Finding a New Strength: A Booth Graduate’s Road to Reopening Her Restaurant
Karen Jesso felt worried for the future when her restaurant was forced to close amid the pandemic. But after weeks of innovating through the obstacles, Jesso now sees the situation as a valuable learning experience.
- By May 08, 2020
- Alumni Stories
Jesso reopened on May 1 for carryout meals only, while she awaits the state’s approval to open for dine-in service. She and the staff meal-prepped days in advance, chopping onions and making sauces. They turned perishable items into freezable dishes, such as ravioli, soup, and pastries. The restaurant’s regulars called in with support, telling Jesso they’d order as soon as Café Borgia reopened. Jesso recognized many of their voices from years of serving them; she teared up hearing their encouraging words. “We have a diehard base,” she said. “I just appreciate them so much.”
Much of Jesso’s strength and confidence in running her business, even amid a pandemic, come from her days at Booth. She took classes on pricing, production management, and statistics that she still thinks about today. Café Borgia’s formula for moving daily specials resulted from Jesso learning about just-in-time delivery, an inventory management strategy. “What do we use as meal specials? What we have in inventory, what we want to move,” she said. “I am so proud to have come through that school.”
Initially worried by the pandemic, Jesso says that running her business through it has been a priceless experience. The restaurant’s menu and business model allow it to be successful amid tough times, she says, and the obstacle of closing will allow them to improve skills like inventory and ordering, better preparing the restaurant for the future.
“This is something that’s going to make us stronger,” Jesso said. “And that’s what makes it priceless to me.”