CAFE 611 Restaurant in the News
The Maryland Restaurant Association has selected Café 611 in Frederick to receive the Restaurant Neighbor Award.
restaurateurs to get or stay involved in their communities, said Paul Hartgen, president and CEO of the Maryland Restaurant Association.
The recognition puts Café 611 in the running for the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award at a ceremony in September in Washington.
Business owners Karen and Randy Jones did not know about the award. They became members of the Maryland Restaurant Association to learn about the best practices in the industry.
"We know people are keeping an eye on us, looking to see if there are any problems. We didn’t know they were also looking at how positive we’ve been," Randy Jones said. "If your neighbor says your music is too loud, you got to listen to your neighbors." He did not expect to be selected for the state award. "We’re on tap to represent the state of Maryland on the national level. That’s tremendous. I just couldn’t imagine that happening in only 2 1 /2 years in business," Randy Jones said. The Joneses opened Café 611, 611 N. Market St., in March 2007. At the time, the neighborhood was working on redevelopment projects, which slowed foot traffic into area businesses. Combined with a depressed economy, retailers around the restaurant were going out of business, the couple said.
"We had to ponder the question, ‘What does this neighborhood need to run a profitable business?’ and we decided on a fun, family-oriented place that’s affordable," Randy Jones said.
Like most businesses, Café 611 is struggling with the economic downturn. The business owners attribute the restaurant’s survival to being good neighbors, which, in turn, has created community support.
A business must adapt and change to cope with the times, the Joneses said. When foot traffic decreased, they focused on earning more money catering.
"But we also took the advice of Police Chief Kim Dine, who said ‘If you get involved in the community, the community will take care of you,’ and I thank him for that," Randy Jones said.
That involvement includes representation on local boards and committees, including the Frederick city recreation council, Tourism Council of Frederick County and In The Street.
"Those affiliations give us a better vision of what’s going on and how to best serve the community," Randy Jones said.
The restaurant has also partnered with some smart people to find ways to intermingle with the community, the Joneses said.
Being the only African-American-owned restaurant in Frederick County is a challenge in itself, said Jones, who retired from U.S. Army after 20 years. A successful entrepreneur must wear many hats, he said.
"You’re not only the CEO, you’re the janitor as well, and you can’t implement every good idea that comes along," Jones said. "We still have things to overcome, but this award shows we’re making progress."
Jones traveled to many cities and states when he worked for the Surgeon General’s office. He’s even lived in Germany and Japan, but none compares to Frederick as a place to live, he said.
"I can call the mayor and meet with him in a week. I can call the police chief and meet with him the same day. That wouldn’t happen in the large cities," Jones said.
The Joneses also credit the Rev. William Graham and the congregation at First Missionary Baptist Church for the spiritual support they gave their business.
"There wouldn’t be a Café 611 if it hadn’t been for hundreds of prayers," Jones said. "Multiple people were responsible for the success so far."
By IKE WILSON
Frederick News Post article, dated July 9, 2009