L.A. stories of inspiration and success

L.A. stories of inspiration and success

Harris Brown, owner of the LA area My Fish Stop restaurants, serving happy customers at his North Hollywood location
BusinessSource Helps Restaurant Expand

Harris Brown, a Black and Native American disabled veteran, grew up in Louisiana. When he settled in Los Angeles, he opened My Fish Stop, a Gulf-style fish fry soul food restaurant in Sherman Oaks, to bring his family’s food to the region.

Harris worked closely with Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC), operator of the South LA and Watts BusinessSource Centers (BSC), to establish his restaurant. BusinessSource Manager Adrian Veliz referred Harris to LevelUp, a free series of monthly business classes.

“Adrian was amazing in making sure I had access to the proper resources needed to succeed,” Harris said. “My business wouldn’t have made it through the pandemic without his help.”

Through the LevelUp program, Harris participated in an operational style assessment, which offered insights on areas of improvement. Harris also worked one-on-one with Renee Moncito, VSEDC director of programs, who helped him identify why he experienced strong reactions in certain transactions. He then received guidance on being more self-aware in these situations, which led him to become more approachable and created space for him to move his business forward.

“Both Adrian Veliz and Renee Moncito were the best things from VSEDC to happen to my business,” says Harris Brown. In fact, the one-on-one BusinessSource Center assistance led him to three events that positively changed the course of his business.

First, Harris began thinking about applying for a small business loan. Harris’ business coach provided him with technical assistance and he successfully obtained a $45K business loan for working business capital. Second, he took Adrian’s suggestion to become a certified Disabled Veteran Business Owner, which made his business more favorable to municipal contract opportunities. Third, as a result of the LevelUp program and his one-on-one coaching with Adrian, Harris applied for contracts to help support his fledgling restaurant. He ended up winning a substantial contract to supply Los Angeles County facilities with prepped vegetables.

Harris returned to the BSC for guidance on how to scale up his business to meet contract requirements. Adrian connected him to another VSEDC client who had the capacity and facility to fulfill the food preparation. With Harris as the prime contract holder, he subcontracted to his new partner, who continues to partner with him today.

The new County contract brought in enough monthly income to keep Harris’ Sherman Oaks restaurant afloat and accrue some savings. After My Fish Stop had been open for three years, Harris decided it was time to open another location in North Hollywood.

“Adrian was amazing in making sure I had access to the proper resources needed to succeed,” Harris said. “My business wouldn’t have made it through the pandemic without his help.”

EWDD’s BusinessSource Centers offer resources to microenterprises, small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in the City of Los Angeles. These efforts work to revitalize the local economy by helping business owners launch viable businesses, grow revenue streams, and stabilize and create jobs. Visit EWDD’s BusinessSource Centers and learn how EWDD's Business Services can help businesses of all sizes.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of September 12, 2022. Read this issue and more.

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