Business of the Month-Palm Bay’s Business Friendly’s Subs & More thrives through the Pandemic
Friendly’s Subs & More, a deliciously casual restaurant local to Palm Bay, is serving mouthwatering sub and breakfast sandwiches, American classics like wings, and even signature desserts.
Business partners Leticia Thompson and Sophie Exantus started this Palm Bay gem, with help from business manager Monica Thompson. Palm Bay Live sat down with these female entrepreneurs to learn more about their restaurant and their inspiration.
How did you get started in the restaurant business and who or what has been your inspiration?
“We used to work for Publix. Leticia for 23 years and I [Sophie] was there for twelve. We felt the transition to our own restaurant was the next logical step.”
“Additionally, my daughter and Leticia’s granddaughter were our main inspirations. We wanted to have more time with them. Unfortunately, Leticia’s daughter died not too long ago, and so Leticia has been taking care of her granddaughter as promised to her daughter. Owning our own business gives us more time to devote to family and our girls.”
“Though some days can be hectic, overall, we have the flexibility to step way when needed. The ability to take time off or cover shifts has been great. Also, as our girls get older, they have been getting more involved with the restaurant, helping with clean up and greeting the customers, which has just increased the amount of time we get to spend together.”
What were your first thoughts when entering the restaurant business?
“It is a lot and some of what we’ve encountered has been unexpected. There is a lot that we are still learning as first time business owners. Overall, though, it’s going well. We want to expand, eventually.”
Speaking of unexpected, how has Friendly’s been coping during the pandemic?
“It’s been a roller coaster. When it first hit, the place was a ghost town. Business was slow and way down. We were stressed. A few months in, it slowly started to pick up, but then it dipped again.”
“It was and is hard to predict what’s going to happen next. It’s different from week to week.”
“Last year, we thought about closing due to the uncertainty. Thankfully, one of our amazing customers actually worked with us to create a great marketing campaign. She helps us get our name out there and engage the community. We were overwhelmed when the residents of Palm Bay started coming out and showing us so much love. We had so much support that we were running out of inventory!”
“Still, we expect that we will continue to see up and downs over the next few months. But the community truly loves us.”
As women of color, what advice do you have for future female entrepreneurs?
“Customer Service is the best thing and should be a primary focus. Making sure that everyone who comes in feels at home and part of your family is so important. We treat all our customers the same and strive for everyone to be comfortable.”
You’ve mentioned that Palm Bay has been supportive. As a place to do business, why did you choose Palm Bay?
“We are originally from Miami and Fort Lauderdale. However, Leticia has been a resident of Palm Bay for over 10 years.”
“We chose Palm Bay because we love the community and felt at home. Also, when we were looking for restaurant space, we just kept being drawn to the location that we are at now. We kept coming back to look at it and it felt right so, we decided to sign the papers.”
What are your best-selling items and why do you think they are so popular?
“Our Philly Cheesesteak and Heavenly’s Pot Roast are our most popular subs. The Philly is just so tasty. While I think people love the Pot Roast because it’s unique, it’s not something you can get everywhere. We only offer it on the weekend, and it sells out every time.”
“Also, even though we are a sub shop, our “Banana Pudding” is a top seller. I think it gives customers a comfort food feeling, a felling of nostalgia.”
Your business has 4.8 stars and 130 Google reviews. How does that make you feel?
“We love it. Every time I get a pop-up notification about another 5-star review, I’m so happy that we are selling something that people appreciate. We take a lot of pride in this. Even comments about the atmosphere or customer service are so appreciated. As a team, it’s what we aim for and we love to recognize our team members for a job well done.”
“It’s safe to say that subs are something that Leticia and Sophie know well. Their time working in the Publix Deli seems to have given them a lot of experience. Sophie says, “Once we decided to get into the business, we did our research, we were so focus, and the idea just took off.”
Be sure to check out this local spot and follow the Friendly’s Subs & More Facebook Page to learn more about their upcoming Wing Madness Event.
Friendly’s Subs & More
3425 Bayside Lakes Blvd SE, Suite 106
Palm Bay, FL 32909