One year ago last Monday, Ted Paskevich and Don Holland opened a tiny café on Waters Avenue as a front for their catering business.
A commercial kitchen is a must for food service businesses in Chatham County, per health department code. The duo figured they’d serve up a simple menu of sandwiches, salads and soups during the lunch hour and focus their energies on catering.
The catering business has indeed flourished over the last 367 days, but it’s the popularity of the café, known as Joe’s Homemade and now open seven hours a day, that has turned them into Savannah’s latest overnight success story.
“The café is bustling to the point we’re looking at additional locations,” Holland said. “It’s beyond our expectations.”
Joe’s Homemade took top honors Thursday at the Small Business Chamber of Savannah’s annual awards ceremony. Paskevich and Holland were named Savannah’s “small business of the year” by the group. The Small Business Chamber is an independent organization not affiliated with the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce or its Small Business Council.
The Small Business Chamber also recognized winners in two other categories. Savannah Coffee Roasters owner Lori Collins was honored for the “new and emerging small business of the year.” She bought the wholesale coffee company 18 months ago and will open a retail location and coffee shop downtown later this year.
The “small business champion of the year” award went to Gulfstream Aerospace’s corporate small business officer, Marshall Tuck.
“Without Gulfstream, Savannah would fall off the map,” the event’s master of ceremonies, Jesse Blanco, read from Tuck’s nomination form. “They give so much to our community.”
Joe’s Homemade’s contributions to Savannahians’ palates — and the story behind the upstart business — dominated the conversation at the event. Paskevich and Holland are both retirees. Paskevich was an acclaimed furniture designer in South Florida while Holland was a director and faculty member at South University.
The two were better known, at least in social circles, for their dinner parties. Paskevich handled the cooking while Holland entertained, and friends often asked them to head up their own get-togethers.
“Everyone told us we should get into the catering business,” Holland said. “We finally did.”
Joe’s Homemade went from a staff of two a year ago to eight now. The catering side is just as busy as the café — Joe’s Homemade catered two major events Thursday and has four scheduled for today.
Holland was mum on future Joe’s Homemade locations, although he acknowledged they do like their current midtown location near Candler and Memorial hospitals. The existing café is on the corner of Waters Ave. and 70th St.
SMALL BUSINESS CHAMBER AWARD WINNERS
• Small Business of the Year — Joe’s Homemade, café and catering (Ted Paskevich and Don Holland)
• New and Emerging Small Business of the Year — Savannah Coffee Roasters (Lori Collins)
• Small Business Champion of the Year — Marshall Tuck, Gulfstream Aerospace