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 cpatterson@spokseman-recorder.com.

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

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