Today we’d like to introduce you to Candy Murphy.
Candy , let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I had always loved to cook and entertain from a very young age, my mother and grandmother would entertain frequently and as daughters we become the “catering troop”.
My journey is not a typical path, it has taken a lot of twists and turns. I spent most of my early years working in restaurants doing a variety of things, short order cook, serving, bartending. Then moved away from the service industry into high tech, I was an executive for over 22 year had a very successful career in marketing, merchandising and sales. Still loved to cook and entertain and held onto a notion that someday I would step off the grid and go back to school and become a chef and open my own restaurant.
I took that step in 2010, attended Cambridge School of Culinary Arts with my daughter and both of us graduated with honors. Trying to figure out what I wanted to ultimately do with my culinary education, I began having conversations with my instructors and peers, that led to an opportunity to create a pop up in an existing restaurant for a season on Cape Cod. In spring of 2012, I opened Simply Adrian’s.
I learned some much in a very short period of time, I was tasked with bringing up a new concept, designing the space to designing the menu, hiring, training all in a few short months. The most valuable lessons were learned in the kitchen, Adrian became my mentor and infused all the knowledge and tricks of the trade he learned over his 28 years into my brain. That is the kind of wisdom that usually takes years. Summer ended, I left the cape with new found wisdom and a definitive path. I would open a restaurant, but it had to be in my community.
I worked as a teacher at the culinary school and at legal seafood to pay the bills, while I began my research on the food scene in Worcester. Also, spent a lot of time researching what people were looking for. How did that match my cooking style? After a lot of hours of research and networking, the concept was born. I wanted to have a fast/quick casual concept where everything is made from scratch, what we didn’t make we would partner with a local sources. Food would be seasonally inspire It would be comfortable space, community involved. A place for people to grab a latte or linger over a craft beer, meet a friend for lunch etc.
Then the search began, I tapped into the local SBA office for help with my business plan, I worked closely with the cities economic development office for potential sites and friendly landlords that saw the value this type of concept brought to the downtown area. It was new, innovative and there wasn’t anything like it in 2014 in the downtown area.
Twists, turns and trials and tribulations followed, which landed my in the current situation I am in. I am a city funded incubator that I was the recipient of after a 6 month long vetting process which included a cooking demonstration where I had to present menu items, their packaging, talk about the operations and execution, marketing to the panel making the choice.
It’s been almost 2 years and Figs & Pigs has been able to establish itself as a favorite destination for a quick breakfast and lunch for the downtown population of business professionals and students, occasional visitors that venture downtown to try us out.
Since I had to modify my original business plan based on the location, the layout of the café, limited seating and parking. I am in the process finding my forever home, where I can see the original plan come to life, making way for another entrepreneur to take over the incubator!
I have learned so much, but this is an every changing business and I am looking forward to expanding the business to include dinner service, brunch, full bar with rotating craft beers and an affordable by the glass program for wines, featuring unique varietals from around the world that are bound to please most palates. Keeping to our roots of fresh, from scratch seasonally inspired foods that are wholesome and delicious.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was not easy nor is running a restaurant easy. The trials tribulations and twists and turns are many. The path – Finding landlords that were willing to put money into their space, old buildings are not budget friendly. Costs for build outs especially in older properties is very high. Operational – 1. Staffing going from managing professional fulltime associates to part time labor was huge shift. Their motivations are so different, so I learned to tune into them and it became easier, also finding people you can afford to hire that have the right skills is a constant battle. 2. Keeping up with social media, it has become the standard at the table, you have to be promoting yourself on social media, it’s not easy to learn how to use these tools, also find the time to consistent and good at it. 3. Staying true to your brand and not falling into wanting to be all things to all people. You have to realize you will never make everyone happy and that’s ok. 4 Being resourceful, as they say “sht” happens, every single day, I have learned to stay calm and think quick on my feet. 99.9% of the time everything works out.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Figs & Pigs Ktichen + Pantry – what should we know?
Real food, nothing processed. Quality, not quantity, food that is prepared with love and respect. If it’s not in season I cure it, preserve it or don’t serve it. That is our motto, Our menu is playful and entices our guests to try foods and flavors they would never think they would like. It makes me happy that people trust us enough to try something new that makes me proud! My team of course, we work hard to keep the quality and consistency high,
I think our differentiator is our vision of what food & customer interactions should be, Food should be playful and healthful and sized appropriately. It should feed our bodies what they need, but also delight us at the same time and we do this in a quick service environment. Customer interactions should also be fun and light, we use customers’ names, we have a lot of regulars that we know their kids & pets, we engage with every guest that comes. We care that they walk in happy, but more importantly they walk out happier.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Keeping a clear vision, making sure you are organized, you communicate effectively and have the ability to connect with people and build relationships. Plus a big dose of patience.
I know that the years I spent in the business world give me a leg up in not only being a chef, but being a business owner.
- Address: 50 Foster Street
Worcester, Ma 01608
- Website: www.figsandpigskitchen.com
- Phone: 508-929-0701
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: figgsandpigskitchen
- Facebook: figsandpigskitchen