Mina's Place: Spotlight On Minority Business
By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
This edition of The Perspective's Spotlight features Mina's Place, a minority owned restaurant, bar and night club. It is located in Gateway Shopping Center - between Jimmy Carter & Winter Chapel.
The owner of Mina Place, Ms. Wilhelmina R. Bestman, is a native of Liberia. She relocated from Bensalem, Pennsylvania November of 1995. Prior to coming to the United States, Mina, as she is affectionately known, owned a beauty salon and a boutique on Randall Street, Monrovia, Liberia. Like many Liberian business owners, the civil war forced her to relocate.
Our Roving Reporter interviewed Mina recently. Mina's story is an exciting one. When you meet her on a personal level, you will find her to be quite enterprising and determined to succeed. So far, she is doing phenomenally well where others have failed. Mina's Place is a great place to dine because the atmosphere is friendly and the food is inexpensive and delicious.
TP: Mina, congratulations and thanks for allowing THE PERSPECTIVE to feature your business in our Spotlight as the minority business for the July/Sept Edition.
MINA: Mr. Nyanseor, it is my pleasure!
TP: Mina, I am somewhat curious - could you tell me what made you to relocate to Georgia?
MINA: I first visited a friend in Atlanta, Georgia in 1986 for a week. During my first visit, I fell in love with Georgia. November 1995, I moved here for family reason. I personally selected Georgia because I felt that Georgia was a healthy environment for business. Also, I felt that Georgia was good for raising a family.
TP: Let suppose, I am meeting you for the first time and I don't know the kind of person you are, how will you describe yourself?
MINA: If you get to know me, you will realize up front that I am what you see. I do not pretend to be what I am not. I trust and believe in people until they prove otherwise. I am friendly and willing to lend a helping hand whenever I can.
TP: Mina, who are your business partners?
MINA: I am the sole proprietor of Mina's Place. However, quite recently - July this year, I entered into a contractual relationship with a Philippino. Based on the agreement, he will operate here by adding their cuisine to our menu in order to meet the growing needs of his clientele from the Philippines. This move will give Mina's Place a broad international outlook.
TP: How did you get in the restaurant business instead of the beauty salon and boutique?
MINA: I knew you were going to ask that question. When I moved here, I did an unofficial survey. I asked individuals that I knew here about the type of business they thought would be profitable. Most of the people I talked to suggested a night club with a restaurant.
TP: Who are your clientele?
MINA: When we newly opened the restaurant, most of our customers were Liberians. As time went on, I began to get other nationalities - Africans, Jamaicans and Americans. Currently, majority of my customers are Americans.
TP: What type of food do you provide here?
MINA: We provide mostly West African and specifically, Liberian cuisine. They include Jollof Rice, Cassava Leaf, Palava Sauce, Palm Butter, Checked Rice and Gravy, Collard Grain, Fried Plantain, etc.
TP: In order to remain in business this long, you must have a secret to your success. What is it?
MINA: Customer satisfaction! Your customers should always be your number one concern. Secondly, pay attention to their suggestions as well as their criticisms and be consistent in providing quality services - service with a smile and good attitude.
TP: Who are your closest competitors?
MINA: At first, it was Red Rooster Restaurant but they have since closed. Now there are some Liberians who operate from home. You know our people, they like new things - after a while they will look somewhere else. I wish them luck because all of us are struggling to make ends meet.
TP: Are you affected by them?
MINA: No. The reason being - majority of my customers are Americans. And if you want to profit from the type of business we are in, one must be able to attract various groups of people. This is what I did!
TP: How would you rate your night club performance?
MINA: According to what I have been hearing so far, most people who come here enjoy the friendly atmosphere and the music. I am told that DJ Washington David is the best in the Southeast. He plays to the satisfaction of our customers. His choice includes a variety of music - they range from Pop, Soul, R & B, Hip Pop, African and Reggae.
TP: Where do you want your business to be a year from now?
MINA: Perhaps move to a bigger place and expand my customer base!
TP: Every business has some philosophy, what is yours?
MINA: Mine is very simple. Treat others as you would have them treat you - with respect and dignity.
TP: If you had to start your business all over, what will you do differently?
MINA: I would be somewhat cautious. Trust most people a little different. You see, most people are not honest - they will tell you what you want to hear and that's it. When it comes to putting it into action, they are nowhere to be found.
TP: Would you agree with President Clinton that women business-owners are changing the face of American and the global economy, and that this change favors women entrepreneurs?
MINA: I tend to agree. There are certain advantages in being a woman. For example, men are the key to our success. They will easily patronize us than they will do another man with similar business. Apart from that, we make better business owners.
TP: Go girl, you are really sure of yourself!
MINA: I sure do! that's the key to any success.
TP: Well Mina, I thank you for affording THE PERSPECTIVE the opportunity to conduct this interview with you. We wish you continued success.
MINA: I thank you and THE PERSPECTIVE for selecting me. Please keep up the good work!
Visit Mina's Place - the atmosphere is pleasant, the food is excellent and the DJ is great.
Monday thru Thursday: Noon - 9PM
Friday & Saturday: Noon - Wee hours
Phone: (770) 242 - 0305