Catering to Success: Insights from Pam Fisher

Today on the Kanawha Valley Hustlers podcast I’m at Valley Cakes Cafe and Catering with Pam Fisher. The room we’re in is filled with pink, flowers, and teacups. It’s a bit frilly for my taste, but there’s a charm to it. Pam tells me this is their tea room, where they host tea luncheons daily. They cater to bridal showers, baby showers, and even casual lunches. Pam loves this room.

The restaurant itself has a full menu. They offer sandwiches, a salad bar, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and much more. Besides the cafe, they have a catering service and an event space that holds over 160 people. This space has hosted business training events, celebrations of life, weddings, and other gatherings. Pam has been at this location since February, but she’s been in business for five years, starting out in Valley Park.

I ask Pam how she got started, as many of my listeners are new entrepreneurs. Pam explains that she initially had a partner with a solid plan. When they dissolved their partnership, she decided to continue on her own, using the equipment she had. She’s faced many challenges along the way, especially in the early days.

One of the toughest parts, she says, is dealing with negative feedback on social media. Instead of addressing issues directly, some people choose to criticize online. Fortunately, Pam has received valuable advice from friends, which has helped her navigate these challenges. Despite the difficulties, Pam and her team strive to do their best every day and treat others as they would like to be treated.

Pam mentions their unique menu item, the Wimpy John. Named after a mayor, it’s like a hot dog but with a twist—a donut with cream and powdered sugar. This item is quite popular among their customers.

Catering is a significant part of their business. They’ve catered for the Secretary of State, Chris Warner, and other notable clients. Catering provides an important revenue stream for them, which is crucial for any small business. Pam emphasizes the importance of diversifying revenue streams to ensure stability and growth.

Pam talks about the transition from a home-based business to a commercial space. It’s a big step, involving rent, licenses, insurance, and more. She recently received a $565 bill just for the health department license. Besides these costs, there are employees and worker’s comp to manage. Pam urges people to support local businesses, recognizing the hard work and expenses involved.

We discuss how people often complain about the cost of fast food. Pam points out that for a similar price, you can get a fresh, quality meal at her cafe. The atmosphere is welcoming, and you never know who you might meet. Local figures like the Kanawha County sheriff have been known to drop by.

As we wrap up, I ask Pam for advice for those thinking about entering the food industry or starting a business. Pam stresses the importance of having a solid plan, a supportive team, and a good support network. She also values her faith and the guidance she receives from her pastor and church community. Starting a business requires a lot of time and dedication, often taking time away from family. Pam’s journey underscores the importance of community and support in business. Whether it’s through faith, family, or friends, having a strong network is crucial. She believes in treating others well and maintaining high standards, despite the challenges.

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