Alexis and Jordan Ruiz first opened the Munch Factory as a “hot plate” kitchen, selling and delivering meals to family and friends around the city. People enjoyed the food so much, they started thinking about transitioning to a sit down restaurant soon after. Today, the Munch Factory has locations in the Lower Garden District, Gentilly, and most recently the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.
We recently spoke to Alexis Ruiz to learn more about owning a restaurant and keys to survival during COVID-19, as well as how The Munch Factory is prioritizing the community, their staff and more.
What is your inspiration?
Our inspiration has always been our kids and New Orleans. We felt like authentic creole food is somewhat underrepresented in a city that is known for it. So, we wanted to take it and give it a fun twist, but always knew the flavors coming back to what New Orleans is really about. And our kids are an inspiration because they get to see and participate in growing a business and how much hard work it is. They learn about math, problem solving, people skills and more!
Favorite thing about living and working in NOLA?
The people have and will always be our favorite thing about New Orleans. New Orleans is real and authentic to the core. There is no sugar coating this city and that type of honesty is rare in most other places. We both lived in various other cities, but this is home.
Keys to survival during this time and ways your business operations may have pivoted?
We realized early on that the Sophie Wright location was going to have a harder time staying open without the tourists in town. We also knew that managing 2 restaurants and 2 kids during a pandemic would prove to be too much for us. So, we closed the uptown store after trying it out for a few weeks and that really helped us to take some stress out of a really stressful situation. We have also been listening to how our employees feel about next phases and next steps. They know that their safety is paramount to us, but their comfort is important too. We didn’t rush to open to dining room and as we were deciding, the cases began to rise again, so we have kept the dining room closed. It helped with labor costs, with social distancing of staff and overall moral.
Advice to young entrepreneurs?
Start small. You can have an idea and think it won’t be successful unless you come out full blast. That’s simply not true. We need to learn to grow on our own pace. Plant the seed, do it with love and grow as you see fit. And try to stay true to what is your ultimate vision and goal. Everyone will have an opinion. Listen to your heart.