LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A local woman is opening a second restaurant, after surviving the recession with her first. Darla Belland says it's a dream come true, but also the result of very hard work and near-failure during poor economic times.
"It has been very difficult, very tough, people don't realize the expenses in running a restaurant. But we made it and we are going with a second location now," said Belland.
She opened her first place, Darla's Restaurant, on St. road 80 east of Ft. Myers, in June, 2008. At that time, companies were laying off people and southwest Floridians were losing their homes every day. Belland says some people called her crazy to open then, and she admits she often had real challenges covering her bills month to month.
She says the most surprising part of the business has been the constantly rising costs of just about everything - from food to gas to cooking oil to dishwasher repairs. "It stunned me, how fast those costs go up, even in a tough economy. Very hard to keep up with the costs," she told WINK News.
"I may have been little crazy to do that, but it worked. We have good food, good service, a family atmosphere, some karaoke on some nights, and the locals supported us. That saved everything," said Belland.
Now she is opening her second place, another Darla's Restaurant, on U-S 41 in North Fort Myers. She has gained confidence after surviving 4 and a half years in a very tough business.
"I am not quitting. We are going to make it," she told WINK News.