Getting to Know: Beth Black
Where you grew up: I was raised in Manassas, but, honestly, I would have to say I grew up in Atlanta. I had some really great—and some pretty bad—times down there.
Where you went to school and college: VIRGINIA TECH! GO HOKIES!
Career background prior to Foode: I was a journalist (executive producer) at the FOX-owned affiliate in Atlanta, FOX 5/WAGA–TV.
How you met your business partner, Joy Crump, and decided to go into business together: I met my business partner, Joy, in the newsroom at FOX 5. We instantly became best friends. I encouraged Joy to follow her dream, which was in the culinary arts. I watched her go to school and juggle that with two jobs (FOX 5 and cooking at Woodfire Grill), and I became so inspired that I knew I had to partner with her. I believe in her so much.
Why you shifted from journalism to restaurant ownership: I had a wonderful, safe job. I could see my future: I would work and work and work until I made it to the nation’s top market for news, New York City. Then, I would continue to work so hard and report on other people’s lives—while never really taking a chance on my own life.
So, much to the shock of my parents, who loved my relatively safe lifestyle, I jumped into small business ownership. I wanted to see if I could succeed there.
Why you chose Fredericksburg, and specifically downtown Fredericksburg, to open Foode: We decided to try a brick-and-mortar store during the height of the recession, so we had to plot carefully. At the time, we were in Atlanta, and Georgia was a state that depended heavily on the housing industry. Obviously, the recession devastated it—so opening a business there at that time was not a good idea.
Joy spent a lot of time in California, but it’s so expensive there we couldn’t afford to take a chance as a startup. I studied Virginia and how the recession was impacting it, and it seemed to be our best choice.
That said, Joy had never lived in Virginia and was a bit intimidated to come here. The only place in Virginia I would take Joy was Fredericksburg. I drove her up the morning of the 2009 “Great Train Race” and told her to stand at the corner of William and Caroline streets and watch the people.
She instantly fell in love with the people here and the vibe of the community. Love is one thing, and practicality is another—so we spent about a year and a half after the train race studying the economics of downtown, meeting with the types of farmers we would need to launch our business, discussing plans with the Economic Development Authority and finding the right spot to launch Foode.
We also knew we needed a strong support group. My family has been in Virginia since 1984, and I knew that while my decision to open a small business was frightening to my parents, I could count on them and the rest of my family for all types of support. And, we needed a lot of it.
What has made Foode a success: We don’t use that word yet.
Any expansion plans going forward: We’re always up to something.
Thoughts on Fredericksburg area as a place to do business and live: I can tell you this: There’s only one place where I would open my next and my next business, and that’s Fredericksburg. There is something wonderful happening here, and I’m lucky to be witness to it. I’m excited about the Main Street Program. I’m excited about the wonderful little shops downtown. I’m excited about all that’s offered at UMW’s Small Business Development Center. I love the spirit of entrepreneurship in this region.
There are people here who are truly vested in seeing small businesses succeed and are willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
Hobbies: I love to exercise—but mainly because exercise has become my therapy. It’s my only time to focus solely on me.
Favorite book: I’m more of a magazine and newspaper reader. However, I did just finish “Rumsfeld’s Rules,” and it was fantastic. I’m now reading Richard Branson’s “Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School.”
Favorite TV shows: “Scandal,” “The Good Wife” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” I also love cartoons. I don’t think I’ve missed an episode of “King of the Hill,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “American Dad” and “Family Guy.” I also love “The Eric Andre Show.”
Favorite movie: Nothing pops in my head, but I’m a sucker for a good romantic comedy.
Describe your perfect day: I really do love to work, and I love my job and I love Foode—so it would involve working for sure. It would also involve hanging out with people who make me laugh, and eating great food.