Sherice Garner, owner of SouthernQ BBQ & Catering, talks about how PepsiCo’s Black Restaurants Deliver program optimized her business

The history of SouthernQ BBQ & Catering

Tell me about yourself and how did SouthernQ BBQ & Catering start?

I am Sherice Garner, married to Stephen Garner. He’s actually our pitmaster, so he’s the brainchild behind SouthernQ. We started our business about ten years ago. It was a very expensive hobby. We’ve always liked to cook and we did a lot of catering for our church, so it just grew from there. We use a lot of our family recipes. We’ve incorporated those into the business, and it’s just grown and we’re really excited that we’re still doing it ten years later. There is a lot of barbecue, but you know, our barbecue is very unique because like I said, we use family recipes. We’re more East Texas, which is where my husband’s family comes from, and my family is from Louisiana. There’s a little bit of Cajun and East Texas in there, so we have a unique flavor.

How did you hear about the Black Restaurants Deliver program?

Actually, a Pepsi rep came to us about the fountain machines and he shared with us about the program. We said we’d check it out, and it ended up being one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. I was very surprised at the level of support we received. It was pretty great.

Did you have any goals or expectations before applying for Black Restaurants Deliver?

So with us, because we are a small business and Stephen and I, we’ve never had a restaurant before – my husband was a truck driver and I worked in education– this was all new to us. We did everything ourselves and there’s good and bad with that. Small business owners wear many hats and we do a lot of things ourselves, so there were a lot of things we didn’t know. What we didn’t know the [Black Restaurants Deliver] team really helped us [with that]. One of our goals was to build our online ordering, especially during the pandemic. A lot of people weren’t coming into the restaurant, so we wanted to build that online presence so people could order online, but we didn’t have very professional pictures and our menus weren’t as clear online. They helped us with that a lot, and that was one of our main goals, just to have a more streamlined presence online especially in this day and age where everything is online.

How was your experience with Black Restaurants Deliver program?

I think the team was really great. They were very accommodating, and with small business owners like ourselves, like I said, we wear many hats, so there were times when I couldn’t be at the meeting, but they still were moving forward, which is like, “Thank God!” They were always waiting on me. A lot of the things they were asking me to provide up front, and they were able to work with that throughout the program. It was very organized. In spite of what we didn’t know or if we couldn’t be there, they still were able to produce those deliverables. And that was amazing. We are very pleased with that.

Will you be giving us a call soon to use Black Restaurants Deliver’s Office Hours service?

I think what I’ve been really excited about, and I haven’t had a lot of time to do it, but I do want to get into more videos and promote our product because most of our business, especially the first ten years, has been mostly word of mouth, and that was very good for us. But when the pandemic hit, it wasn’t so good because no one was coming out, so I do see the benefit of the social media aspect. I wish I had a lot more time to do some things and make things. The few things that we did put out we’ve definitely utilized and it’s been great. I would like to do more of that type of promotion. Square has a TikTok integration and I tried it, but I don’t think it worked out. I have these ideas, but I just never know how to completely implement them. I’m big on trial and error, but after working with professionals, I know I need to reach out to the right people now.

What would you like to say if you had the opportunity to talk to other Black business owners?

Oh just do it, definitely do it! Initially, it was a little intimidating because there’s so many things you don’t know. But they’re the professionals. They know everything about marketing and online advertising. I would say do it and let the professionals take over. It’s really an awesome feeling to have somebody actually help you in such a significant way because we did so many things on our own, so we had to kind of figure it out along the way. It’s definitely worth it for sure.

What would you like to tell the Pepsico Dig In team?

I’d just like to send a heartfelt thank you. When you’re a small business owner, and like I said, you’re doing so many things on your own, it’s really great to know that there are people that actually care and not only care with their words, but care with their money, their time, and their talents that was such a blessing for us, and we are so grateful. We just are so grateful to Pepsi. Thank you so much for that.