Business Spotlight: Fin’s Kitchen

Business Spotlight: Fin’s Kitchen

A Rough Start Doesn’t Deter Chef From His Passion

Born and raised in Delray Beach, Fla., Findler Charles always had a passion for cooking, he said, and began working in the food and beverage industry at 15 years old. He helped in the kitchen of a nursing home before working as a cook three years later. But his goal, he said, was always to own his own cooking-related business.

And, although he now co-owns and is the chef for Fin’s Kitchen, a family-run and operated mobile food truck and catering business in South Florida that specializes in innovative Haitian-infused cuisine, his path was not an easy one.

Charles worked a regular nine-to-five job at a car dealership, but was also working on the side as a caterer and personal chef while trying to build a business. After struggling through a difficult catering job at a wedding, Charles decided he needed a kitchen on wheels. He saved up to purchase a new custom-built food truck, “but my dream became a nightmare,” he said. Charles said he was scammed out of more than $30,000 when the builder filed bankruptcy three months later, and left Charles with a barely-finished truck.

On top of that, he lost his job at the car dealership.

Now he had to figure out how to move an undriveable food truck to avoid it being auctioned off. He had to figure out where to store it, and how to sell it to try to gain some of his money back.

That’s when he tore a tendon in his right knee, from an old football injury, which left him temporarily immobile with no way to work for several months.

Still, with no job, no way to work and scammed out of his life savings, Charles didn’t give up. At a networking event in Delray Beach, he met Jacqueline Ramirez and James Deam, consultants with the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FAU. The event led to a meeting where the three created a business plan for a mobile restaurant and catering company. “James helped and gave me feedback on my business name and logo,” Charles said. “The FAU small business department helped me secure a Small Business Administration loan to access capital to help me rebuild my food truck.”

After healing from his knee surgery and securing the loan with the help of the SBDC, Charles reached out to a local food truck building business and received a quote to build his food truck. It took about four weeks to build it and another two months for it to become operational, during that time he also worked on getting the proper mobile vending and catering licenses. “Once the truck was completed, the heavy work began as far as creating the social media platform, setting up the point of sales, website, business cards and more,” Charles said.

The first event he did was a fundraiser for a local community. From that point, he continued to connect with apartment complexes, schools and other events for permission to sell to the residents and community. Through word-of-mouth, his business continues to grow, including catering a couple dozen events each month from West Palm Beach south to Miami.

Charles credits SBDC with helping his business get on the right track.

“Without James and Jaqueline, who helped me secure the loan that launched my business, I wouldn’t be here today.”

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