Chef Gregory Collier was just a young cook employed in a wings restaurant when he fell in love, twice. There he found his passion was specialty foods and their preparation and he quickly advanced from line cook to kitchen manager. The wings joint was also where that he met his future wife and business partner, Subrina.
After graduation from the Scottsdale Community College Culinary Program, Collier worked in different upscale restaurants including the Phoenician Resort where his time as a breakfast chef helped him perfect his technique in breakfast foods, particularly eggs.
In 2012, Greg and Subrina decided they wanted to move to South Carolina and they felt the Rock Hill area would be a perfect location to open a cafe. After much searching, they found real estate on Mt. Gallant Road that had been a restaurant for more than twenty years, so they felt the location was logical and would help them succeed.
The couple had $20,000 to invest and a burning desire to create a restaurant that focused on using fresh local food sources for produce, herbs, eggs and cheese. They decided to focus on Collier’s skills with egg preparation and call their place The Yolk Cafe. While Chef Collier focused on food, his wife Subrina made sure her own personal business goal was met — providing the best possible service to insure that customers return.
The Colliers sought help with their new venture from the Rock Hill Area SBDC where they met business consultant Carol Daly and Winthrop Region SBDC director Larry Stevens.
“Carol and Larry provided us with marketing tips particularly with our website and the social media we already had going. They also helped us find an accountant,” Collier said. One of the things that he found most helpful was the encouragement to take small steps and make small investments that can help their business grow over time.
“Larry helped us to stay grounded, as well as motivated,” Collier recalled.
As with any small business The Yolk Cafe functioned at a loss in the beginning, but they were soon turning a profit. “We made a $300 profit during the sixth month and revenue has grown ever since,” Collier said. “Our sales are up around $35,000 a month now and we are seeing a good profit from that each month.” Recently The Yolk has been mentioned on WCNC Charlotte news as one of the best breakfast places in the Charlotte metro area. The Yolk Cafe was also voted York County’s best breakfast and was featured in the magazines Edible Charlotte and Creative Loafing Charlotte.
In addition to providing a fulltime job for both of the Colliers, The Yolk Cafe also employs three full time people in the kitchen (two are transitioning from the penal system) and five wait staff to fill the seven day per week schedule. Most of their employees hail from Rock Hill and they continue to look to the local talent pool.
The Yolk Cafe also received additional business counseling through a projects conducted by the business school at Winthrop University where the Rock Hill Area SBDC is located. “Those projects also helped us increase our bottom line,” Collier said.
“It was a pleasure working with Subrina and Greg,” Stevens said. “They had a very specific vision and the right entrepreneurial attitude to make it work. They just needed a little guidance in how to go about things.”
“When I meet new people interested in starting a business, I always tell them to go see Larry. Larry and Carol went way above and beyond what they were required to do to help us,” Collier said. “The Rock Hill Area SBDC was, and still is, one of the most essential components of the success of our restaurant.” Because of the SBDC, Winthrop and the local community the Colliers are looking to open the first Charlotte location in the near future.