Client Name: Jilan Hall-Johnson
Business Name: The Sassy Biscuit Co.
Business Website: https://www.thesassybiscuit.com/
SBDC Advisor's Name: Warren Daniel
If you’re a parent than you know the struggle is real…the dreaded dinner time struggle. You cook up this delicious, nutritious meal and still, those little noses often turn up as an “eww, I don’t want to eat that” comes out of their precious little mouths.
Jilan Hall-Johnson, Owner of the Sassy Biscuit Company in Dover, military wife, and mother of three children was well aware of how dinners can go down. Instead of picking that battle, though, she opted to turn the dinner time funk into fun, capitalizing on her family’s favorite meal of the day: breakfast.
Then, the simple act of watching TV set a big idea into motion. Jilan, who’s a culinary arts school graduate, was watching a show on Food Network about waffles. They showcased different types of waffles from around the country, and out of nowhere, Jilan got the idea for a biscuit waffle; something she’s not sure even existed before she thought of it.
As she worked on the recipe, it occurred to her that this could be a concept for a restaurant. Wondering how she could expand on this idea, she worked on the recipe for eight months and began taking business classes at the local SBDC in San Diego where she lived at the time.
Jilan’s idea could not have come at a better time. She was working for the Warrior Transition Unit, which was preparing to shut down all their units across the country. But, when they offered her a promotion, she had to turn it down. It meant a move to Georgia and the Marines were not prepared to move her husband there. They did, however, want to send him to Montana.
With the thought of another move, the memories of when they first moved to San Diego came flooding back. She shares, “As a military spouse it is difficult to find employment because of the constant moving.” She recalled going on 30 interviews that all ended in rejection. So, rather than stress herself out by being back on the job hunt in Montana, she decided to take a chance at opening a business.
After putting their life savings into it, emptying her 401-K and doing tons of research, The Sassy Biscuit Co. was born; first in Billings, Montana and then later the second location in Dover, NH that opened in August 2020.
The Sassy Biscuit Co. is a super elevated, fast- casual bruncherie with the motto, “Bringing Big City Living to Small Town Plates” and boy do they ever. At the Sassy Biscuit, guests are treated to a restaurant-style feel with scratch-made goodness, delivered at the speed of “fast food.” And, as their website notes, when you dine at The Sassy Biscuit, you’re not just a guest; you’re family.
“The Sassy Biscuit is me,” says Jilan. “I really want people to feel like they’re eating at my home, because those were some of my fondest memories, eating around the kitchen table at my house or my grandparents’ house. So that aspect was very important to incorporate into who we were as a business.”
NH SBDC business advisor Warren Daniel has been a support to the Dover Sassy Biscuit from the very beginning; even before Jilan knew she wanted to open a location in NH. Having worked with SBDCs in other states, Jilan knew they were a great resource, so she believed it was necessary to bring them in when going into a new city and state.
The initial meeting to discuss the potential opportunity of opening in NH was set up to include Jilan’s team, her business partner, and Warren, so he’s been there since the beginning. When they arrived in NH and stayed for a week, Jilan says, “Warren spent so much time with us showing us different things about NH, taking us to different businesses and just being super instrumental in everything that a business owner needs to know about coming to a location they’re not familiar with.”
Jilan adds that Warren was helpful in giving them contacts for realtors, the city of Dover, the Chamber of Commerce and more. “Just resource after resource after resource,” says Jilan.
Since opening its doors, Warren has continued to play an active role in supporting Jilan and her business. Jilan jokes, “Warren is there even when you don’t want him to be…that’s how amazing he is.” Every step of the way he has been there, whether she needed ideas or contacts for marketing, help with staff retention and more.
“The SBDC has been our cheerleader and our biggest support,” comments Jilan. She adds “opening a business is not easy, it takes a village. The SBDC is a big part of that village. There are so many obstacles to overcome and so much you don’t know, the resources provided by the SBDC are essential to help you navigate them.”
Today, the Sassy Biscuit is ready for guests to discover comfort food – elevated. And for those who fancy dinner over breakfast, the Sassy Biscuit moonlights as Jook a Chicken Joint for the dinner crowd, so there’s something for everyone!
And when asked, “why New Hampshire?” Jilan responded, “After spending a week in NH, how could you not fall in love with it?”