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Monday, May 2, 2016

Local entrepreneur looks to the future despite economic downturn

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

J.J. Winget may have his work cut out for him in more ways than one, but keeping a level perspective is his mainstay approach to success, passed down from one generation to the next.

Restaurateurs, Jim Winget and his son J.J. Winget, 21, of the Southfork Cafe in Salem, are not about passing the buck. Instead, by reducing their number of employees, they make due with a higher minimum wage and declining sales without increasing the prices on their menu.

"I do not believe that the public should pay for lawmakers' decisions," said Winget Sr.

"Here, in Salem, people are on a limited budget and we try to protect them. Try to be as honest as you possibly can, but not with too much optimism because you don't know what the economy will do for you," he said.

Winget Jr.'s meet in the middle approach allows his perspective to climb beyond his years to observe what makes and what breaks small business in the area.

"In this area, it's hard because there is not much available, but there are things out there if you are willing to go out there," Winget Jr. said. "Some days (the business) is very good, other days it's not; but that's with any business," said Winget Jr.

Southfork Cafe had employed 17, but after minimum wage increased from $6.55 to $7.25 on July 31, cuts were made to make up for a struggling local economy and increased labor costs.

Nine of 13 remaining employees at Southfork Cafe are paid minimum wage.

"The economy is so far down right now the minimum is going to affect anyone who has to pay an extra $.70 an hour," said Winget Sr. "All the (cafe employees) that are due for raises will not get a raise. The Christmas party and bonuses will be eliminated this year."

The Wingets were forced to let two employees go "because the government says that we have to pay more money," said Winget Sr. When summer help returns to school, they will not rehire for those positions because of the minimum wage increase.

"The ones you have left you try to protect so that they have a job," he said.

Most of the profit from Southfork Cafe is done through volume, instead of the sale of individual items on the menu, said Winget Sr. Although the prices were increased two months ago because of inflation in the cost of food, the Wingets hold firm to not raising prices again.

"The last thing I will do is raise the price of anything, because the economy can't handle it," said Winget Sr. "I'm not going to gouge anyone in this town to benefit my pocket. I know that if I take care of the customers, the customers will eventually take care of me."

The cafe has been running behind budget with $7,000 in lost sales each month since April. They have had two price increases in five years, he said.

Winget Jr., has worked with his father since he was 10 at four restaurants in Sharp and Fulton counties, owned by the Winget family over 11 years.

Winget Sr. turned over Southfork Cafe to his son on July 31.

"I'm probably going to take much of the same approach as my dad did, very business savvy. He tries to take care of the people that walk in the door."

Winget Jr., maintains his drive to continue following closely in his father's footsteps by putting customer care first.

"I'm still new at some of the ins and outs in the management aspect of it,"Winget Jr. said. "When some one comes in and you feed them, give them what they want and they leave full and happy, that's what it's all about," he said.

With youth and vigor on his side, Winget contends that success in tough times is only temporary and that an appreciation for work is necessary to succeed.

"The younger generations have to have that drive. I've seen a lot of kids come in for the paycheck. That's a sad situation because a lot of these kids are not going to be able to pay their bills. Then there are a lot of kids that do have that drive," he said. "They can do whatever they want to do as long as they strive toward that goal."

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