Career chef Kemar Ballentine-Harris’ business dream became reality with the opening of his own restaurant, Wings of Waco, in January 2020. To help get his business started, Ballentine-Harris used the services of the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Veteran Entrepreneur Program (VEP).
His culinary talent is indisputable, having prepared meals for former U.S. Presidents George Bush, Sr.; George Bush, Jr. and Barack Obama. His career further includes being a chef at the Ritz Carlton in Washington D.C. and on commercial cruise lines. Ballentine-Harris’ journey started when he joined the U.S. Army at age 17. He chose to be in foodservice because he learned to cook at an early age while fishing with his dad and preparing their catch.
Opening his own restaurant required market research and planning. That is where VEP was of value. “I worked with the Entrepreneur Program’s Christina Mortel for over a year. I sent her concepts that she would review along with my business plan and we would discuss,” said Ballentine-Harris. “She connected me with other brands through a conference call that helped with researching the market.” Ballentine-Harris added that through the TVC he acquired his Veteran Verification letter and assistance in filing official designation of LLC and DBA. Though self-financing took some courage, Ballentine-Harris quickly saw a return on his personal investment. He earned enough to pay one month’s rent on opening day. Ballentine-Harris credits this success “to my wife Amy telling me to focus on one concept and make it happen.”
Wings of Waco is located in downtown Waco, a few blocks from the VA, just a seven-minute walk. For full menu, hours and more, click on Wings of Waco.
Veterans owning their own businesses or wanting to start their own businesses may contact the TVC Entrepreneur team for assistance with a variety of business-related processes. To connect with a TVC Veteran Business Consultant, submit a request online, click Entrepreneur.