The restaurant associated with Two Sisters Catering, 4800 W. Chicago Ave. in Chicago, quietly closed its doors this summer. As she empties the restaurant her business has called home for more than a year, owner Veah Larde reflects on the reasons for the decision to close her takeout restaurant and considers plans for the future.
The cost of doing business in the current climate has proven to be too much of a burden on the establishment known for churning out wholesome versions of soul food classics on the Soul City Corridor. Larde found herself “stealing her own finances” to make ends meet and decided in August that she would have to close the restaurant.
“This situation is not unique to me,” Larde said. “I was facing the same issues that all restaurants and catering businesses have faced over the past few years.”
Rising food prices played a key role in Larde’s decision to close the restaurant. She cobbled together the menu trying to figure out what she could offer that would appeal to her customers without ruining the business. She reduced the amount of meat she offered, focused on vegetarian options, and eliminated her fish offerings altogether.
“I used to offer fish twice a week, but the price got so high that I took it away,” Larde said. “I must have lost my crowd of fish. It was a bitter pill to swallow because I had clients who liked to eat certain foods on certain days.
When soaring butter and egg prices began to impact the bakery side of her business and slow restaurant foot traffic forced her to cut staff, Larde began to re-evaluate her business model. . She founded Two Sisters in 2012 as a restaurant business and never intended to have a restaurant. She became a confident business owner after finding her way to the West Side’s Hatchery food incubator in 2018 and earned the respect of her community when she became a vendor at the weekly Austin Farmer’s Market. The storefront fell to her knees and despite her best efforts to make brick and mortar thrive, she had to admit, after looking at the numbers, that restaurant orders and her savings were keeping the doors open. The restaurant could no longer sustain itself and something had to change.
“My heart aches for my elderly customers who would come and buy me three meals at a time,” Larde said. “They know they can always find me at the farmers market, but that part of the closing was sad. They are like family to me.
Larde has chosen to close the restaurant to once again make catering his top priority and will return to his home base at The Hatchery. She has established a relationship with Marla’s Lunch which partners with small businesses to provide hot lunches in schools without cafeteria staff. Two Sisters is currently posted to Providence St. Mel’s in East Garfield Park and St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest. Larde is eager to expand this type of cohesive catering and will consider small to medium sized private events for clients who understand the Two Sisters culture.
“Two Sisters has always been about delivering amazing healthy foods for southern food lovers,” Larde said. “And it still is. Southern food can be healthy, and you can always have room for that snack or treat.
Additionally, the entrepreneur is exploring an e-commerce option for its popular bakery and expansion opportunities for its savory menu offerings in commercial grocery stores through its participation in 37 Oaks University, a development and design lab. business learning for entrepreneurs.
“I’m not sad,” Larde said. “I am well placed. You have to keep your head on a pivot in this business, but I think breaks like this happen so you can get it right.