Have you ever thought about what “living the dream” would be like for you? Shannon and Josiah McGaughey, owners of the new restaurant Vivian in the River Arts District in Asheville, NC, knew turning their business dream of opening a restaurant would require a deliberate and focused sense of concentration on set goals.
Business dreams are the foundation of every new venture, and Shannon and Josiah set out making a plan, following it diligently, getting support from others, and ultimately were able to achieve their business goals.
“Once we began to actively pursue our dream and considered only opportunities, we found that somehow every person and resource we needed to make our dreams come true suddenly appeared,” said Shannon. “We tried hard not to be discouraged if we needed to readjust our goals and deadlines along the way,” said Josiah.
Shannon and Josiah began their culinary journey together by first relocating to Asheville in 2013, recognizing they would need to work seriously
and plan carefully in order to guarantee their success. Although they knew their dream could be a hard and expensive process, with the reality being many restaurants fail in their first year of business, they began the journey by going slow and taking baby steps.
“One of the best ways to reduce the risk of owning a failed restaurant is to have some restaurant experience before you start,” said Josiah. “I knew in or
der to prepare for owning a restaurant is to work in one. I had been working in restaurants since I was 15 and it was extremely helpful in significant components of the restaurant world. I was fortunate to help open The Bull and Beggar as a line cook when we first moved to town and see how my restaurant knowledge applied to the Asheville community specifically.”
During this time, Shannon and Josiah’s staunch commitment to their vision was always number one. And they were committed to constantly learning and adjusting. They knew to get their business off the ground, they would have to push through the challenges ahead and make it happen.
“We really wanted to build out a full kitchen on the property but were not in a position to make headway in securing a traditional bank loan,” said Shannon. “The banks were cold to our ideas and not supportive of our goals. We were considered a high risk and shot down.”
So when the opportunity to create a tabletop kitchen pop up inside Burial Beer Co. in 2015, Shannon and Josiah decided to give it a go. They felt this was a way for Josiah to test out ideas, enter the market and see if people liked his culinary style. Before long, the folks at Burial Beer offered them a permanent space and Salt & Smoke was born.
Although it wasn’t feasible to open a full restaurant on the Burial property, Shannon and Josiah were passionate about their business dream and were willing to keep searching for options to make Salt & Smoke work. When they saw an opportunity to purchase a custom-built food trailer, they contacted the Carolina Small Business Development Fund for a loan to purchase one. The experience was welcoming and supportive.
“The folks at the Carolina Small Business Development Fund were impressed with our business plan and were very supportive,” said Josiah. “The organization as a whole was our missing link. They approved our loan and we have learned so much about business development through their class offerings and seminars.”
Over time, with the success of Salt & Smoke, Josiah continued to expand the menu and follow his passion to one day have a brick and mortar location to call their own. When they felt it was time to take the leap to see where their dream would take them, the hunt for the perfect space took time and there were days when it seemed like they were a million miles away from that dream. “Being an entrepreneur means we have to have the ability to keep the dream alive despite having challenges along the way,” said Shannon. “We were not afraid to get creative and seek advice or support. Our setbacks did not define us and we kept pursuing our dream. And then it happened. We found our place.”
Shannon and Josiah are excited to take over space previously occupied by The Junction. The River Arts District was their first home when they moved to Asheville and they will remain close to Salt & Smoke, which will stay open with Chefs de Cuisine Harrison Hackett and Brendan Nugent at the helm.
It is important to invest time in plans, goals and strategies to understand where you are now and where you want to be in the future. And what’s most important to you along the way,” said Josiah. “We are extremely grateful to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund for helping address all the different aspects to help grow our dream business. The time they invested provided us a roadmap and practical how-to advice for realizing our dream.”