Jeff Jacobs, second generation owner of Carrol’s Creek Café, knows the sweet smell of success and now must cope with the bitter fall-out of the pandemic. We asked him to comment on the situation as it affects his business, his staff, and his suppliers:
Q: How has the pandemic affected your restaurant in particular and the industry in general?
A: Currently, Carrol’s Creek is closed and not doing any type of food service at this time. With all the uncertainty of the virus, we felt the safety of our staff was the most important thing.
Q: How are you handling staff layoffs/furloughs? Your longtime chef and his staff? Your waitstaff?
A: Unfortunately, we had to lay off all our staff temporarily. This included management also.
Q: Any ways the public can help? Any Annapolis-wide effort to support restaurants during this crisis?
A: I knew that I needed to try to find ways to assist my out of work staff as soon as we closed. The next day, Gift Cards for a Cause was born. 25% of all gift card sales, while we are closed, is donated directly to my great staff. The support has been overwhelming from our guests.
Q: What do you foresee for Annapolis restaurants after we come out on the other side?
A: I believe that restaurants are going to have to figure out how to get their products to guests that might not be able to come to their location for many months to come.
Q: How about Carrol’s Creek? Any predictable changes in the way you do business?
A: We are currently exploring the possibilities of doing pick up or delivery of premade meals and light groceries.
Q: Are there pros and cons to being family-owned rather than part of a chain?
A: I think that we have the ability to adapt and change our business, possibly quicker that a chain. The con of being an independent business is we do not get to take advantage of corporate buying and cooperative advertising.
Q: Any still there – come-backs?
A: Over the past few years we have had more and more children of former employees come to work with us. We have a mother who first started working here when she was young and now all three of her kids work with us.
Q: How old were you when you started learning the trade from your Dad? When did you take the reins? Any other family members work with you?
A: My father was a silent partner in Carrol’s Creek when I started in the business at 15. I began to take on additional ownership responsibilities after I graduated from Towson University in 1991. My son started to work here last year and I think that he will return this summer. I have one brother that worked here when we first opened but decided that restaurants were more for enjoying meals, not for employment.
Q: Richard, your general manager, has been with you since? Has he been a valuable partner – like a brother to you?
A: Richard has been a trusted and valuable part of the Carrol’s Creek family for well over thirty years. When the original ownership fell apart it was Richard that took over day to day operations and kept the restaurant on a continued path of success.
Q: Say something about community involvement – Richard is a past president of the Maryland Restaurants Assn. Other examples?
A: We have always felt that community involvement is vital part of our business. In celebration of our 35th Anniversary Richard McClure, General Manager, is a past president of the MD Restaurant Assoc., along with serving on the Governor’s tourism board and he works with the Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute for Anne Arundel Community College. I am a past president for H.E.L.P., an organization that was founded to assist hospitality workers in times of need. I currently serve on the board of the Anne Arundel County License Beverage Association and the president of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Advisory Board for Towson University. We also try to support the many local non-profit and charity events where they raise funds for their organizations.
Q: Was your Dad your mentor? Anyone else?
A: I would say that both my parents were my mentors. My mother for her kindness and her sense of what good hospitality should be and my father for his knowledge of business operations.