Husband and wife team Greg and Wilma Smith opened the doors of their first original business together 15 months ago after Greg had cooked for years. They previously owned Subway franchises for 10 years, and Greg once managed multiple Wal-Mart locations.

Husband and wife team Greg and Wilma Smith opened the doors of their first original business together 15 months ago after Greg had cooked for years. They previously owned Subway franchises for 10 years, and Greg once managed multiple Wal-Mart locations.
Greg is always present at his restaurant, and his grandfather’s legacy lives on through the family’s barbecue sauce. Hard work, dedication and faithfulness are among the traits Cecil Smith, a caterer and Greg’s grandfather, instilled in him, Greg said.
“He always used to tell me, ‘We always want to do the job right the first time,’ even if we were cooking,” Greg said, laughing. “I think he would be proud – knowing that I was able to put his values to the pavement and actually make it happen. It’s not what I leave behind – it’s what has already been left here for us. To be part of the history has been a real joy.”

About The Smiths
Age: Greg, 50; Wilma, 53
Residence: northern Lee’s Summit
Work at: Gregory G’s BBQ
For how long? since November 2008
Hours: from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday
Contact: 816-461-1144 
Hobbies: Spending time with their three grandchildren and attending church together at Faith Baptist Church in Raymore. Greg leads the church’s mission group  and has taken mission trips to Japan, Lithuania, Romania, Uruguay and Mexico. He helps construct Bible colleges and remodel churches, as well as cook meals.   
1 What do you most enjoy about running Gregory G’s BBQ? Greg: There is such a vast diversity of people, and it’s such a joy. I have the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world – I’ve met people in here from Australia and Africa – and to visit with them about our great city and where they’re from. Wilma: He’s a real people person.

2 You started your restaurant right in the midst of the economic recession. What pros and cons did you have to consider before going into business? What role did location play in starting a restaurant? Wilma: We were concerned about which direction the Square was going to go – it seemed it was at the point where it could go either direction. We wanted to be part of a unique, quaint atmosphere and part of the revitalization, but we had concerns about the struggle of the Square in Independence. (Both Wilma and Greg said they are glad they located Gregory G’s BBQ on the Square.) 
Greg: I was concerned about local support – the evenings are pretty shallow here on the Square. Would it be able to draw a dinner crowd? Wilma: He’s bringing an evening crowd in. It takes time, but he’s going it. We knew word-of-mouth was going to be huge. Customer service is important – the customer is 100 percent right 100 percent of the time. Greg: We give honor to God because he’s truly kept the doors open during this economic recession. We also appreciate our landlord.      

3 How do you keep Gregory G’s in the forefront of peoples’ minds in a metropolitan area known for a variety of barbecue restaurants?  Wilma: We have recently gotten on a Major Saver card. Advertising is huge. Customer value is important. Word-of-mouth has probably been the best thing. You’d be surprised how many people come in and want to see Greg – they expect him to be here. With a small business like this, they expect the owner to be here. That makes a huge difference these days. We do a lot of private parties on Sundays since we are closed on Sundays. 

4 What advice would you offer for others who are aspiring to start their own businesses? If you could do one thing differently in opening a business, what would it be and why? Wilma: One thing that helped us was having the franchise – it was the stepping stone. Greg got his retail knowledge from managing Wal-Marts. Get that training, knowledge and experience, especially in today’s economy. People think you just open your doors and slide food across the counter – it doesn’t work that way.
Greg: I wish I had gone out before we opened and saturated the market with advertising, coupons and things like that. But, we were under pressure to get the doors open before the new year. We’ve done it since then, though.
Wilma: You have to have a plan as to where you’re going to be, and goal setting is huge.