Entrepreneur Mom Opens Second Chicago Eatery

It’s the stuff many Monday morning fantasies are made of: Hardworking yet unappreciated Mae B. tells overbearing, micro-manager to shove it (using more or less inflammatory words).

Then with much dramatic flair, the Mae B. storms out of the business forever, leaving things to fall apart…which, of course,  they do, because in most variations of this fantasy, the wronged worker’s departure starts a chain reaction of bad karma-induced misfortunes.  Meanwhile, the Mae B. sails off to limitless opportunities and a new business endeavor of his or her own.

Julia Moore, owner of South Side Shrimp

Seven years ago, Entrepreneur Julia Moore, owner of South Side Shrimp–which recently opened a second location at 5319 Hyde Park Blvd., in Chicago–had similar dreams of moving on to greener pastures.

She opened her first seafood take-out eatery in Chicago’s Mt. Greenwood neighborhood with the help of investors. Shortly after, the U.S. economy began to falter. And with each downward step, the demands of her business partners increased.  Julia found herself having to balance rising payments to her investors with the growing costs of ingredients and the long hours she and her family members worked to keep customers coming through the door.

“It was great having someone invest in me, but I was putting in all the work and blood, sweat and tears,” she said.  In essence, Julia became unhappy with her situation.

Choosing Entrepreneurship

Her decision to become an entrepreneur grew from necessity. Julia, a mother or three, was working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology and needed a job to help pay for her tuition and her children’s private education. She quickly discovered there were few opportunities for recent college graduates in her field.

“I had a decision to make: Stay in school which wasn’t financially possible or start my own business,” she said. So when she and her now-ex husband became friends with a Chicagoan who owned five local shrimp restaurants, they all partnered-up to open what today is South Side Shrimp, located at 10410 S. Kedzie Ave., in Chicago.

Julia learned the ropes of the takeout business. She studied all ends of the restaurant’s operation and interacted with her customers.  This, she believed, prepared her to make good decisions about the business. However, after two years and several disagreements with her business partners, Julia leaned that every great business plan should include an exit strategy.  “We didn’t have an exit plan. I  thought we would always be in business together,” she said.

Resolving to Fly Solo

When Julia decided it was time to steer her own course, she flipped the traditional worker’s fantasy script and resolved to buy her partners’ shares of the restaurant – an accomplishment that took her seven years to make. She poured her own earnings and countless hours into this effort, while leaning on the support of her children (including one son who today manages the Mt. Greenwood store), her mother and father. Then it happened. “Within two weeks [after buying her partners out], I was divorced, my partnership dissolved and I was flying solo.”

“It’s scary, especially with the second store…It’s a risk but I feel it’s a risk worth taking,” she said,

Looking back, the process of taking sole ownership of her business proved to be an empowering, life-changing experience for Julia. Today, she is an inspiration for visionaries dreaming about starting a business (Julia believes each of her children will one day opt to own their own businesses) as well as entrepreneurs who might benefit by tweaking their current business model.

Do you daydream about making changes that will bring greater control over your own financial destiny? Please reply and share your goals.

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