a company breakfast at the deli, too.
"We are really customer service-oriented," Laster said. "And our food just speaks volumes. Usually, once somebody comes in and tries us, they are back."
Updated @ 9:14 a.m. on 12/14/12 for clarity.
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