Black Business Spotlight: Ted Cook’s 19th Hole BBQ

MSR file photo

Social distancing not a problem for this restaurant

While many restaurants have had to shift to take-out only delivery and curbside services to safely remain open during the coronavirus, this hasn’t been the case for Ted Cook’s 19th Hole BBQ. The takeout-only restaurant found itself already well-suited for the times.

Originally established by Ted Cook, the eatery is known for its smoked barbeque and has been a staple in South Minneapolis for decades. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (MSR) caught up with owner Moses Quartey (MQ) for a Q&A session about his takeout eatery and the lessons he’s learned during his nearly 20 years of experience as a small business owner.

MSR: What inspired you to become the owner of an established BBQ takeout restaurant?

MQ: I didn’t plan on owning a BBQ takeout restaurant someday, but I took advantage of an opportunity that presented itself at the right time.

MSR: How did the opportunity present itself?

MQ: I first [became associated with TC BBQ during the late 1980s] when I was hired part-time as a pitmaster to pay my way through college at the University of Minnesota. Then in 2001, I took [advantage of] an opportunity. [Quartey went into business for himself when he learned that TC BBQ was up for sale].

MSR: Do you own any other businesses?

MQ: No, this is the only business that I own.

MSR: Are you involved in the day-to-day business operations or do you prefer to work behind the scenes?

MQ: Every so often I work up front, but I prefer to work behind the scenes where I can oversee the [daily operations] to make sure that things get done and done right from the [initial task] to the final product.

MSR: What is your best seller?

MQ: The pork ribs and rib tips are our top sellers, but we have a pretty good menu across the board.

MSR: Has your business been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and/or civil unrest?

MQ: We now offer contact-free deliveries or pick-ups through our continued partnership with
Seamless [deliveries]. Otherwise, it’s been business as usual, as our staff has always [maintained food safety, food handling, and sanitizing practices].

MSR: It seems like your business was tailor-made for these unusual times of social distancing.

MQ: That’s a fair statement.

MSR: Did your business experience any property damage during the weeks of protest and rioting this past late May and early June?

MQ: Not to my knowledge.

MSR: What is the key to running a successful business for almost 20 years?

MQ: It’s important that I keep the standards of the original owner and hopefully make the [business] better than it was before I took over. Additionally, [building a loyal base of repeat customers] through word-of-mouth advertising.

MSR: What has been your biggest challenge in running your business?

MQ: Dealing with customers sometimes gets to me, but I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s different strokes for different folks. It’s all in how you handle customer [interactions]. Plus, there will be less [customer] complaints if we provide quality products that taste right.

MSR: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your business?

MQ: Waking up every day with job [security] because I can’t be fired.

MSR: What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

MQ: If your heart is not into it, don’t go into business. Running a business requires dedication and hard work. If you want your business to survive, you’ll need more than ownership and a [business] name. You cannot achieve success without putting in the time with hard work.

Cathy Patterson welcomes readers’ responses to

Ted Cook’s 19th Hole BBQ is located at 2814 E. 38th Street in South Minneapolis. For more info, call 612-721-2023.