Each morning, Tim Sanford wakes up earlier than daybreak and heads to his barbecue restaurant on Clay Avenue. The 46-year-old father of three fires up the wooden smoker and begins cooking ribs, sausages, brisket and different meats that type the menu of Tim’s Smokehouse BBQ.

Not lengthy after Sanford begins cooking, De’Jonae Curtis wakes up and will get prepared for her house faculty courses. The ten-year-old begins her job later within the day when she bakes cupcakes and intricately-designed specialty truffles for Dee’s Child Desserts, the stand she owns within the Vicksburg Mall.

Sanford and Curtis are on reverse ends of the enterprise spectrum — one branching out and increasing, the opposite studying the ins and outs at an extremely younger age — however they each are among the many new companies which are surviving and thriving in Vicksburg throughout a troublesome 12 months for the restaurant business.

“Vicksburg is a city that takes care of its personal,” mentioned Jennifer Sanford, Tim’s spouse. “We get happy with the times we will put that enroll that claims ‘bought out.’ Thanks, Vicksburg.”


Catering to cooking

Tim Sanford didn’t set out into maturity with the objective of opening a restaurant. He discovered learn how to prepare dinner some issues by watching his father, a gifted yard pitmaster who labored the grill at household gatherings however solely began cooking himself to try to make some ribs for his mom.

“I tousled a number of meals,” he mentioned with fun. “I made ribs after ribs after ribs till I acquired it proper.”

Ultimately, Sanford taught himself sufficient to turn out to be an excellent prepare dinner — ok to open his personal catering enterprise about seven years in the past. Years of cooking barbecue for weddings, birthdays and household reunions gave him the arrogance and clients to wish a extra everlasting base of operations, and in September 2019 he opened Tim’s Smokehouse BBQ at 1713 Clay St., on the nook of Clay and Fifth North streets.

Along with barbecue favorites like ribs and pulled pork, Sanford cooks up batches of soul meals, beans and rice, jambalaya, or “regardless of the clients need.” The restaurant began small however has since expanded to serve lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to eight p.m., except the day’s batch of meals sells out sooner.

“I opened right here to have a industrial kitchen for catering, after which we served lunch plates, after which that was a restaurant,” Sanford mentioned. “Lots of people just like the barbecue, however we additionally smoke meats. We’re doing extra varieties than anyone else. We do brisket, pulled pork, sausage, you identify it.”

Alongside the restaurant sits a big wooden smoker and a pile of small logs to feed it. Tim’s Smokehouse BBQ has generated a loyal clientele of downtown metropolis employees and people from the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers services on the town. Enterprise took successful when the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, however seems to have weathered the storm. Sanford mentioned he has catering jobs lined up via the top of the 12 months, and the complete tables contained in the restaurant have been changed by a gentle stream of takeout clients.

“I believe I take pleasure in having the ability to work for myself. However seeing individuals consuming my meals and smiling is satisfying,” Sanford mentioned.

The Sanfords have additionally turned the restaurant right into a household enterprise. Tim and Jennifer’s son, 21-year-old Tim Jr., helps his father prepare dinner the meat. Their 23-year-old daughter Ebone is a pupil at Mississippi Faculty and works on the advertising and marketing facet of issues. Linda Sanford, Tim’s sister, works part-time on the weekends.

“Tim was capable of finding everyone’s strengths and domesticate a enterprise,” Jennifer Sanford mentioned. “All people does their factor.”


A younger entrepreneur

Rebecca Curtis vividly remembers the evening her daughter, De’Jonae, got here to her in tears whereas having a private disaster.

“She was asking, ‘Why don’t I’ve a enterprise? What’s my present?’” Rebecca recalled.

Nicely, a part of it’s that De’Jonae was solely 9 years previous. Now that she’s 10, De’Jonae has discovered the reply to each questions.

De’Jonae is the proprietor of Dee’s Child Desserts, a bake store within the Vicksburg Mall that sells an assortment of truffles, desserts, and 20 flavors of cupcakes. The stand opened in February 2020 and now sells practically 250 cupcakes and a number of other customized truffles per week. De’Jonae does all of the baking.

“I believe I’ve come a great distance, to suppose I began once I was 9. I can do something I put my thoughts to,” De’Jonae mentioned.

De’Jonae’s dad and mom, Rebecca and Tommy Curtis found her love of baking nearly accidentally. Tommy tried to document a basketball recreation on the household’s DVR, solely to find his daughter had stuffed it with greater than 100 cooking reveals.

De’Jonae devoured every episode like certainly one of her tasty cupcakes, studying baking strategies and recipes. Her dad and mom each mentioned they had been shocked to search out out the depth of their daughter’s information.

“She made a 7-Up pound cake and I used to be going to have a chew simply to humor her, however we ended up consuming the entire thing. It was good,” Tommy Curtis mentioned with fun.

Rebecca Curtis posted about her daughter’s baking success on Fb, and from that, a enterprise was born. Orders for greater than 4 dozen cupcakes got here in, and shortly the household determined so as to add to its enterprise portfolio.

The Curtis household — Rebecca, Tommy, De’Jonae, and their sons Christian and Tommy Jr. — personal a number of small companies, starting from the cupcake stand to a health club, tax preparation agency, music manufacturing and graphic design. Christian and De’Jonae even have a monetized YouTube channel with greater than 40,000 subscribers.

All of them have helped make Dee’s Child Desserts successful. Rebecca assists with the enterprise facet of issues whereas instructing De’Jonae the fundamentals of operating it. Christian helps within the kitchen and likewise assists with advertising and marketing and signage.

“Our complete household is entrepreneurs. My grandma had a restaurant,” De’Jonae mentioned.

Rebecca Curtis mentioned the objective of Dee’s Child Desserts is to provide De’Jonae some spending cash and her first style of enterprise expertise. The hours can fluctuate relying on De’Jonae’s faculty and exercise schedule, however on-line orders are taken at DeesBabyCakes.com.

“I’m it as instructing her learn how to turn out to be a profitable entrepreneur,” Rebecca mentioned. “We make simply sufficient cash for her to get her nails completed and purchase some outfits. So long as the payments are paid and he or she’s getting the abilities to be on her personal, we’re good.”

Regardless of some limitations on the present enterprise mannequin due to her age, Vicksburg’s youngest enterprise proprietor has huge goals for the longer term.

“I need Dee’s to be a franchise in the future,” De’Jonae mentioned. “Youngsters can do something they set their thoughts to. You might be the largest pop star ever in the event you work exhausting. I need to set an instance for teenagers in the entire whole world. They will dream as huge as they need.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Submit’s sports activities editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Submit’s sports activities workers since 1998, making him one of many longest-tenured sports activities reporters within the paper’s 137-year historical past. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his profession, he has gained greater than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Affiliation and Related Press for his protection of native sports activities in Vicksburg.

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