BARBARA DEVAN, 32, of Southwest Philadelphia, is chef, owner and CEO of Tasties, a soul-food restaurant on 52nd Street above Girard in West Philadelphia. This month she got city approval to run a food truck in University City. She plans to open a second Tasties restaurant next month on Germantown Avenue near Queen Lane in Germantown.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Tasties?
A: I started Tasties in North Philadelphia in 2007. But after a year, I took a break to really find myself. In 2012, I was bartending in University City and the space above the bar had a kitchen. The owner knew I loved to cook and suggested I rent the kitchen. I signed a one-year lease, but there were ups and downs. Then I found a storefront in West Philly and opened Tasties last August. I started with a small menu, built a customer base and gradually expanded the menu.
Q: How would you describe the Tasties brand?
A: Tasties is food for the soul. We cook a little different. I don't cook off a recipe. I cook home-style, which I learned from my grandmother and mother.
Q: What's behind the name Tasties?
A: It's a powerful name and it stuck. I don't think we have a landmark [soul-food] restaurant known outside Philadelphia, and that's what I want Tasties to be.
Q: Your customers?
A: We have mainly African-Americans who patronize us at the West Philly location. We also have a food truck near Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, so we have a more-diverse group there, lots of students.
Q: How did you find this location in Germantown?
A: I get so many calls and clientele from people in Germantown and Mount Airy and West Oak Lane who travel to West Philly. They kept asking, "When are you coming up [to Germantown]?"
Q: What's the game plan?
A: I didn't expect to open up a second location this soon. My next move? I want to go inside the airport.
Q: There's a lot of politics involved with that.
A: Yeah, I have to challenge myself. I put big goals before myself. But being downtown also has some appeal.
Q: What's been the biggest challenge growing the biz?
A: Last year was challenging because getting ready for Tasties put me behind in my mortgage and other bills. I had a choice: pay the bills or save for Tasties. I'm blessed because today I'm not in arrears with any of my bills.
Q: How big a business?
A: We took in six figures in 2013.
A: Six, including me.