Starting a small business in a new state can be daunting, even if it that business is one of the fastest growing franchise opportunities in the country. Although you can expect support from the franchise company, the franchisor is not always the best choice when grappling with the many challenges associated with opening a new business in a new market – challenges like local permitting, employee recruitment and more. When Lucia and Keith Lubbock, owners of River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen Orlando, were starting their business and facing all those questions, Lucia turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida’s (FSBDC at UCF) Kissimmee office for assistance.
River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen is one of America’s finest and most renowned candy brands, a southern tradition from the heart of Savannah, Georgia. Featuring its World Famous Pralines®, saltwater taffy, hand stretched peanut brittle, homemade pecan pies and made-from scratch southern delicacies, the folks at River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen proudly say they are “in the business of enriching the lives of our Guests by providing fresh, handmade Southern candies served with good, old-fashioned hospitality in a clean, fun environment.” It’s no wonder they were ranked the #2 Top Candy Franchise by Entrepreneur Magazine in 2021.
“What make us unique and special is that we make everything here, inhouse,” says Lucia Lubbock. “Every single treat that we can make and have here for sale is made with a lot of love and that makes a big difference.” Contributing to River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen’s family atmosphere is the shop’s location: the Promenade at Sunset Walk inside the Margaritaville Resort Orlando, one of Central Florida’s newest and most exciting resort destinations.
“When we first moved to Florida, we wanted to start a business,” recalls Lubbock, “and I found the FSBDC. I went there for a seminar that I found very helpful. After the seminar, I found my FSBDC consultant Elly Membreno and since then they have been helping me with everything. It was about the time of the COVID shut down and she kept on helping me via ZOOM. She guided us with the local permits, with the Paycheck Protection Program or any other questions I had about my business and how to start it.”
“Doing business during COVID was challenging,” Lucia Lubbock says today. “With the help of the FSBDC and Elly Membreno, it was easier. Now the business is getting better. Our numbers are up; revenues are higher by about 35%. We have a strong team. It looks like good times for us ahead.”
“My experience with the FSBDC and with Elly Membreno, it has been great,” concluded Lubbock. “For any entrepreneur or small business owner, I would definitely suggest they go to the FSBDC because they are very helpful. Sometimes you don’t know where to start but they will guide you. Even for me as a franchisee, I know the franchisor can help us with a lot of things but, with local issues and other things, the FSBDC knows the way.”
For information about River Street Sweets – Savannah’s Candy Kitchen, please visit https://www.ilovepralines.com/.