1 month ago

Keith Richards describes mindset starting Taziki’s — ‘I knew at that point there was no plan of failure’

Keith Richards, founder of Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe, appeared recently on Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Living Life on Purpose” to talk about the leap of faith it took to launch his business and many other topics, including a program created for special needs employees.

Richards described to podcast host Matt Wilson that the idea to start Taziki’s took form after a three-week trip to Greece with his wife, Amy.

At the time, Richards was working with Frank Stitt at Bottega in Birmingham, but he wanted to start his own restaurant.

So he borrowed $50,000 and relied on family to help him get the restaurant ready to open.

“I knew that at that point there was no plan of failure,” Richards told Wilson. “I could not fail. I could not stop what I was doing.”

One Friday night during only their third week in the business, that resolve got put to the test.

That was the night the dinner crowd swelled beyond what Richards expected, and he ran out of food. He recalled Amy, who worked for US Airways at the time, having to shut the restaurant down. As an apology to their customers, Amy handed out 50 signed menus that were good for a free dinner at a future date.

Richards said he got back 49 out of 50 menus, and now Taziki’s has 93 locations in 17 states.

He credits the trust he built with restaurant customers in Birmingham as essential to Taziki’s success.

“My relationship that I created with our guests at Bottega was very important,” said Richards. “The guests trusting me. Trusting me knowing while they were at Bottega they were going to get great pizza or great pasta. I was going to make sure that I saw through what Frank was serving, it was going to hit our guests in a positive way, and then I was going to make that connection. Honestly, I feel that is how we became successful.”

When Richards set out to open the second Taziki’s, Amy had become pregnant with twins. Apparently, a pattern had set in because Amy was pregnant with twins again when the third Taziki’s opened.

Even with the added responsibility at home, Richards knew he was working as he was called to do.

“A lot of its faith built,” he said. “Trust the Lord in giving us the right direction. And really being passionate about guest services.”

Another part of his business about which he is passionate is his employees.

Tazkik’s has an exceptional special needs hiring program that has grown to include 15 employees. It was born out of a chance encounter with a special needs teacher from Shelby County. Now it is one of the most valuable aspects of Taziki’s culture.

“For me, it wasn’t so much of just bringing in the student, it was almost how can I get back to that parent,” outlined Richards. “God has blessed us with four healthy children, I thought, you know what, if I could give Momma D or Daniel’s mom or Steven’s father just some time to reflect and play tennis or pray or meditate or shop without them, then I’ve kind of created two little opportunities for both. For them to be self-sufficient and work with us as our team, then the parents go do what they want to do. It gives them time away because when you look at the life expectancy now of a child with Down Syndrome, now they are living to 70 or 80 years old.”

Richards believes the program has even allowed him to look at his company in a different way.

“We cherish them, we protect them, and we love them,” he said. “To me, that was another aha moment with Taziki’s. It’s so easy for us to give back.”

“How can you have a bad day?” is a question Richards often asks himself when he sees one of his special needs employees engaged in their daily routine at work.

“We want to make sure these kids flourish,” said Richards. “I don’t do it for the feeling. I do it because it gives them an opportunity, it gives them a meaning and a purpose.”

Another opportunity he developed to help them and his restaurants is called HOPE Project. HOPE stands for Herbs Offering Personal Enrichment.

Under HOPE Project, special needs students at several Shelby County schools grow herbs that are used in Taziki’s restaurants. What started as a project in a small bed in front of one school is now the recipient of grants and includes greenhouses and numerous sites.

Richards believes he is fulfilling an inherent responsibility by partnering on these types of projects.

“It’s up to us as business leaders to empower and to hire those [special needs] students,” he concluded.

Listen to the entire episode of Living Life on Purpose to hear Keith Richards provide some advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and warn of the challenges they will face. He also describes the unique ways he fought burnout while he was getting his business going. He discusses plans and expectations for growth, how technology has made a difference in their business and find out why he says, “Taziki’s is my middle name.”

For more stories of how people have lived their lives with a purpose, listen and subscribe to Living Life on Purpose with Matt Wilson on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spotify and Google Play. Matt’s guests include Andy Andrews, UAB head football coach Bill Clark, Congressman Gary Palmer, Scott Dawson and many others.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

55 mins ago

Yellowhammer connects your business to Alabama consumers

After nine years, our mission remains the same: reflect our state, its people and their values. As the state’s second-largest media outlet, Yellowhammer connects your business to the people of Alabama.

Online, on the radio, podcasts, events and more. What can Yellowhammer do for you?

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2 hours ago

State Sen. Chambliss: Ivey doing ‘a great job’ on coronavirus — ‘I applaud her for just hanging in there and making those tough decisions’

The coronavirus pandemic has prevented a set of unforeseen challenges that almost no government official in the upper echelons of an executive could have imagined. Included among those are challenges deciding the whats and when of closures, which could have profound economic impacts.

In Alabama, State Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville), while acknowledging his reluctance to be critical, credited Gov. Kay Ivey for taking on those challenges stemming from the COVID-19 breakout.

Chambliss told Huntsville radio WVNN’s “The Jeff Poor Show” that he thought Ivey was acting in good faith, putting what was best for Alabama in front throughout her decisionmaking processes.

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“As a past chairman of a county commission, which is obviously small compared to this situation — you know, I was in situations where I had to make decisions about closures and that kind of stuff — and those were just for a day or two, nothing like she has done,” he said. “There is no way it is the time for us to look at that — should we do this, should we do that. I think she is doing a great job. She is doing what she thinks is best. Obviously, she has every bit of the information she can in making those decisions.”

“And you and I are a level or two removed from all that information in real-time,” Chambliss continued. “So, I applaud her for just hanging in there and making those tough decisions. After the fact, I’m sure she’ll say to herself, ‘I wish I had done this,’ or, ‘I wish I had done that.’ But now is not the time for me to do it, specifically. But there’ll be plenty of time to look at that kind of thing later, and learn from it — and do better next time.”

As to whether or not Alabamians were adhering to the guideline set by policymakers, the Autauga County Republican legislator said it took some time, but now most appear to be on board.

“I don’t think they were initially, especially some of the initial discussion was that it primarily affects older people,” Chambliss said. “We now know, at least in the United States, I think the numbers are around 40% or greater that are younger than 65. I think that gave them a false sense of invincibility, and that’s not going to be a problem for me. We see that it has been a problem for some. More importantly, they spread it around, and then it causes problems for their loved ones. I think that’s starting to sink in with people now — even the younger generation, kind of now are, ‘I need to be a little bit more careful than I was.’ I think it is starting to sink in now, although I don’t think it was initially.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

Get back on the road to recovery — $350 billion is now available to small businesses

Business Council of Alabama is the go-to resource to ensure your small business gets its share of the relief funds.

Join Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Boyd Britt and a panel of experts Thursday night for the Small Business Exchange on Alabama Public Television.

They’ll take your phone calls and answer your questions.

“We have to make sure that Alabama’s small businesses get the loans and support they deserve in these tough economic times,” Britt emphasized. “The first step in getting Alabama back to work is to get this loan money flowing to our businesses.”

The Small Business Exchange will air Thursday on APT from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Call 1-833-BCA4BIZ (1-833-222-4249) from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Thursday and from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday to talk to a small business expert.

Let our experts help you get back on the road to recovery. We’re all in this together.

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2 hours ago

7 Things: Guidelines on reopening the economy could come soon, everyone wants the coronavirus stimulus check, Biden the Dem nominee and more …

7. Apparently, the coronavirus only strikes at night

  • Mobile has put out a city-wide curfew from 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m. that prohibits anyone who isn’t going to their essential job from being out. Fairhope’s city council voted on whether to adopt this same curfew but voted it down. 
  • Council President Jack Burrell said he had “real concerns” about issuing a curfew, and the council saw that a curfew could cause raise the chances of law enforcement being exposed to the coronavirus if they have to pull over more people for violating a curfew. Councilman Robert Brown argued that he’s against “further restrictions on personal freedoms.”

6. Hyundai plant extends its shutdown

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  • Hyundai has decided to keep their Montgomery production plant closed until at least May 4 after being suspended on March 18. 
  • The Montgomery plant has about 3,000 employees. There will be new safety measures when work does resume, but for now, the shutdown “is in the best interest of protecting the health and well-being of team members and communities, and to align vehicle production with current consumer demand.”

5. It wasn’t China, it was Europe or something

  • The American media is selling a narrative Thursday morning that the coronavirus didn’t come from China, but it came from Europe. The hook is that the travel ban to China was worthless while the travel ban to Europe came far too late.
  • This ignores a few obvious things. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, the Chinese and the World Health Organization lied about the spread, and when the travel bans were implemented, these same outlets screeched like banshees about how wrong travels bans are.

4. Aderholt wants us to “Buy America”

  • In a letter sent to President Donald Trump, U.S. Representative Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) advocates for more “Buy America policies,” adding how this pandemic has shown how important is it for the United States to not rely so heavily on other countries. 
  • Aderholt wrote that “we must prevent foreign control over the supply and price of health-related commodities in the United States.” He also noted the push to have more American-made medical supplies is being brought up by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

3. It’s Biden, it was Biden all along

  • U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has admitted that “Vice President Biden will be the nominee” after deciding to suspend his 2020 Democratic presidential Campaign. 
  • Even though his campaign is suspended, Sanders has said he will “stay on the ballot in all remaining states and continue to gather delegates.” He insisted that his “movement” isn’t over and is still about “justice.”

2. Everyone wants the checks to come quicker

  • The coronavirus stimulus package that would pay many Americans $1,200 has already been approved and signed, so now everyone is waiting for their money. U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) wants the checks sent out quickly. 
  • Jones and U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) are suggesting that the Treasury Department send out debit cards to people instead of paper checks since there were plans to likely not send checks until late April. Jones said, “A slight lag between Congressional action and the support arriving to workers is understandable, the Treasury Department must act expeditiously to get these funds to their intended recipients.”

1. CDC could start relaxing guidelines soon

  • The media and the elites got it very wrong and now Americans want a chance to get back to some form of normalcy. Now, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is considering relaxing restrictions. Trump wants to give leeway to the states with “red zones” and “green zones” within the country to show where the government believes it’s safe to reopen. 
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has also said that if social distancing rules already in place successfully flattens the curve, then we need to “at least plan what a re-entry into normality would look like,” and we need to “be prepared to ease into that.”

3 hours ago

House Majority Ldr Ledbetter: ‘The people in our state are strong — They’re going to come back better than ever’

In recent days, some of the doom and gloom resulting from the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on Alabama has given way to optimism.

Among those with an optimistic disposition regarding the state’s handling of COVID-19 and the state’s economy is Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville).

During an interview with Huntsville radio’s WVNN on Wednesday, Ledbetter laid out why he sees the state turning a corner in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak.

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“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Ledbetter said of a perceived change in trends for the better. “The models indicate that. When you put everything in that they ask for — once you do that, it shows up dropping in numbers. At one time, some of the models were showing us at 5,000 deaths. I think now it has decreased down into the hundreds, and maybe even lower than that. That’s certainly been important for the people in our state. The things we look for — you know the question today was what will see when we start going back to normal?”

“That was one of the things — fewer cases and deaths, and more tests we’ll get out, the better off we’ll be,” he continued. “The curve that everybody’s talked about — hospital capacity, we’re actually in pretty good shape right now, the state of Alabama. We’ve got about 50% of our beds available. Somewhere around 36% of our ICU beds are available. We’ve got about 800 ventilators, which has increased pretty significantly. When we started out, we had 1,333 ventilators in this state, and I think we’re up to some 1,800 ventilators.”

Ledbetter credited many institutions around Alabama for getting the ventilator count up, from nursing school to the veterinarian school at Auburn University, and pointed to an effort to refurbish some ventilators that were in disrepair.

He also credited State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“I’ve got to give credit to Dr. Harris,” he said. “I think he has done a tremendous job — him and Dr. [Don] Williamson, in my opinion very fortunate to have those two. Dr. Williamson over the hospital association, and of course, Dr. Scott Harris is over [the Alabama Department of Public Health]. Those two have worked in tandem, and I really truly believe they’re one of the main reasons we’re where we are at today and have been hit no harder than what we have been hit.”

The Dekalb County Republican lawmaker insisted the state would rally back to an even better position economically.

“If we can get this behind us, and get our economy growing — you know, our Alabama economy as growing better than it ever has in my lifetime,” he explained. “Unemployment was 2.7%. We had added some 24,000 jobs and $14 billion into the economy. You know, it almost hit a brick wall. We’ll see how it comes out, and listen — the people in our state are strong. They’re going to come back better than ever. I really believe that.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.