Gracie’s Bulldog Grille
Orangeburg, New York
Meet AJ and Jen, the multifaceted husband and wife duo. As entrepreneurs, they know the ins and outs of running a business and the strenuous work that comes along with it. AJ, a longtime chef of 25 years, and Jen, a massage therapist, took significant leaps at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the global pandemic, the couple hoped to open up a brick-and-mortar cafe in Highland Falls, New York. However, their plans quickly changed, and AJ and Jen realized they had to pivot. Their solution? Open a food truck instead. Located in Orangeburg, New York, Gracie’s Bulldog Grille Food Truck became AJ and Jen’s plan A.
As they developed their business plan, COVID-19 was not the only obstacle for AJ and Jen. As food truck owners, they had to maneuver through different laws and regulations, which initially made it difficult for Gracie’s Bulldog Grille to find a home.
“After our launch, we were closed down within two days,” says AJ.
Despite this, the couple persisted and parked their truck in Orangeburg without any complications. Although AJ and Jen’s pivot has been successful, the survival of Jen’s massage business, Feel Body Works, has been vital to the success of their startup food truck.
“That’s where the loans come in. The massage business has to support the family still,” says Jen.
With the help of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding, we provided Jen with a loan to keep her massage business up and running. Receiving a PPP loan meant that they could still support their family with income from Jen’s business and continue to focus on growing Gracie’s Bulldog Grille. Maintaining two small businesses during a pandemic is not an easy feat, but as a family of entrepreneurs, they remained resilient, and everyone in the family pitched in to help. As a result, Gracie’s Bulldog Food Truck continues to grow, providing residents with mouth-watering comfort food. In addition to weekday orders, the couple reserves Saturdays for catered events, proving to be a success thus far.
“I created a kitchen on wheels, built out the truck so I can cook almost everything I’ve done in my other restaurants,” says AJ.
Gracie’s Bulldog Grille serves a wide array of classic and delicious comfort food—from blackened chicken sandwiches to French onion grilled cheeses. We are very proud to share AJ and Jen’s story and be a part of their small business journey. The couple sustained Jen’s massage practice and began an entirely new business venture within a year—during a global pandemic. We encourage you to stop by Gracie’s Bulldog Grille to grab a quick and delicious bite and support a local business. For more on what they offer, visit https://graciesbulldoggrille.com/, and for more on our impact, visit https://30years.communitycapitalny.org/.