In his own words, Rudy Hendrix has been cooking “a whole lotta years.” He started off serving the people in his house until they would just rave so much about his food that he decided to open his own eatery. Lady Louisa’s Place in Detroit specializes in “slow cooked ribs and comfort food” prepared using only the freshest ingredients and cooked to perfection with love and affection — “just the way Big Mamma does it!”
Rudy opened Lady Louisa’s Place with his son about eight years ago. A little more than a year into it, his son felt a stronger calling and headed off to Georgia to begin his own career in the entertainment business at Tyler Perry Studios. “It’s okay, kids have to do what they gravitate towards and not necessarily what we want them to do,” said Rudy. “We started by serving food to the people in the community. They came to like it, so we just keep doing what we’re doing.”
“We talked about strategies with DTE…
We were spending a little over $2,000 a month and now
we’re only spending about $1,000 a month.”
Did you face any challenges when opening Lady Louisa’s Place?
“I bought the building, renovated it, bought all the cooking items that we needed – smokers, grills, ovens – and then I bought all of that stuff you need to dress out the restaurant. Other than the normal things that you go through when you are trying to get a business open, I don’t think we had any real serious stumbling blocks. The major challenge is always trying to have the right staffing available to make the business run properly. The people who work for me have been with me since the beginning, so I treat them like they are family. I try to do what I can to make them feel at home and to take care of them.”
What’s your business model in terms of sit down versus delivery?
“We are basically a carry-out restaurant; that’s the clientele that we serve. They come in, buy our food, and they take it home with them. Very few people sit down at our restaurant. If they want to place an order to come in and pick up, they can call us at 313-273-3663. If people want the food delivered, they can go to our website. We’ve got a delivery icon on our site so they can order online and have our food delivered directly to them.”
You had a positive experience with DTE Energy. Would you care to share it with our readers?
“We were paying an extraordinarily large amount on our utility bills on a month-to-month basis, so we worked with DTE to get some ideas on how to cut down our bills. They came out and gave us some bulbs and we had some conversations with them about our energy usage. I have a computer background and back in my day, I used to sell business applications to small businesses and one of the things that we did was equipment monitoring to help people reduce their electric bill. We talked about strategies with DTE and I brought in an electrician to put some timers on different equipment that we had. It allowed us to reduce our bill drastically. We were spending a little over $2,000 a month and now we’re only spending about $1,000 a month. That’s a lot of money for a small business like mine. We cut our bill in half.”
In closing, what is it about Lady Louisa’s Place that makes your business stand out?
“We serve the people in our neighborhood. Our barbecue ribs are really good and our signature dish, which is a smothered catfish, is really popular. Our motto is ‘We cook like Big Mamma cooks,’ which lets people know that we cook everything from scratch. We cook in our kitchen the way our grandmothers and our mothers cooked in their kitchen to ensure that the food that we are providing our customers is authentic.”
Support a local Detroit business and your fellow business owner:
Lady Louisa’s Place
Address: 15535 W. McNichols, Detroit, MI 48235
For more tips and inspiration for small business owners,
visit CBS Small Business Pulse Detroit.