Family owned Little Richard’s BBQ, a long-time local favorite notorious for its smoked meats, selection of sauces and five locations, fared well throughout the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Months of pandemic-related restrictions temporarily made life a bit harder for the Little Richard’s team, but Owner Stephen Karagiorgis, alongside his father Nick Karagiorgis (founders) and his partners Greg Karagiorgis and Harry Gallins, are thankful that the Little Richard’s Family came out of COVID’s challenges unscathed.
Although there were countless sleepless nights throughout the years 2020 and 2021, Stephen, Nick and the Little Richard’s management team had faith in their ability to weather the storm and roll with the pandemic’s punches. In fact, a large portion of Little Richard’s success can be attributed to its employees’ close-knit ties and thoughtful management techniques in order to keep morale boosted, compensation adequate and business booming.
COVID bringing life to a screeching halt for most did not stop the Little Richard’s BBQ team from keeping the ball rolling as safely and efficiently as possible. Take-out business rose sharply and has hardly declined since the lifting of state-wide restrictions and mandates. Long-standing Little Richard’s customers can still count on participating in each location’s Meal For Meal Mondays, where a meal is donated to a starving child for every meal purchased. Additionally, customers will be excited to see new “Mexicue” items on the menu for a Mexican twist on classic North Carolina barbecue. Order pulled pork tacos, brisket tacos and taquitos if you’re in the mood for southern eats with a southwestern flair.
With indoor gathering restrictions lifted throughout the state, local event planners and families frequently take advantage of Little Richard’s catering and bulk ordering menus to keep wedding and party guests happy. By taking advantage of Little Richard’s full-service catering, event hosts benefit from on-site staff and serving options. Choose from a wide variety of meats, sides, desserts and beverages that will suit your event and satisfy attendees.
As many other local restaurants and businesses are struggling with staffing shortages, the scarcity of employees has also had an impact on the team at Little Richard’s. Employees are currently working much harder to meet their customers’ needs than pre-COVID shifts of the past. While the restaurants’ kitchen and waitstaff might be spread a bit thin at the present time, Little Richard’s stands by the idea that management is key in maintaining a positive employee morale and preventing employees from experiencing burnout.
According to Stephen, “Little Richard’s is like a football team, where everyone plays a role and each position holds equal value. Our team is only successful if every position is performing at its highest potential.”
To create this atmosphere, management leads by example and shows mutual respect to everyone – a necessity in times of higher stress, when emotions are often flying high from customers and the crew. With inflation skyrocketing, an increased demand for new help and supply chain issues continuing to soar, the restaurant industry has been directly impacted by the pandemic’s many aftershocks. To guide the team throughout these trying times, managers at every location are willing to cover events for staff members unable to work, cross-train employees on multiple tasks and always keep an eye out for new help.
While the unexpected turn of events in early 2020 shook restaurant owners throughout the country to their core, management at Little Richard’s used all available avenues to provide for their team through forced restaurant closures. Leaders at Little Richard’s determined that it was most important to take their own needs out of the equation and focus on the greater good of their employees to ensure the longevity of their business, as well as team members’ physical and emotional wellbeing.
It’s possible that much of the staff at Little Richard’s BBQ feels so supported and cared for due to the business’s authentic family roots. Although many business owners shy away from the idea of working with family, Nick and Stephen embrace the opportunity to work together. Stephen finds perpetuating his father’s business to be rewarding, and employees reap the benefits of working for a business built upon a strong foundation of trust, respect and integrity.
Philanthropy and giving back to the community are also strong principles which Little Richard’s BBQ believes in. Stephen notes that these values had been long instilled by his father when he handled daily operations. In April, the Little Richard’s team worked alongside volunteers from the community and West Forsyth High School’s Key Club to participate in a meal packing event for the nonprofit organization Feed My Starving Children. Together, volunteers successfully donated 101,688 packed meals to hungry children worldwide, including those impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Learning to pivot and adjust business practices taught the Little Richard’s BBQ team valuable lessons and has only prepared them for life’s challenges in the future. As a resilient father-son business, Little Richard’s BBQ is excited to see life in the Triad finally back to normal, and is elated to welcome back old and new faces to experience its much-loved dining experience.
Interested in joining the Little Richard’s BBQ team? All locations are currently accepting applications. Email resumes to [email protected], or stop by one of the store’s locations in person to apply.
Browse each location’s menu at www.littlerichardsbarbeque.com, check out the team’s Facebook page and follow @littlerichardsbbq on Instagram to learn more.