Richard Upton said success is not clear when opening a business.
But the owner of J. Gumbo’s Delaware, 9 N. Sandusky St., in downtown will be celebrating its five-year anniversary this weekend.
The Delaware location is a locally-owned franchise that opened in 2012. J. Gumbo’s operates in 10 states. It specializes in Cajun and Creole dishes.
“It’s been a struggle,” Upton said. “… [But] Delaware has been a phenomenal community.”
The celebrations will kick off on Friday, which will feature a photo booth at the eatery for people to take pictures of themselves. On Saturday, Upton will have an ice cream eating contest in the parking lot behind and adjacent to his business at 2 p.m. with a balloon artist on site before the event.
Relentless Glory Ministries will have a service and free food for low-income residents from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s become far more than a restaurant, it’s become a community outpost,” Upton said.
Over the years, he’s hired people with developmental disabilities and looks to hire two to three more by the end of the year.
In addition to the anniversary, the business will celebrate being chosen as one of 102 entrepreneurs for the 2017 American Small Business Championship hosted by SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors.
Upton received a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expense-paid trip to training and networking event this week, SCORE mentoring and publicity throughout the year.
J. Gumbo’s Delaware is also eligible to win one of three additional $25,000 grand prizes by being named Grand Champion. A judging panel of small business experts will select three Grand Champions from the group of Small Business Champions this summer.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.