(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Ohio Cooperative Development Center and Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)
Jason Burns, co-owner of Cowaburger LLC, has a long history in the restaurant industry, “I started in the restaurant business when I went to school at Ohio State. I began working for a major restaurant in Columbus as a server. I went to Ohio State for a couple of years and couldn’t decide what I wanted to do so I moved back home.”
After moving home, Jason’s career path changed a bit to automobile sales, which he did for 5 years. When sales declined along with the economy, Jason was offered an opportunity to explore restaurant management with the restaurant he had worked for during college. Jason mentioned that it was a big lifestyle change, economically as well as time commitment to commute to the city from Hillsboro. He worked for 12 years in this industry working his way up the ladder as he learned how to manage restaurants.
Jason said, “I just got this crazy idea to start my own restaurant, and it seemed like a lot better idea than driving back and forth to the city every day after I’d done it for so long. My situation was a unique one because most people don’t just quit their jobs and have no idea how they are going to do it. It was a huge leap of faith for me.”
When Jason left his job, he had no clue what the first steps to business ownership was so he found out through a friend that Chris Smalley, a Business Development Specialist at Ohio State University South Centers Small Business Development Center, could help.
Chris helped Jason develop a business plan, and he shared with Jason many programs that are available to help individuals that are qualified. Jason says, “Without Chris, I wouldn’t be standing here today because I had $21,000 to my name, and it was the money I had to live off of while I was trying to get all this stuff done at the same time. He helped me find financing to make this a reality. I’m still working with him on plans for the future. I’ve learned a lot, but don’t know everything so I call Chris when I need input and to find out about current programs available to businesses.”
Jason and his co-owner Tim Eaton opened their hotdog-burger restaurant in September of 2013. Cowaburger is a restaurant in Hillsboro serving one-of-a-kind “wood fired” burgers and hot dogs. They serve 100% all Angus beef patties. All items are made fresh and served on homemade toasted Kaiser buns or hoagie rolls. Customers can even BYOB, “Build Your Own Burger.” They also have several specialty sandwiches to satisfy any appetite. Cowaburger created special homemade chili sauce and creamy coleslaw recipes to enhance the “wood fire” flavor of the meat. They offer delicious fresh cut fair style fries too. Customers can dine-in, drive-through, or use their catering services.
Jason shared that business is going great, better than initial financial projections. They currently employ 9 staff, but will be hiring a few more soon, and typically have a staff of 10 to 12 people.
Jason said, “We’ve grown in popularity. We’ve used Facebook as a big way to get the word out. Being a small business and just getting started, we had no budget for marketing so we used things like Facebook. We’ve gotten more “Likes” than any other restaurant in town, and it’s been a great medium to get the word out and share our message with the public about who we are, what we do, and the service we can provide for them.”
The restaurant is located at 1468 N. High Street, Hillsboro, OH 45133. Call the restaurant at 937-393-3833 or check them out on facebook at facebook.com/cowaburgerllc.
Jason, recently, opened a new location in Mt. Orab, Ohio. Take a look at their Facebook page to get the details.