Filling Station scales up: Owners eye expansion opportunities
If you’re going to do something, do it right. That is Barry and Helene Tetrault’s motto, and that is exactly what they’ve done with their Bryson City business the Filling Station Deli & Sub Shop.
“We strive to be bigger, better, faster and stronger than we have to be,” Barry said. “We’re huge on consistency and quality.”
It could be Barry’s high standards that landed the Filling Station a coveted spot in AdvantageWest’s ScaleUp WNC program. Of the 15 businesses chosen to participate in the first ScaleUp WNC cohort, the Filling Station is the only restaurant selected and the only business west of Asheville.
Barry said he was surprised that his business was chosen from more than 80 applications submitted.
“I got an email saying we were in — it said we fit the bill,” he said. “I thought ‘Oh my God, are you kidding me?’ The criteria are very stringent.”
ScaleUp WNC is one of eight pilot ScaleUp America programs supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration and focused on assisting high-potential existing small businesses to scale up and create quality jobs.
The program connects the small businesses in the cohort with resources for financing, franchising, expanding, relocating and more. The Tetraults’ main interest is in creating a franchise and expanding the brand — something they have worked diligently at creating since opening the deli and sub shop in 2006.
For the last 12 weeks, Barry has attended cohort meetings every other Friday to network and seek advice from his AdvantageWest mentor.
“They take you and school you on what you need to do to get to next level,” he said. “I’ve gathered so much useful information from people in the cohort — everyone had something to add. It’s been a fantastic experience, but in the end it’s what you do with it.”
All the hard work culminated on Tuesday when Barry and other cohort members participated in a demo day at the Orange Peel in front of at least 200 potential investors. He had five minutes to give a pitch about the business and where he sees it going in the future. He also brought in his concessionaire truck in order to give the investors just a sample of what the Filling Station has to offer.
There’s no question he will be serving one of the Filling Station’s signature sandwiches — The High Test Cuban. Barry has it on very good authority from experts in Miami that it’s the best Cuban out there. He attributes all of the accolades to using high-quality, fresh ingredients and excellent service.
“We’re bringing something back to the food industry that people don’t do anymore because it’s costly,” he said. “We’ve found ways to make it work — we’ve gone old school and that’s part of my pitch. We decided the best direction to go is old school. Customers can walk in and feel welcome and not feel like they’re another number on someone’s check.”
The ScaleUp program has helped the Tetraults receive a federal trademark for the business that will allow them to pursue nationwide franchise opportunities. Unfortunately, the Filling Station was already taken and potential future restaurants will develop under a different name, but Barry isn’t ready to make the big reveal yet. He hopes the demo day will lead to more investors and franchise opportunities. He already has several people who are interested in having a franchise, and he sees the second location being somewhere in Asheville. But he wants to make sure any future investors stay true to the vision he has created.
“When it’s your baby, you want to do it right,” he said. “It’s fresh daily, made-to-order, fast service, but not fast food.”
Barry is looking to the future, but he is also proud of how far his business has come in such a short time. He and Helene fell in love with Bryson City when they were vacationing from South Florida. When they moved to the area, they purchased the building where the Filling Station is now located on Everett Street and started a take-out and delivery service. The Tetraults were able to expand to have dine-in tables in 2012. Business has been booming — people start lining up as soon as the doors open at 11 a.m.
The Tetraults care about the community and want to create jobs. The business could have expanded without hiring servers, but Barry said he wanted to keep that high level of service. The Filling Station now employs 10 people.
“Instead of just having a little deli, we decided to blow up and build out so one day we can retire,” Barry said. “And we did it during the recession era. It took time, patience and persistence. There’s no words for it — we’re blessed.”
AdvantageWest just wrapped up the application process for the second cohort of the year. The ScaleUp WNC program will continue for five years and two cohorts will be chosen each year to participate.
For more information about how to get involved with ScaleUp, visit www.advantagewest.com/entrepreneurship/scale-up-wnc.
ScaleUp WNC cohort participants
- Carolina Native Nursery
- Hi-Wire Brewing
- Dolci di Maria
- Outrider USA
- Lusty Monk
- New Appalachia
- The Filling Station
- Farm to Home Milk
- SimpleShot Shooting Sports
- Other Earth Produce
- Brightfield Transportation Solutions
- Ultimate Ice Cream Co.