For Corey and Phallin Scott, owners of On Thyme Restaurant, the secret to their success is simple: They listen to their customers.
Since the Scotts struck out on their own in 2019, they’ve consistently grown their business in the direction of consumer demand. When the pandemic struck months after On Thyme Catering launched, the couple pivoted to selling their fare from a food truck. Soon after that, customers requested a more reliable way to enjoy On Thyme’s offerings: a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which opened at 918 Castle St. in November.
Phallin Scott listed the couple’s willingness to listen to customers’ calls by opening On Thyme Restaurant as their best business decision so far.
On Thyme first began amassing loyal customers with the fresh, creative food they served from the food truck in 2020. The Scotts describe their fare as “tavern food with a twist,” and Corey Scott experiments in the kitchen daily to dream up inventive specials to keep things interesting for customers.
As for the atmosphere, the Scotts were inspired to replicate the vibrant, celebratory vibes they enjoyed at Black-owned businesses visited during travels to Miami and Texas. Those restaurants offered an experience that was bigger than a bite to eat; from customer service to the art decorating the walls, the businesses were intentionally designed to ensure that customers had a good time, the Scotts said. The couple thought Wilmington could benefit from having something like that.
“There aren’t very many Black-owned restaurants here in Wilmington, so we felt like this was something that Wilmington needed, another Black-owned restaurant to build up what we already have,” Phallin Scott said.
Less than six months after On Thyme Restaurant opened, the Scotts are already devising ways to leverage their success to build community and give back, from sponsorships for local organizations to events spotlighting local artists and makers.
“We’re all about helping the next person,” Phallin Scott said.
Although On Thyme Catering paused while the pandemic halted some in-person gatherings, the couple is now seeing a resurgence of interest in their catering services. But the restaurant’s small kitchen is not equipped to meet the demand of both operations, Phallin Scott noted.
“Right now, we’ve been turning down a lot of catering. It would interfere with what we have going on in the restaurant, so therefore, we have to turn down a lot of things or push to get those caterings out before the restaurant opens,” she said, adding that the latter creates a chaotic work environment for staff.
Now the Scotts are brainstorming ways to once again grow their business to fulfill consumer demand. One option is to add a catering kitchen beside the restaurant, as the couple already own adjacent parcels at 912, 914 and 920 Castle St.
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