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Pandemic puts a restaurant into business​

Pandemic puts a restaurant into business

 

 

 

Gabi Barghachie and Mike Blevins wanted to open a takeout-style barbeque restaurant for several years, but the timing never lined up. In an unexpected turn of events, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to make their dream come true.

“I wouldn’t say it wouldn’t have happened without the effects of the pandemic,” Blevins said. “But it wouldn’t have happened how it has happened. It was just one of those things where everything clicked and it came together really well.”

The duo opened Vision BBQ in February 2021, in downtown Charlottesville. The restaurant stands apart from others in the area because of its streamlined design, which helps get their delicious food into the hands of as many customers as possible. Barghachie and Blevins originally referred to their future restaurant as “the snack shack,” and Vision BBQ was created in that image. There are only 12 seats available inside, split between three tables. They valued providing a quick lunch option that wasn’t readily available nearby.

Online food delivery services help them reach new customers, and their own online ordering platform and a fun social media presence help them effectively maintain those relationships and convert them into regular customers. 

The Central Virginia Small Business Development Center assisted the pair in launching this venture. Business Advisors Diane Arnold, Cameron Nelson, Ellen Martin, and Greg Dorazio offered support including startup planning, web and social media strategy, and bookkeeping.

Greg was instrumental in helping us get the word out immediately,” Blevins said. “He gave us a list of contacts and local media, so there was a very successful media blitz and we were rolling pretty much out of the gate.” 

Vision BBQ even scored a large front-page spread in The Daily Progress.

Their success has only grown from there.

“People are excited about having a new BBQ restaurant option, which is great,” Blevins said. “When you first open you get all these people who come in and try it out, and a lot of them have come back. Everything’s moving in the right direction.”

“The last month is when we’ve started climbing towards where we would like to be as far as business goes,” Barghachie said. 

He and Blevins credit friends and family for helping them out when needed.

“My cousin washes dishes for us sometimes, Mike’s son washes dishes sometimes, and we have one friend who works about 13-14 hours a week helping us do prep,” Barghachie said. “We’ve called in some favors; it really does take a village. They want to see us succeed, so they’ve been spending a lot of time trying to help us get there as well.”

Part of that village has been the advising team at SBDC. 

“If anybody is doing anything entrepreneurial, they really need to talk to the SBDC. It’s just been such a great resource for us and everybody’s been so helpful. I just can’t imagine where we would be in this process if we hadn’t reached out,” Blevins said.

Bargharchie agreed.

“It seems crazy that people would not try and utilize the SBDC as a resource. It’s one centralized location for all the answers. If you reach out to somebody, they will put you in touch with the answers,” Barghachie added.

 

I wouldn’t say it wouldn’t have happened without the effects of the pandemic. But it wouldn’t have happened how it has happened. It was just one of those things where everything clicked and it came together really well.