When you’re a small business owner, every cent counts. Looking for ways to save their small business money, sisters Qini Kear and Qina Cibulskis started another small business, Banyan Food Service.
“What is it we can do for our restaurant to save ourselves money?” Qina asked. The answer came in the form of packaging. “We want to be able to provide small businesses like ours with quality product at affordable prices,” she continues.
Banyan Food Service specializes in disposable packaging and other restaurant essentials. The sisters offer a variety of products suitable for all scales of restaurant, from microwaveable containers for high-end to carry-out locations, to cutlery, chopsticks, foam containers, plastic platters and other products for catering. The company is working to find more eco-friendly products that are appealing to a larger number of consumers.
However, product offerings are not limited to just packaging, Banyan Food Service also supplies commodities that every kitchen uses like sugar, flour, rice and oil, along with a large variety of Asian goods and tropical drinks.
The sisters don’t want to just provide a product to their customers – they want to educate them on the best options, and even have them test products.
“We have a showroom and they have everything right in front of them,” Qini says. “We really wanted to provide a space where owners could come in and take a look at the product,” Qina reiterates. Customers see and feel products in-person before they decide to order.
“We sell everything in bulk, but we also break down each item we carry,” Qina says. At the showroom, customers receive an education on options that might save their business money. Sometimes a simple switch in size of container can mean big savings. With the breakdown of bulk products, they can also suggest sauces and ingredients for restaurants to try.
With their focus on an ever-expanding variety of products, Banyan Food Service will also search for special items for customers.
“We really pride ourselves on customer service, nothing is too difficult or takes too long for us,” Qina says.
Customers can typically expect a quick turn-around though. Banyan Food Service offers next-day delivery. Also, since they are locally stocked, they can accommodate a customer who might need something in a pinch. The sisters strive to be flexible and want customers to be able to rely on them.
Banyan Food Service isn’t the sisters’ first entrepreneurial adventure – nor in a field they originally expected. Qina and Qini both hold degrees in Industrial Systems and Engineering from Ohio State, but after a few years in the corporate world at Fortune 500 companies, decide they would rather go into business together.
“We’re really just entrepreneurs at heart,” Qina says. In 2006 the sisters opened Q2 Bistro in Westerville, and just last year developed the idea for Banyan Food Service.
With a focus on helping small businesses, they seem to be reaching their target market.
“Most of our customers right now are all small business owners like ourselves,” Qini says. While well connected within the Asian restaurant community, Banyan Food Services is looking to expand their reach in the coming year.
While being small business owners comes with some challenges for the sisters, like staying informed about the newest products, or connecting with other business owners, they are right where they want to be.
“If you’re a small business owner, it takes a lot of hard work, but its also really rewarding at the end of the day because we’re doing what we wanted to do,” Qina says.
For more information, visit banyanfoodservice.com.