( ENSPIRE Features) D’Juan’s New Orleans Bistro Brings Authentic Flavors To Georgia
ENSPIRE Contributor: Gabrielle Maya
Donald Williams is a prime example of dedication, consistency, and hard work. He recently opened a New Orleans-themed restaurant called D’Juan’s New Orleans Bistro. Being a long-time resident of Atlanta, he opened his eatery in the Vinings area at 3300 Cobb Parkway Suite 104, Atlanta, GA 30339. The opening occurred on March 16th, but the traditional allure of New Orleans flavors has brought much traction to Atlanta. Williams has brought authentic cuisine with well-known favorites such as: Gumbo, Cajun Rice with Catfish, Lamb Chops, Crawfish Mac and Cheese, Mardi Gras Pasta, Bread Pudding, and more.
In 1992 he was a busboy and advanced over the years all the way to management and supervisory roles within dining establishments. Twenty years of giving knowledge and innovation to the restaurant industry, he now owns Williams Accounting & Consulting a firm with offices located in Atlanta and New Orleans. He helped open up several restaurants through his accounting business. “There are not that many places where someone can go and get those classic New Orleans flavors, which is why I decided to open D’Juan’s New Orleans Bistro. Not only is it difficult for me to find the types of cuisine that I grew up with, but also when I cook New Orleans-style cuisine at home, I always have to make a lot because all of my family and friends here in Atlanta will want those flavors.”
ENSPIRE had the pleasure to talk with Donald Williams about his passion for food, how he went from the food industry to restaurant owner and businessman, being an Atlantian, the highs and lows of running a restaurant or any kind of business, and more!
Where does your passion for food come from?
I have always loved tasty food. I grew up as part of a large family in New Orleans with a mother who often prepared tasty food for our family. My mother still helps me out in the new restaurant when she can and is a great taste tester. Tasty food is fresh, has rich flavors, is usually colorful, and most importantly, creates a craving to eat it that goes beyond just nourishment. Influenced by my mother and my background, I have been cooking tasty food since a teenager. I have also been a patron of hundreds of different restaurants that specialize in tasty food both in Atlanta and in New Orleans.
Why did you decide to open up a New Orleans-themed restaurant in Atlanta?
I opened a New Orleans-themed restaurant for two reasons. First, having grown up in New Orleans and worked for multiple restaurants in New Orleans while in high school and college as a busboy, server, and as an area manager for a meat market, I greatly understand New Orleans’ cuisine. I know how to purchase and then prepare New Orleans’ cuisine, and almost as importantly, create the fun and open restaurant atmosphere for which New Orleans is famous. Second, I see the need for a New Orleans-themed restaurant in Atlanta. Atlanta has a great culture with a tremendous mix of people from all over the United States and all over the world. People in Atlanta appreciate and desire great food and a fun and open atmosphere. While there are some great restaurants in Atlanta, I want to provide Atlanta with a great New Orleans-themed restaurant that gives people in Atlanta a New Orleans restaurant experience without having to go to New Orleans.
How did you end up working in the food industry from a busboy to now a restaurant owner and businessman?
Since I always loved tasty food, working for a restaurant was an easy decision for me. I had an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, but my family did not have very much money. I realized I needed knowledge, money, and some real work experience to be an entrepreneur, so I started working as a busboy at age 15. I loved interacting with the patrons, so I quickly was promoted to being a server, and not too long thereafter, got involved in helping manage the restaurant. While attending college, I became an area manager for a meat market in New Orleans where I performed marketing, sales training, and accounting. Working for the meat market helped me learn and understand the food purchasing side of running a restaurant, which is important for a restaurant’s success. After college, I focused on my accounting and consulting career, founding Williams Accounting & Consulting with two offices in New Orleans and Atlanta. I also obtained a Master of Arts in Accounting. I consulted with and provided accounting for several Atlanta restaurants, which helped me understand the financial and accounting aspects of running a restaurant in Atlanta. The financial success of Williams Accounting & Consulting, combined with my life experience of being a busboy, a server, a restaurant manager, an area manager for the meat market, and working with several Atlanta restaurant clients, have prepared me to now open a new restaurant in Atlanta.
What are the key components of owning a restaurant business?
The key components of owning a restaurant include buying fresh and quality food and drink products, properly preparing those food and drink products, delivering the food and drinks to patrons in a timely and professional manner, and creating a relaxing, fun, and open atmosphere for the patrons. These key components require having a great team of trained employees who can handle the procurement of the food and drink products, prepare the food and drinks, serve the food and drinks, and engage with the patrons in such a way as to make them feel welcome and relaxed, while not interfering in their interactions with the other patrons. This great team of employees needs to maintain a team-first mentality of what is best for the restaurant and what is best for the patrons, ahead of what is best for them, personally. When this occurs, the key components will be achieved and the restaurant will be a success.
When did you create your consulting firm and how has it helped you with your business experience?
I founded Williams Accounting & Consulting in 2006. Williams Accounting & Consulting has been successful, having served thousands of clients with their tax, consulting, and accounting needs. Over the past 17 years, while owning and operating Williams Accounting & Consulting, I have worked with many excellent business owners who shared with me their personal, financial, marketing, sales, and business development successes and failures. I have been able to learn from those successes and those failures. Also, I have been able to build a management team at Williams Accounting & Consulting that runs the accounting and consulting business to allow me to focus my energy on the new restaurant.
What makes Atlanta such a fantastic place to live?
Atlanta is a fantastic place to live because people in Atlanta accept you regardless of your background, income level, education level, or lifestyle. People in Atlanta see you as a person, and not part of some artificial stereotype or classification. People in Atlanta appreciate diversity. Atlanta is also a great place for entrepreneurs. I think that almost anyone can start a business and be successful in Atlanta if they first learn about their business, get good advice and support, and passionately pursue establishing their business. Atlanta is also fantastic because regardless of what your life interest is, you can find other people in Atlanta who share that life interest. Atlanta has been great for me and I love living here!
What are the difficulties that come with running a business and how can new restaurant owners overcome these obstacles?
The biggest challenge with any business is hiring and maintaining good employees. This is especially true in the restaurant industry where the profit margins (i.e., the profit as a percentage of dollars collected) are relatively low, such that there is a limit on the wages that the restaurant can pay to the good employees while still being profitable. The restaurant industry is highly competitive, so good employees have opportunities to work for other restaurants for comparable wages. To address the challenge of hiring and maintaining good employees, it is very important to make sure that the restaurant is managed well, is a fun place to work, is respectful of employees’ needs and concerns, and provides as much flexibility to employees’ schedules as possible.
What are some of the popular menu items you hope resonates with the New Orleans roots and with the Atlanta residents?
All our menu items seem to resonate well with our patrons, but I think the most popular starters are our New Orleans Style Gumbo Bowl, Stuffed Crab Cake Egg Rolls, and Catfish Bites, our most popular poboys are the Shrimp Poboy and the Catfish Poboy, our most popular entrees are the Crawfish Pasta, the Crawfish Mac & Cheese, and the Red Beans & Rice, our most popular platters are the Fried Catfish Plate and the Catfish & Shrimp Platter, and our most popular dessert is the Beignet Bites. We also have a good non-fish selection for those who still want the New Orleans experience, including our Fried Chicken, Lamb Chops, Hot Sausage, and Veggie Pasta.
In addition to his success Donald Williams has a book called “The Suitless CEO: How Becoming Unconventional Transformed My Life & Business” which hit the Amazon Best Seller list after being endorsed by former Shark Tank cast member Kevin Harrington.
“D’Juan’s New Orleans Bistro is finally here and I’m so excited to share our food and culture with all of Atlanta. The best part about Atlanta is that the city really embraces all of the different foods and restaurants. So, I’m happy that I get to share a piece of me, my family, and my culture with all of Atlanta,” Williams said.
If you happen to be visiting Atlanta, stop by to D’Juan’s New Orleans Bistro. I guarantee you will taste the flavors of New Orleans with each dish you try. For more information on D’Juan’s New Orleans Bistro visit https://djuans.com// or follow their Instagram Page for new food items.