Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kori Ellis, Founder of Lil Mamas Chicago Style Hoagy, located in Chattanooga, TN, USA

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Lil Mama's Chicago Style Hoagy is Chattanooga's newest hoagy shop, full of spunk, flavor, and 90s nostalgia. In July 2022, Kori and Michael Ellis purchased the business and were excited about expanding Lil Mama's brand. Lil Mama's doesn't just provide quality, delicious food. Our Crew is committed to building community. Our Mission is to always meet the needs of our customers with love, care, and perfectly crafted hoagies. Through consistent, predictable professionalism Lil Mama's will create a 5-star experience for all customers EVERY TIME!

Tell us about yourself

My husband and I were looking for a fun "second act" after long careers in education. When we found Lil Mama's, we knew it was the perfect fit for us! We are inspired each day to make a difference in the lives of our Crew and our customers. Our goal is to impact our community by bringing people of every ethnicity to our table and treating them like family.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Lil Mama's has seen consistent growth since we purchased the business last July. Streamlining operations and systems, expanding our hours and overcoming the staffing challenges that presented, and introducing new menu items have contributed to our increased profitability.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Owning a business is not for the faint of heart! The restaurant business is unpredictable in many ways. We have had to learn that having a slow day or a slow week does not mean we have done anything wrong and to be more focused on monthly averages than daily sales.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

Our top tips for starting, running, and growing a business today would include the following:

  1. Finding and relying on good mentors who know your business.
  2. Have sufficient cash reserves to see you through lean times and be willing to take risks.
  3. It is important in any business to put people first. When you put people (both Crew and customers) over product and profitability, the results will follow!

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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