We interviewed Maranda Dowell who told us the idea came about in 2008 after her husband Joseph lost two restaurants in Hurricane Katrina. He took what he remained- two fryers and a tent-and started selling seafood breading platters throughout the East Coast.
After they saw the overwhelming positive reaction to their product -customers would bring tupperware and ask to take just the breading home- the couple, alongside Joseph’s father, Big Joe, launched the company in 2015 at Wayfield in their local Atlanta. To date, sales have been $400,000, and they have gone from being in seven stores to 1,200, such as select Kroger, Publix, Walmart, HEB, Rouse, Nam Dae Mun, Northgate Markets, Lunds, Festival Foods and Stew Leonard’s locations.
Here’s what else she told us about…
How the Idea Came About
Joseph Dowell III started with a restaurant called Joe’s Po Boys. He was waiting tables at a restaurant that was serving po boys. He thought I could make a better one. Within few weeks, as misfortune would have it, he totaled his car, and used the money to open his first location. He’s had several restaurants since then, but since he lost the last two in 2008 due to Katrina. He took what he had left from the devastation; two fryers, and a tent, and started selling seafood breading platters all over the East Coast. We sold at festivals and fairs, anywhere people could try our seafood platters. It was from there the idea for a seafood breading started. People would line up at my tent with tupperware and storage bags begging for some of our breading mix to take home. To meet that demand, we started Joe’s Gourmet amazing seafood batter. It is a delicious breading mix perfect for baking or frying seafood, poultry or vegetables.
What Makes Their Breading Special
It’s all about the taste. We created something that adds a lot of flavor, but is not spicy or too salty. Most breadings are too thick, and absorb too much oil. Ours fries up nice and light, and is never greasy. Our taste stops you in your tracks with a flavor that is so hard to describe, you’ve just got to taste it!
‘Stalking’ the ‘Tank’ & Not Letting Nerves Stop Them Once Inside
We had stalked the show, and watched every episode with our kids. We dreamt of the day we would be there ever since we started the business. We worked really hard to get ready. So at some point the fear is overwhelmed by your own conscious obligation to yourself to succeed. When you are in that type a situation, those moments where everything counts, it’s about what voice is louder, your fear, or your faith that you can win. There was no way were were going to let nerves stop us from doing our best.
Their Family’s Support & Sacrifice
Our team is family. It consists of Joe, myself, and his father Big Joe. Joe’s parents put up their life savings to help Joe start his restaurant. It has always been a dream of the elder Joe to be an entreprenuer. “In my day”, he says “starting a business just wasn’t an option for a black kid from New Orleans. It was about taking care of your family, so I started a career in the United States Air Force. Mr. Dowell successfully retired from the Air Force after serving in the Vietnam War, and his opportunity came though his son at retirement age. “It’s invigorating to see it grow, its the best and biggest risk my wife and I have ever taken, but worth it all.”
Giving Back to Atlanta’s Homeless
Joe’s Gourmet is all about feeding people; it is our business, but it also our purpose. Even before we were a business, our family supported Safehouse Outreach. It’s an organization that provides excellent services to Atlanta’s homeless community. Through their amazing infrastructure, we are able to provide one meal each month to anyone in downtown Atlanta who may need a meal. We are so happy to do it and to date we have served over 12,000 people.
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