As an entrepreneur, from the beginning, you do everything by YOURSELF! — Before becoming an entrepreneur, I always thought owning your own business was the most significant thing because you could do whatever you want to do, whenever you wanted to do it. I wish someone would have told me as a business owner from the beginning, you do everything and that it’s hard to rely on others to believe in your visions. You are always working, getting no sleep, and wearing many hats to make things happen. Being an owner is a beautiful thing once you get your business on autopilot and make adjustments to where you want your brand and company to remain.
As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rickey Booker, Owner of The Breakfast Brother’s.
Rickey Booker Sr. moved from Oklahoma City to Dallas 25 years ago, starting his entrepreneurial journey. Creating his 1st business in the entertainment industry, managing entertainers, CKB Entertainment was known for classic hip hop music and the most memorable party atmospheres from Texas to Louisiana. CKB Entertainment was such a success for him; he decided to test out the waters in the custom car industry, completing many customized car projects for car lovers all over the US. He was presented with the opportunity to reconstruct and customize a car for well-known Pastor T.D. Jakes, Rickey’s self-taught entrepreneur skills and relationships lead him to yet another successful business venture.
With the success of two companies within different industries, Rickey, known to many as Rick, accepted a bet from a business partner and took on the challenge of creating the well-known & addictive Breakfast Brothers menu. In 2017, The Breakfast Brothers brand was born, and Rick and his team have been making food that fills the soul ever since. Serving over 700 party goers every Friday & Saturday night, as Breakfast Brothers grew, they became a “must visit” attraction for customers traveling to and from the DFW area. Rick created a consistent tasty menu that satisfies the taste buds of customers all over the World. Since Breakfast Brothers’ creation, customers have called the food “addictive” and shocking to their taste buds, waiting in long lines to get their fix.
For over 20 years, Rick has single-handedly managed to grow from a one-person show to managing hundreds of employees through his multiple businesses. Through his successful companies, he has provided opportunities and a positive work environment for his employees to grow and thrive. Rick grew up in the city known for the Black Wall Street; however, he has been a successful and faithful businessman living in the Dallas- Ft. Worth area, raising his children for many years. Rick has and will always be a trusted and respected entrepreneur in the DFW area because of his willingness to provide a satisfying brand for customers and a safe environment for his employees.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
It’s crazy that this is the 1st question you ask; I fought for a long time not to be considered a professional chef. My kids told me years ago; I should open a restaurant. We would have family cookouts and invite all of our friends, introducing them to my food. They became addicted to what I was serving, and for years I tried to veer off the path created for me. I would ignore how happy people were after they had my food and disregard the comments about how I needed to open a restaurant. I was so in love with music, and being in the music industry for so many years, I wanted to follow my dreams within that entertainment industry. I was complacent with what I was doing in the music industry; however, I realized that no matter how hard I worked and how far we got in the music industry, I would never have the wealth I was thriving to support my family. I was addicted to music, but it was not my passion. I had a passion for feeding the soul, and once I realized that I was feeding souls with my food, my wheels stopped spinning, and we created the first restaurant within the Breakfast Brothers franchise.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
When I first started Breakfast Brothers, my most challenging time was having to continually shut down due to not having a clear understanding of the City ordinances and permits. We had so many people coming to enjoy the food each week; with the faithful and consistently growing customer base, there was a high demand for our menu items. Then you had the city code department coming in and shutting us down, stating that we didn’t meet the city requirements, however, never taking the time to educated us on what needed to be corrected to remain open. Yes, they gave us the carbon copy of the violations; however, each time we thought we had fixed the issues, they would shut us down again. We lost a lot of business and had numerous complaints about not being open to satisfy our customers’ taste buds. I came from a background where you just went in the kitchen and cooked, so all of the legality of having a mobile restaurant was foreign to me. Trying to keep a company going that was satisfying so many customers but not having the proper structure and licensing in place for “The Little Black Shack” was extremely hard for my business partners and me.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I had a passion for cooking, and my children would always express how good my food was. I remember their mom and I would have cooking completion; during the meal, they gave all the praises to their mom, however whispering to me that my food was the best, admitted they didn’t want to hurt their mom’s feels. I never paid attention to how good my food was to others. I remember I would laugh because folks who loved our food and could get it at no cost got to a point where they didn’t want it for free anymore; they wanted to pay for the taste. When I could make someone happy by the taste of my food, that gave me the drive every day to keep pushing and continue to offer a flavor that was our Breakfast Brothers style, something the customers loved it. I get up every day because I can put a smile on customers’ faces because our food touches their souls.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
God has blessed us against all odds to open up our 1st Brick & Mordor restaurant with a franchise look. The grit and resilience allowed my business partner and me to learn and grow our business knowledge within the industry and overcome all the obstacles to make sure we were able to keep open and run a successful business. We look back on everything that we went through and laugh because we experienced a lot to get to our “Prize Winner” finally. A “Prize Winner” is a business that you plan, prepare and have patience in building the brand, following all rules and regulations. Our customer addressed their good and bad experiences regarding Breakfast Brothers verbally and on social media. Our customer reviews pushed our whole team in many ways to keep going and provide our customers with what they needed, wanted & desired, which lead to our success and new business adventure.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Well, when you have a team, it can be a struggle to deal with different personalities and experience levels. All of our Breakfast Brothers cooks are trained to understand each mix for the items on the menu. We do all we can to ensure that everything created within the kitchen remains consistent and tasting good. When we first started with the all-purpose seasoning, there was a situation where we were out of garlic powder, and one of our cooks went to the store and bought granulated garlic. I was upset because even though he was trying to help, he stepped out on the ingrediency for the blend. Now, it’s 2 am, and there’s no store open plus, we were preparing for a rush, so we had no other choice but to use the mix. He cooked the 1st batch of chicken, and after tasting it, my first word was WOW; it was better than the original creation. We laughed at the situation after; however, his mistake allowed up to improve our food’s addictiveness. The granulated garlic’s replacement was a funny mistake in the kitchen, which turned into a blessing. I learned that you have to listen to your employees and take into consideration their skills, knowledge, as well as the reasons why you hired them. This mistake gave me the understanding of providing a positive space for the employees to express their opinions and then really consider their views to improve the kitchen’s flow and what’s being prepared for our customers.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Well, I think because we pay attention to what’s going on within our walls and focus on our consistency, it makes us stand out to anyone who visits our location and tastes our food. With all of the businesses I have established, honestly, I never paid attention to the competition. I always focus on what I wanted to provide to my particular clientele rather than what other companies were doing. The uniqueness of Breakfast Brothers, from the flavors to the taste of the food, allows us to cater to a particular clientele. We are always sticking to what we do best and making people happy with the food we cook, truly feeding the soul. There are so many restaurants all over; however, it is the value of what we bring to your clientele that allows them to tell others about their Breakfast Brother experience. We tend to set trends and not copy other brands, so in exchange, our customers continue to fall in love with our consistency and grow with the brand. I remember this time when one of our faithful customers was getting booked into the county jail late on a Friday night, and he overheard the employees talking about where to find some good food so late. He interrupted & told them about Breakfast Brothers and recited the phone number so they could place an order. That night the county employees placed their order, and they became faithful customers ordering ten plus catfish baskets each Friday night. Word of mouth advertising works for Breakfast Brothers because our clients know what to expect when they place an order, addictive food that feeds the soul.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Love what you do! What burns out is the individual, and once your team feels that energy, they will lose the drive and create lousy energy throughout your business. When I’m having a bad day, I stay out of the kitchen, and we do the same when it comes to our cooks. I would rather tell a cook to go home instead of allowing their bad energy to affect the food’s taste. You have to love what you are doing-especially with cooking. Cooking is 100% passion; you can’t like something about it; you have to love everything about it. Energy flows through the food, so if our cooks are having a bad day, they can’t focus on preparing the food, and that’s when our customers can recognize the difference in the taste. When there is bad energy in the kitchen, it creates a bad vibe, and that’s how mistakes happen. Burnouts start from the top of organizations, if the work environment is positive, you will encourage positively within your employees, and in turn, your clients will have a positive experience.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I have to first start with God; without him, I wouldn’t have the direction. Once he gives us our focus, we have to follow his lead then everything will fall in place. He gave me the mindset and the strength to keep pushing however my business partner is the one who gives me the drive. I’m older than him, so he looks up to me as an uncle; however, he always tells me that I have to let go of taking care of others and do for myself. All my life, I’ve provided for my family, mostly focusing on their needs and wants over mine own. Since the beginning of Breakfast Brothers, my business partner has been by my side, and he continues to give me the insight for a younger perspective. He always tells me that when we are investing, the investments are made to profit; this is a prime reason I started focusing on the Breakfast Brother brand. When we 1st began Breakfast Brothers, our mission was to provide a small menu to our nightclub patrons. Every weekend we were getting complaints about the food to the point where we were buying food to cook for a few people. I complained to my business partners on multiple occasions that we were paying cooks to cook food, and we were not making any money. Each time I approached them, they would joke around and tell me to do the cooking myself. I was not trying to take on more responsibility; however, I wanted to provide something different to our patrons. The last time I complained, I fired all the cooks and decided to create a menu appealing to the nightclub partygoers, and that would have our customers excited about the Breakfast Brothers food. During this entire time, my business partner was by my side and allowed me to create the addictive menu we have today.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the World?
I feel that with the way things are now in the World, people need to be employed. If we can keep a profitable company and provide jobs no matter what’s going on in the World, that will set us aside from many companies. Providing consistent employment opportunities will give the community faith within our brand to where people can always rely on Breakfast Brothers to have jobs and get good food that feeds the soul. With our plans to open multiple restaurant locations and have numerous food trucks out on the streets, we will provide positive working environments and a consistent brand all of the way around.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- As an entrepreneur, from the beginning, you do everything by YOURSELF!
Before becoming an entrepreneur, I always thought owning your own business was the most significant thing because you could do whatever you want to do, whenever you wanted to do it. I wish someone would have told me as a business owner from the beginning, you do everything and that it’s hard to rely on others to believe in your visions. You are always working, getting no sleep, and wearing many hats to make things happen. Being an owner is a beautiful thing once you get your business on autopilot and make adjustments to where you want your brand and company to remain.
- As an entrepreneur, you must know how regulation & taxes work to remain compliant.
When you work for someone else, all you have to worry about is getting to work, clock in & out, & get a paycheck. I would complain about the IRS taking money from my salary, not realizing as the owner, you have so many more responsibilities from payroll to paying taxes to keeping up with the IRS and other requirements. I wish someone would have told me that the IRS would be the most demanding boss I’ve ever worked with as a business owner. Owning a company means you have to do ten times more work to remain compliant with city, state & federal rules, regulations, and taxes. You have to make sure the business bills are paid, including staff and supplies. I had to understand that we would not be profitable unless we had all of the company’s business tasks completed.
- As an entrepreneur, you have to know how to step back and allow your company to function with employees.
When you have worked so hard on building a brand, it is tough to trust someone to step in to take care of your brand.Working with different personalities and making the adjustment based on the difference allowed our company to run smoothly and made a difference in your success. Having the POWER of knowing everybody isn’t cut for specific positions and realizing the things you will have to face as a business owner were two things I was missing starting. I wish someone would have told me how to understand my powers to let go and allow someone to head my company, running it so I could step back and do other things.
- As an entrepreneur, you have to separate your outside World from the business.
There is no doubt that as you build a company, we all want as many employees to grow with us as possible. Over the years, relationships get more robust, and you grow bounds with longtime employees that sometimes involve personal situations. I wish someone would have told me how to keep those bound with employees without reaching too far into your personal life. Over time different situations happen where I learned lessons and created boundaries always to leave room for my personal life. Creating those boundaries can be challenging; however, you have to make sure you created them so that you don’t get to a point where your employees feel entitled to more than a positive business relationship.
- As an entrepreneur, you have to stay on top of the business and understand your company’s aspects
I had to learn that when you invest in a business or build a company, you have to realize that they need to be educated in the industry, knowing how to dealing with everything within the company, including how things function. When I first started this journey, I wasn’t aware of many things. I wish someone would have told me I had to stay on top of everything going on within the company to remain successful and grow. I had to make sure that I know how to cook, train someone else to cook, food regulations, state and federal taxes, food cost, payroll, how to open and close, and other tasks that go with running a business. Once I figured it out, staying on top of my business allowed me to have a successful company.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I want to create a trend of successfully growing our employees as we grow as a company. I want to educate all of our employees on how to run their own business and train them on all aspects of Breakfast Brothers, Then helping them open up their Breakfast Brothers franchise — assisting individuals in following their real dreams. From becoming an entrepreneur to a professional chef, allowing our employees to reach their goals, and providing Breakfast Brothers employees a chance to become partners and owners of their location, creating hundreds of restaurant locations worldwide. While at the same time, growing the Breakfast Brother brand to where it is one of the strongest and consistent breakfast, lunch, and dinner locations in the World. No different than Waffle House or Denny’s, The Breakfast Brothers would, from a consumer standpoint, be a go-to restaurant from here to San Diego for customers to enjoy our consistent and additive taste that feeds the soul.
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!