A local barbecue, Pulaski Heights BBQ was opened by Chuck Ramsey in 2012. The University of Georgia alum worked in the restaurant industry for years before opening Pulaski Heights.
The Red & Black: How do your challenges from before COVID-19 compare to those you’ve faced this past year?
Chuck Ramsey: We’ve never had online ordering before, so we had to get that set up. We had to constantly tweak it to make it more efficient and easier for the customer to understand. … Figuring out how much you need every day, what these people are going to buy, how much labor, how many people you need working — those challenges were still there, and it just got compounded by the pandemic.
R&B: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in the past year?
CR: I have an amazing staff. I’ve always had an amazing staff, but the people working really rolled with the challenges, really stepped up and offered insight on how to do things better, more efficiently.
R&B: In what creative ways have you adapted your business to the pandemic?
CR: There were a lot of things that were sort of taken for granted. Like the price of disposables because they were such a small percentage of your cost of goods, and then all of a sudden, they became a huge percentage … That was a big one. It probably cut the per unit cost of my disposables down by 25-30% just by taking the time to really go shop around and see the best deals I could get.
R&B: Is there any unexpected silver lining?
CR: The community really stepped up as a whole by supporting restaurants by getting takeout. People tipped really well. And we had a lot of people who bought gift cards. You know a lot of restaurants in town were cooking as much food as they could to give to less fortunate people in the community who needed it. … Yeah, the community has always been great. I think people really stepped up.
This article was first published in The Red & Black's spring 2021 Eat & Drink special publication.