USC Small Business Program Helps Local Restaurateur Cope With Adversity
For over 45 years, the Dulan family has owned and operated several restaurants in South Los Angeles and South Bay. Adolf and Mary Dulan laid the foundation for the family business by opening a chain of burger stands in the Crenshaw neighborhood of South LA
Their son, Greg Dulan, joined the team after graduating from Howard University and pursuing a brief stint in corporate banking. He became very familiar with the ups and downs of small business ownership.
There have been some ups: Hamburger City has gone from one location to five, including one in Marina Del Rey.
Then the valleys followed. The family has closed all of their locations in South LA due to a combination of high crime, low finances, and the difficulty minority-owned businesses have in securing funding. The Dulan family business was in trouble.
In a last ditch effort, Adolf Dulan has switched from “green cabbage burgers and fries, fried chicken and overnight peach cobbler,” said Greg Dulan. The restaurant was renamed Aunt Kizzie’s Back Porch, and it “took off like a rocket.”
“It was the first time you could get soul food in the Westside,” he added. The restaurant’s success led to the opening of Dulan’s on Crenshaw and Dulan’s Soul Food Kitchen in Inglewood.
Creating a new strategy, using the Bridges to Business approach, takes my business to the next level.
Mandatory home security orders and COVID-19 shutdowns, however, presented a new set of challenges for Greg Dulan and his businesses, with a new low looming. For the second-generation restaurateur – now the sole owner and operator of the family business – he had to find ways to survive.
He was emptying his inbox when he came across an email from USC’s Bridges to Business program.
“At the time, we were in the midst of COVID and a lot of the companies in the program were struggling – including me,” Dulan said. He joined the program seeking guidance and creating new direction for Dulan on Crenshaw to follow once the COVID situation subsides.
The program, which went virtual last spring, helps small businesses create a strategic growth plan, while benefiting from business advice and mentorship. The program also helps participants develop marketing and financial management strategies.
“The program came at the right time,” said Dulan. “I started to apply the tools even before the end of the program. Creating a new strategy, using the Bridges to Business approach, takes my business to the next level.
USC’s Small Business Programs Support Local Entrepreneurs Who Need Help
With the insight and knowledge he gained through the program, Dulan led his business through uncharted territory. He created his strategic growth plan to not only help the family business survive, but also grow during the pandemic. He focused on catering opportunities; his restaurant was selected to participate in the City of Los Angeles Elderly Meal Emergency Response Program. Dulan’s was one of 40 restaurants in the program that delivered more than 4 million meals to the elderly and those in need. His restaurant also provided catering for the construction staff at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. Both of these efforts helped her business survive and provided her with capital to plan for the future.
“The neighborhood is changing rapidly,” he said. Billion-dollar Crenshaw / LAX transit project is changing neighborhood dynamics, making it more pedestrian-friendly, as is adding more than 2,000 housing units within a two-mile radius of Dulan on Crenshaw. The restaurant is undergoing a major renovation to increase its capacity and efficiency in order to manage new business that arrives in the community.
I love to be a positive influence and give back to the community in which I grew up.
Dulan’s entrepreneurial spirit has shifted into high gear, opening the doors to new ventures. He partnered with Kim Prince to open Hotville Chicken at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza and started a food truck called Dulanville, a dual-branded business that allowed him to reduce his carbon footprint while allowing him to serve his cuisine throughout. the city.
He also participates in USC’s Trojan Shop Local, a program that supports local and diverse small businesses around USC.
“It takes him to another level. It’s more formalized, ”Dulan said, adding that he will build two ghost kitchens within a half-mile radius of the University Park campus to optimize delivery to the USC community. “This is going to be of great benefit to Dulan Soul Food and Hotville Chicken.”
Dulan, who still uses the strategic growth plan he created during his time in the Bridges to Business program to find funding for his businesses, hopes to have a positive impact in the community.
“I have been here in the community for a long time,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of change over the years, and I’ve seen a lot of companies come and go, but I’m still here. I love to be a positive influence and give back to the community in which I grew up.
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