‘Flip the Biz' local restaurateur gets surprise business facelift

Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 20:01:10-04

If you're a business owner, you know how tough it can be sometimes to keep things afloat, but imagine someone coming along to give your company the exact facelift it needs for it to boom again.

That's happening right now to one local restaurateur and it’s all one big surprise.

Over the past four years, Annie B and Earl's place has been a home away from home for breakfast loving locals.

"They know everybody's name when they walk in, it's almost like going to grandma's kitchen," said LaRese Purnell, founder of the nonprofit The Real Black Friday and the event ‘Flip the Biz.’

Down home cooking is the only way owner Annie Stark knows how to do it.

“Our heritage was family, you know biscuits and gravy and green tomatoes...I often laugh and say just kick your feet up," she said.

But all the laughter and good eats has been met with many days, even weeks of struggles and hard times.

“It was a business from scratch...there were times when the lights, the electricity failed...we couldn't get the shutters up," Stark said.

That's why the mom-and-pop shop has been chosen as the first to get a complete makeover by The Real Black Friday organization’s ‘Flip the Biz’ event.

"It was like a God send," she said.

“We're happy to be a part of something we call ‘Flip this Biz. The community helped to nominate this business, they voted for it,” said Purnell.

The whole idea is to encourage the nearly 1200 black owned businesses in Cleveland to not only survive, but thrive.

“We'll make sure within this community that we have businesses that are around for generations," he said.

Not only will Stark’s eatery change, so will her skills. As she and her staff will go through a whole year of intensive business training.

“You can make it look beautiful, that's the easy part, and make it attractive to the people, but if you don't give the people the tools to make sure they're ready to scale up...that's key to the longevity of these businesses," expressed Purnell.

Getting teary-eyed, Stark expressed her gratitude and what this means for her and other black businesses in the community.

“You really have no idea...They say it takes a village to raise a kid, in the black community even for a business it takes a village."

The big reveal will happen this Saturday morning at 11 and is open to the public.

The owner has been kept away from the restaurant all week, so the new look will be a complete surprise to her and her staff.