Companies: D’Jon’s The Place, Socially Yours Inc., Taylor Made Gourmet Food
Revenue: More than $1 million
Next goal: Mobile chef service, packaged foods
What better way to test whether Baton Rouge is really “recession-proof”—as BusinessWeek has claimed—than by opening a restaurant?
Darryl Johnson, CEO of Socially Yours Inc. catering and food service and Taylor Made Gourmet Food, has launched D’Jon’s The Place, breathing new spirit into a building that’s been through various incarnations.
For decades, the brick structure just east of North Foster Drive and across Florida Boulevard from Baton Rouge Community College housed the venerable fine-dining landmark The Place. Dillon’s Catering, which closed in 2008, was the most recent inhabitant.
Johnson says a full-service restaurant is something he’d planned to do for years and was the only missing piece in his growing food empire. “We’re just trying to complete the equation,” he says.
Despite scary economic news nationally, the white tablecloths are spread and the kitchen fires lit at D’Jon’s The Place. Johnson says people have been asking him for years when he was going to finally open a full-service restaurant. At the same time, some have wondered about the timing.
“A lot of folks have asked me, with the economy, why am I opening up a restaurant,” he says. “Even at church Sunday, my pastor asked that question.”
Johnson admits the bank was stricter about financing terms this time around, and he thinks it might not have happened at all had he not already been running a handful of well-established business ventures. He didn’t disclose the amount of the terms.
But now it’s done, and Johnson believes there’s a demand for this kind of restaurant in the neighborhood—folks looking for a nice place for dinner without having to drive too far. The restaurant features a buffet as well as a full menu.
Once people realize they’re not skimping on the quality of seafood, vegetables and other ingredients, the restaurant ought to do fine, Johnson says.
“This is The Place,” he says. “We did everything we needed to do to make it happen.”