The dinner crowds haven’t been quite as large as he expected, something tempered by a somewhat unforeseen surge in lunch business. Pizza sales, which he thought would be the core of his revenue, have been equaled or surpassed by orders for sandwiches and salads. Sheets, however, will be the first to admit it still means people are coming through the door and it’s prompted only some adjustments in a business he says has “been a little harder than expected.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is a rare component Sheets incorporated into his initial business model.
As the Lexington native devised his plan, he decided to dedicate his operation to partnering with other local businesses. That means purchasing raw ingredients and other items from within the Bluegrass area, though that sometimes means higher prices or occasional availability issues. Sheets said he expects some of those speed bumps to evaporate as the seasons open up and his business continues to grow, with rock-solid relationships forming along the way.
“I think it’s terrific,” said Jim Betts, owner of 21-year-old Bluegrass Baking Company, which is located off Clays Mill Road and is one of Good Eden’s vendors. “It’s easy to talk about buying local, but to actually follow through … I really respect that. Our stuff isn’t as cheap as you can get some places, but he finds it worth his while to buy it and then promote that. That brings real value once you get established in a community. And at the same time we benefit from his purchasing from our bakery as opposed to a major restaurant supplier.”
Becoming integrated into the community will be vital to Good Eden’s success.
Located outside Man O’War and away from the conglomerates of chain eateries, Sheets envisions Good Eden becoming a destination location as word of its offerings continues to spread.
The foundation of its business, however, will come from residents in the immediate area, as well as patrons of nearby Southland Christian Church. Sheets says the short-term goal is to become a “neighborhood place and part of the community.”
His long-term vision is to have a handful of locations scattered throughout the Lexington area. But for now, Sheets says they’re still dealing with a lot of trial-by-error and “kind of making things up as we go.”
That means keeping things a little conservative for now. “Our goal for the first year? To stay open,” Sheets joked. “But I think we’re headed in the right direction.”