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Slim & Husky’s Co-Owner Derrick Moore shares the inspiration behind his restaurants’ unique business model, and explains why economic development is vital for Nashville’s Black community.
When Derrick Moore and his two co-founders set out to create a new pizza restaurant in Nashville, they committed to not only providing great food and community, but also embracing their identity as Black business owners.
“It’s not an afterthought. This is at the forefront of what Slim & Husky’s is about. This is a Black restaurant, it’s a good restaurant.” Moore shared. “You can call it every name you want to call it, but it’s three Black dudes running this restaurant, and we’re not going to shy away from that.”
In this episode of Tell the Story with R.H. Boyd, Emmanuel LeGrair, community engagement and development coordinator at R.H. Boyd, sits down with Moore to hear how running a moving company inspired Moore and his partners to start a restaurant that would empower underserved communities in Nashville. Derrick also shares advice for other entrepreneurs who are getting ready to launch or scale a business.
Before starting Slim & Husky’s, Moore and his co-founders ran a moving company that took them across the country. Because of their travels, they realized that Nashville didn’t have many of the neighborhood restaurants and bars that they saw in other cities.
“The common thing that we saw, especially in New York or in very dense populations, was a lot of neighborhood bars or restaurants that were highly patronized by the community. And the folks that worked in those bars and restaurants actually lived in the community,” Moore explained. “And they didn’t sacrifice style or quality just because it was a neighborhood bar or restaurant.”
They were drawn to the idea that you could build a successful business by getting the local community invested. For Slim & Husky’s first location, they chose Buchanan Street in North Nashville.
“Everybody looked at us like we were crazy,” Moore shared. “Number one it’s a food desert. Number two, it’s a health food desert... and then it’s an employment burden in this community. They don’t have places to work.”
Slim & Husky’s was the first restaurant in this area of Nashville to prioritize employing people who lived nearby.
For Moore, this approach to hiring isn’t just a savvy business strategy, it’s also an important way to empower the Black community.
“As Black folks, we have to be the way out. We can’t depend on nobody else, the government, no other race, anything. We have to be the way out to our economic freedom and empowerment,” he shared. “Economic development is the only way. We can scream to the rooftops about education, police brutality, welfare system, housing, but we’ve got to have money to make the change.”
And in the midst of gentrification throughout Nashville’s historically African-American neighborhoods, Moore believes it's important to create an environment that both celebrates Black culture and also delivers great quality of food and service that anyone can enjoy.
Moore believes one of the keys to Slim & Husky’s success is the way he and his co-owners have committed to scaling and innovating. He argued that this is an important characteristic for any entrepreneur, regardless of your business’ size or industry.
“Don’t get comfortable feeling like you’ve made your first million or whatever and you’ve got it all, you’ve figured it out. That’s just not realistic,” he advised. “Be an avid researcher, continue trying to be innovative.”
With a commitment to innovation and a strong mission at the heart of your business, it’s much easier to get other people on board, Moore explained.
“People will see your story in your work if you’re putting the work in, treating people right and always doing what you’re doing for the right causes. It doesn’t have to be a humanitarian cause, I mean just really for the right reason, and not chasing the dollar. You’ll miss so much in life if you’re chasing the dollar.”