• Name: ZJ’s restaurant
• Location: 809 Market St.
• Products/services: “It’s your home dining room away from home,” says owner Louis Zarzour. The restaurant offers full-service dining, and meals are made from scratch, he said. The atmosphere and design of the restaurant are arranged to evoke a home dining environment from a local perspective, Zarzour said. The restaurant serves Southern homestyle cuisine, with heavy, substantial foods that aren’t overseasoned. ZJ’s is open for breakfast and lunch.
• Age: Four months
• Startup investment: $93,000
• Projected annual sales: Roughly $264,000
• Target market: Downtown workers who need a convenient place to grab a bite before, during or after work. ZJ’s also caters to larger groups that want to meet over lunch, and does catering as well. On the weekend, Zarzour sees more of the jeans-and-T-shirt crowd, he said.
• Biggest hurdle: Starting a new business from scratch means training a new staff from scratch, learning new processes and ironing out the wrinkles has been a challenge. Learning what foods to order and how much to buy also is difficult.
• Biggest reward: Fulfilling a lifelong dream to run a downtown restaurant
• Challenges in the future: Building clientele from the ground up will be a continuing challenge, as ZJ’s works to attract a “regular crowd.” Food costs also are rising.
• Lesson learned: Many processes have been changed, from where refrigerators are located to how fruit is stored.
• Five-year goal: “I want this to be a family-operated restaurant that my son can have, plus I’m looking at uses for the [ample] space upstairs,” Zarzour said.
— Compiled by staff writer Ellis Smith, email@example.com or 423-757-6315
Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...