Local businesses weather the storm of inflation

By Karen Stokes

Jason Alston, owner of Heaven’s Table BBQ on North Avenue (Photo/Jason Alston)

Businesses are facing major financial storms due to high inflation figures and the ominous cloud of COVID-19 that continues to hang over their heads.

Jason Alston, owner of Heavens Table BBQ, 5507 W North Avenue, used a variety of strategies to weather the storm and keep his business afloat.

At Heaven’s Table BBQ you can find a variety of menu items which includes a variety of smoked meats like brisket, ribs, pulled pork, excellent pastrami and sausages, as well as wings, sandwiches and sides .

“I want to start and say that COVID-19 was the first supposed disaster and the problem with businesses is that you always have to be ready for adjustments. I learned in culinary school when it comes to the restaurant industry, even when there’s no inflation you still have prices fluctuating up and down,” said Alston.

Alston says the restaurant business is a whole different animal.

Alston has a passion for cooking and has been cooking professionally for 13 years with a background ranging from Culinary MATC, to Cardinal Stritch to Marquette, he was well trained and up for the challenge.

Heavens Table BBQ offers the best meats including ribs, pastrami, brisket and sausages. (Photo by Earl Stokes)

Many businesses are also struggling with inflation. Raw materials and finished products are more expensive and workers demand higher wages. Owners have been forced to increase prices or reduce certain services.

“I had to raise my prices several times with my product and my customers weren’t too happy,” Alston said. “I also have to accommodate them too, so by raising the prices, I have enlarged my sides, you have to justify the price increase.”

“Every industry is impacted a little differently from inflation which is a general blank statement, but overall material costs, commodity costs, inventory can be affected,” said Jason Engledow, regional director of corporate banking, JPMorgan Chase.

“I contacted JP Morgan Chase for a PPP loan when it was available. I also received a credit card. Chase offers a lot of help with the conversation and constantly asked me what I needed help,” said Alston. “They were really helpful and it was the first bank I worked with and I actually didn’t have to look anywhere else for my business needs.”

JPMorgan Chase serves a variety of customers ranging from restaurants and industrial to manufacturing and professional services.

Jason Engledow, Business Banking Sector
Director, JPMorgan Chase. (Photo/JPMorgan Chase)

Engledow offers advice for businesses to mitigate inflationary risks, examine their excess cash flow and maintain a buffer to weather the storm. Contact a financial adviser to learn how to manage their debt and how to manage supplier relationships. Focus on operations and the relationships they have with their employees and customers.

JPMorgan Chase constantly invests in the people and technology of the communities they serve.

“One thing I’m so proud of is that in 2023 we’re going to invest in a mentorship program,” Engledow said. “We have free peer-to-peer advice to educate on business plans, coaching and tools.”

“We want to do everything we can from Chase’s perspective to really focus on black entrepreneurs and the critical role they play, the economic role of the community. It will be a unique program that we have launched in other cities and which has been very successful. I’m very excited for it to come to our market in Milwaukee in 2023,” Engledow said.

For more information, visit jpmorganchase.com.

It is remarkable that some companies have demonstrated their ability to weather the pandemic and inflation. Businesses will need to stay alert to keep their business afloat.
Important advice from Alston: “Don’t let current circumstances discourage you, these things happen. Whatever your dreams and passions are, keep following them.

For more information about Chase products for children and teens, visit your local Chase bank to speak with a JPMorgan Chase Bank Community Manager, NA FDIC Member.

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