Business Lessons with a Local Café Owner, Christy Baucom

By: Vivian Duncan

Christy Baucom began her journey eighteen years ago when she was working at Gus’s Jackson Street Grill in downtown Newnan.

She worked there for nine years and really wanted to take over that location with her own restaurant. She had learned most of what she needed to know to run a restaurant from her various positions at Gus’s Grill.  

Christy gradually acquired the knowledge she needed through her day to day experiences, “What I didn’t learn, I learned along the way.”

Gus’s moved locations to Lagrange, and she worked with them there for three more years. Finally, she got a hold of her current location on Perry Street and started her own restaurant, Christy’s Café.

When asked how she got started, Christy said that the first year was tough because it was a bad year to open a business due to the bad economy.

She remarked, “Everyone remembered me from Gus’s, because I was the person they had seen all the time. That’s how I survived the first year. Knowing the people of downtown Newnan helped, because I knew them and they helped spread the word.”

Christy’s key to business is “find a need, fill a need.”

She knew that there was a need for her type of homemade cooking in Newnan, so she provided it.

When it comes to starting and keeping a business, especially a restaurant, Christy revealed that there are many hardships that must be met and dealt with accordingly.

She says that one of the hardest trials to overcome is keeping and hiring new help. Because she is a small business owner and operator, she only has five employees besides herself.

“It’s hard to train a new person, because I already have a job there, whether it’s in the kitchen out front waitressing. There’s no time to set aside, because I have a position also.”

She also explained how environmental factors that are out of one’s control can affect a business when she recalls how the town repaved the sidewalks outside of her restaurant, making it difficult for customers to come into the building.

Despite these hardships, Christy’s Café will have been running for seven years in March.

Christy said, “After five years, I realized that I was going to make it. They tell you if you make it after the first year you’re good, but that’s not necessarily true.”

She added that she did not truly realize she was going to make it as a successful business owner until the fifth year of her restaurant.

For future prospective entrepreneurs, she encouragingly warned that “There are a lot of things you don’t understand before you’re actually in the business.”

Her tip on having a successful restaurant?

“Being on site, being there, talking to people, and knowing your customers are the most important thing to me because that is what gets customers to come back.”

Being a business owner was not what Christy had in mind when she went to school for computers, but she soon found her place in interacting with people in the bustle of her own restaurant.

One of Christy’s most valued crowning achievements was winning a chili cook off from the votes of her dedicated customers as well as charitably serving others during the holidays.

“On Thanksgiving, we open up the restaurant to the community and cook a bunch of food and invite a bunch of people. A lot of people like to contribute to it, and it brings a lot of people together that wouldn’t normally be together,” she explained.

Looking toward the future of her restaurant, she noted how the limitations of her restaurant space may invite her to think of other business opportunities while maintaining the café.

“I would start a whole new business, maybe sell crystals or stones,” she remarked. “That’s another dream of mine.”

If, however, Christy does decide to expand the café, then her dreams of a stone shop might be temporarily put on hold.