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How Relationships Can Build Business Longevity

Episode 62

podcast featured img How Relationships Can Build Business Longevity

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Rudy’s Bakery in Queens has been open since the 1930s. 40 years ago, Toni and her uncle bought it and kept many of the recipes alive. Now, they pride themselves on remaining non-commercial with seasonal items and an extensive list of gluten-free and vegan pastries and deserts. Toni admits it hasn’t always been easy, and change has been inevitable. But she’s a staple in the community. Hear what reviewer Samantha loves most in this unique episode where we chat with the reviewer and owner together.

On the Yelp Blog: Read more about how Toni has used the bakery’s longevity to connect with her customers in a unique way: getting to know different families across multiple generations.

EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Every episode I pick one review on Yelp and talk to the entrepreneur … and the reviewer … about the story and business lessons behind their interaction. This week we’re doing things a little differently. I wanted to try a conversation with the consumer and business owner TOGETHER. For my trial run, I thought it best to bring in an expert. Queens Community Manager Samantha had told me about Rudy’s Bakery a few months ago, and I immediately wanted to have them on the show. Knowing that Samantha both knew the owner and the business I thought they were the perfect fit. Let’s give our conversation a listen.

SAMANTHA: So I’m Samantha C. I am the community manager for all of Queens. I’m actually from Ozone Park. So this is a community that’s near and dear to my heart. A friend of mine, we were in the area and she brought me to Rudy’s and introduced me to Toni. And the rest is history!

When you are first approaching the business, we’re in a quintessential part of Queens. The cross streets are Seneca and Myrtle.  And everybody knows Myrtle avenue. If you live in Queens, everybody knows Myrtle avenue and, pretty much Seneca. But Rudy’s just has a warm feeling outside now with things being a bit different. There’s an outside portion of the cafe. And it’s just a welcome, I mean, it’s a bakery. Who’s not excited to walk up to a bakery and get something sweet.

TONI: Old, old fashioned bakery.

EMILY: I love that distinction. Toni, you tell me in your own words, what is your bakery? What type of bakery? What do you offer? What makes you guys special and how long have you been around?

TONI: My name is Toni and I’m the owner of Rudy’s. And actually yesterday was my anniversary. 41 years into this bakery. What is Rudy’s? When we first walked in here 41 years ago, my uncle and I were looking for a type of bakery that we wanted to make it a home. We didn’t want this commercial bakery. So we left another area that we had another bakery and we came into Rudy’s. And when we opened here we just fell in love. The atmosphere. It was something that we were looking for. So when we bought it, I wanted to keep it the same. Of course, through the years, a lot of things have changed, but I always stay true to myself and I stay true to the bakery. What is the bakery all about?I took over a bakery that was 15 some odd years old. And I said, I can’t make this new thing happen. I have to keep going.

So when you walk into Rudy’s, my goal is to make everybody feel at home. It doesn’t matter who it is that walks through my door. We try to welcome everybody by names – knowing what they want. If I don’t remember their name, I’ll remember what they bought. I’ll remember what they have, what they want. Every day of the week, I try to make things knowing who’s coming into the Bakery on a Monday. And what would they look for? Who’s going to come on a Friday? And what are they gonna look for?

I try to make this bakery not commercial – I do seasonal. So you walk into my bakery today. You’re not gonna find pecan pie or a pumpkin pie. You’re gonna find a fruit tart or a fruit, some kind of fruit. And basically, I want people to feel comfortable sitting in here and say, wow, this is a really true bakery. So for me, when you call me an old bakery, an old establishment, I love it. I love it. You know, that’s my goal. I don’t want this to ever be like this new modern bakery, you know? Like I still have an old fashioned register. I still do my math on a piece of paper. I don’t wanna change that.

EMILY: 41 years in business, that’s amazing! So 41 years, that really means you’ve probably known generations of your customers. Can you tell me about that and tell me about how that helps your business?

TONI: Yes, I’m going to my fourth. I just had my fourth decade. So I have people here coming in that I knew their grandparents. Like some of the people come in here and they’ll tell me you know my grandparents used to come to Rudy’s and they’ll love this conversation with me. And by the end of the conversation, I’ll be like, ‘did they just move upstate? They just moved to Texas?’ and they’ll be like, yes. A lot of people think I’m this weirdo cause I know everything about that. And it’s incredible. I don’t do this for the money. I do this cause it’s in my blood. I mean, I just love to make everybody happy. Just, that’s me!

So I get these little kids and I’ll say like, you know, my grandparents came here, my mom came here and this one came here. And the only thing about when I have to tell them, and I knew their grandparents, cause they start counting the years. They’ll be like, you know, she’s got to be this age for knowing my grandmother. I get people walking and they’re like, are you a grandmother, yet? And I’m like, no, I’m not

EMILY: I have to tell you when you said 41 years, I thought no way! She had to have started the business when she was 11, then! My follow up to the long term business owner and being a bakery is about the recipes and the things that you’re serving. I would imagine that some of these recipes go way back and you’ve been maybe sourcing ingredients from different places over time. Maybe it’s changed. Talk to me about the food quality and why that’s important to you and maybe how that’s withheld all these years.

TONI: I mean, my recipes are old. My recipes are like 80 years old. I mean, the Bakery’s gonna be 90 years old. They opened up the bakery in 1932, but they actually registered in 1934. So I tease everybody. I said, I’m gonna be celebrating from 2022 to 2024. Cause I didn’t know if I should celebrate when they opened it or when they registered, because back then you could have been in business for years and didn’t need to register. Today we need to register before you open. So for two years we’re gonna be celebrating our 90th anniversary.

So recipes are 90 years old and more, cause when we took over, we took some of the recipes over with us. Because back then when you bought a business, you bought the business with recipes. So the reason why we kept Rudy’s the same name is because Rudy had certain recipes. So I kept the majority of them. If I did remove some of them, it was because it just didn’t sell. And the basic thing is I still make things. I buy the best of the best.

I mean, I do raise my price, which is known. If you’re gonna give quality, you have to pay for it. And that’s the way I look at it. And within the years, the 40 years, I had to change certain things, you know, like allergies that are coming in. Back then back then we weren’t allergic to gluten the way everybody’s allergic today, you know? Flour right now is our enemy – back then was our best friend. You made a mistake with a recipe, just added more flour and you fixed the recipe.

Today it’s like, oh my God, what do we do here? So I have changed with time. I’ve changed. Rudy’s never had a cafe. We never had a cafe. 12 years ago I decided because that was my dream. I always wanted to own a bakery slash cafe. Cause I wanted the people to sit down in my cafe and to taste like Samantha just tasted a banana pudding and she was able to tell me wow Toni – it’s delicious. If she would’ve taken it home, I would’ve never known. Cause back then you didn’t have all this hashtag and all this stuff to get people to talk about it.

I had to wait for them to get back to the bakery and to tell me about it. A lot of the time they forgot to tell me. So 12 years ago I decided, okay, I need to change with time. So every year whenever things move, I change. I also listen to my customer. They were asking for it. And I would be like, give me some time and I’ll do it! Give me time and I’ll do it. Let me change it up!

And then like later on, I had to bring in a different chef cause the bakers, we don’t know how to do big gluten free, vegan, all these other things. I had to bring in a chef in here, which happened to be one of my girls who started working at Rudy’s when she was like a teenager and she went to culinary school and she went to work all over the city. And then she ended up coming back to me. And she put in all these new items into the bakery like, you know, the decorating, the gluten free, the vegan. All items that I didn’t know how to make. So I put the old with the new. So I have the twist, but you do come in here and you do get a pound cake or crumb cake from a 90 year old recipe, but then you’ll get a vegan, a vegan gluten free brownie at the same time.

So I feel like I cater to every culture, every age group. I literally could walk in there could get anything’s.

SAMANTHA: Two things I want to add to that is she just opened, re-opened the cafe since COVID. And just so you know I’m going to be working here a lot.

TONI: Yea that was the sad part. And just so you know, it was the toughest thing through. I went through, every decade I had to change my bakery, but the last decade, my 40 anniversary I had, they shut me down. They shut us down. You know, we got shut down in March 8th and in March 17th was my anniversary. So I remember doing a video saying, Hey guys, happy anniversary to me with my mask. And so I shut down the bakery to keep my employees safe, but we never shut down the bakery. The bakery was open all along. So I reopened and this is amazing. Now hear people talking, hearing families coming in and saying we can sit at the cafe? The cafe is open?

SAMANTHA: The thing I wanted to add is Toni is such a straight shooter. So I ordered my son’s first birthday cake from her. We’re doing a cookie monster cake. And she asked me, what did I want inside? And I was like, oh, can we do chocolate cake with cookie dough? And she goes, no, Sam that’s too much. Too much too rich. So she’s honest and great. And, will steer you in the right direction when it comes to

TONI: I do it because I could have said yes, yes, Sam. Charge her double. But I’m like, you’re feeding 40 people. That’s the day when you get your own dessert, when you sit at the bakery, you eat your cookie dough. 40 people are not gonna like the cookie dough, like, I know that. I’m like, you’re gonna regret it. And people – you gonna spend so much money and people gonna be like, what did she do? Meanwhile, it’s an amazing cake, but she should have it when she comes in here for the date with her husband  or with a friend. But not 40 people, she should not be doing that for 40 people.

EMILY: And that’s what makes you an expert Toni, right?  I love it.

SAMANTHA: And as a customer, I appreciate that because I go and spend this money and bring back a cake that nobody’s gonna like. Some other bakery or bakery owner or some, it could be just yes, me to death. She doesn’t yes anybody to death.

TONI: Cause, people will look at me and say, you know, you could have just made double the amount of money. Like why did you just do it? And I’m like, I want them to come out and be happy. I want them to come back. I had a man yesterday. He’s like, I’m ordering cake for my girlfriend. She likes chocolate. She doesn’t like too much chocolate. How do we, how do we do it? You know, you like chocolate, it’s chocolate. You like vanilla, it’s vanilla. But I’m like, okay, how am I gonna handle this one? So I was like, listen, we’re gonna do two layers of chocolate, one layer, vanilla. That’s gonna break it up. And then we’re gonna put some vanilla cream, chocolate cream inside, but we do vanilla outside. And he was like, ohh that will work! I’m like, okay. Now his price went lower because it was vanilla compared to all chocolate. Did I have to do that, no! But I love doing that. I’m married to this bakery. That’s the goal – I’m married to this bakery.

EMILY: Aw makes me so happy to hear those types of stories. And it really shows even consumers and the community, how much business owners do care about taking care of them.

SAMANTHA: Or know them by name. When I come, Toni will be like, Hey, so and so I got your coffee ready in two seconds.

TONI: I’ll turn the oven on before she’s walking in. I know she’s gonna get a toasted, butter bagel, and I’ll turn the oven on and I’ll start the cappuccino machine. And like, I pretty much, yeah. I always tell the girls

SAMANTHA: You’ll hear my voice from the back. You’ll hear me. And she’ll be like, hi, Samantha.

TONI: I’ll be right out! And I always tell the girls, there are three things that make the bakery. There’s three things I only have three rules. One. You welcome every customer who walks in. Whether they get a cup of coffee or they’re gonna buy a thousand dollars worth of merchandise, you say, hello. Two. You never, my customers always will be right, if there’s anybody that will tell the customer they are wrong, it’s gonna be me. When I’ll tell them that means they were hundred percent wrong. Cause even 90, I don’t tell them. But when they get to hundred, I have to let them know, I’m sorry. You were wrong and I won’t be settling. Cause I know if I come to you and I say you were wrong, you were wrong. Cause I take a lot. And the other thing is just be on time.

And these are my, my three rules and I don’t lie to anybody. I don’t lie to my customers. I charge them when I need to charge. Samantha, I want you to talk for a minute about the products and offerings, because I think from the consumer perspective, there’s probably two things going on. I’m hoping you can tell me about how cool it is when things change, but also maybe what it’s like when you show up and something you love isn’t in the case that day, and just kind of gimme that whole dynamic of being a regular and what that means for how the menu impacts you.

SAMANTHA: So, first of all, I do have my favorite item here at Rudy’s.

One of them is the Nutella tart. That does pretty much make it on the case on a regular basis. That one it’s usually on. It’s a staple. But the banana pudding that I’m eating now is not always in the case. And I do get a little bit disappointed, but it also gives me an opportunity to try other things.

Like, I think the last time when it wasn’t in the case, I tried the oatmeal cookie marshmallow cookie sandwiches. And like I said, it gives me an opportunity to try new things and new things that I could potentially love. I’m even apt to try some of the vegan desserts and gluten free items. I don’t have any sensitivities, but they look delicious. The other thing I don’t think will stay, because it’s probably seasonal, is your homemade hot dark chocolate.

TONI: Yes. But then it turns into cold. Then we change it to the cold. So in the winter there will be hot chocolate. And it’s more dense because we have to warm it up. We have to heat it up and then it dilutes. And then in the summer time, we’ll make it more diluted and it goes over ice,

SAMANTHA: But it’s not as rich as you would think. It’s a nice, delicious, not too sweet, dark hot chocolate.

TONI: It’s not one of ours, it’s our pastry chef Christina’s recipe. That one is not mine. That’s Christina’s. That’s a good one. Now we are still doing a banana. Now once the berry season comes in season, then I’m gonna start making things like passion fruit and lemon cups. Because in the winter time we don’t have all those kinds of, so I have access to banana year round, but I’m not gonna make a banana pudding in the middle of May, June, July. When I have blueberry, when I have rhubarb, when I have passion fruits, lemon, blackberry, blueberry. So I start making the cups and that’s seasonal, and then we go into like the peaches and then we start making peaches and then we go into the plumb, and then we go back to the fall. And with fall comes pumpkin spice

And so I don’t do – you’ll find pumpkin pie year round in some places. And I’m like, what? Like, why? So that’s me, to me that is commercial. I don’t wanna do that. I don’t wanna do that. You know, like I said, I probably could sell pumpkin pie in the summertime and make extra money, but I’m not gonna do that. You’re gonna come to Rudy’s in the summertime and you’re gonna get your fruity items.

SAMANTHA: And I have to say everything I have bought here, you could taste the quality. You could taste it. It’s made with love. It really is.

TONI: What about when I made you the cake while you were waiting?

SAMANTHA: She, well, you wouldn’t let me leave without that. I was okay. So I come in, I go, Toni, I need a baptism cake.

TONI: You said my son’s baptism is this week, but I didn’t think we’ll get him a cake. I think I need a cake and I was gonna get one, on the way out, way out. She tells me, and I was just gonna grab one of the premade ones. She goes, no, he needs a proper baptism cake. And you’re waiting here until I make it.

TONI: So I went into the kitchen and I was like, I have a customer and a friend who forgot to order a cake. She forgot her son’s baptism. And we need to do something. So I took, looked at my baker and looked at my girls. I said, you have to decorate this cake. It’s the child baptism. He’s gonna be looking at this 20 years from now and said what is this cake?

SAMANTHA: And she wouldn’t let me leave until I got a proper baptism cake. And lemme tell you it was delicious. It was absolutely delicious. And again, I dunno. I feel like you’re another mom to me now. I loved it, actually the whole family did.

EMILY: Oh, I love that. Okay. I wanna go back to this topic of raising prices quickly. How you decide when you need to change prices or increase prices, and then how you maybe communicate that to the customer or, you know, adapt customers, basically, when you do change things.

TONI: I try not to raise the price as much, because again, I do a lot of the working, so I take the slack on that. When I do raise the prices, which it kills me to do, it’s when my supplies just attack me and I get letters. I mean the past month, every day, it’s like, I’m getting a letter. From every supply, from the food supply, from the flour, the sugar, from the paper companies like outta crazy right now. Paper, vegetables, fruit on and on, chocolate.

What I do is I try to talk it over with my pastry chef. I try to talk it over. I dissect really my bills and I’m like, what do I do now? You know, what do I do? Cause I hate doing that. And then I talk to my pastry chef and we’ll sit there and we’ll think about, okay, what do we do? You know, when everything else, insurance, rent, working comp, everything goes up.

And I try to raise the price the way I think I could raise it so that doesn’t hurt a lot of my customers. It doesn’t hurt them. And then what I do, basically I go in a front and I try to, I don’t like to leave notes going across the bakery. Cause I feel like it’s not personal. It becomes just like this commercial sign up and say, due increase, blah, blah, blah, blah. Due to COVID.

I try to talk to my customers – say listen. It’s not me doing. You guys know what’s going on around you. You go buy paper towels, you go buy napkins, you go buy this. And basically that’s what I do. I try to talk to my customer about it. You know, they order my cake and I’m like, guys, you know, vanilla costs less than chocolate. Chocolate costs more than cream cheese. You know, this costs more than this. I try to help them out, and make them understand. My customers know that if I do go up it’s because it’s hitting my pocket. Because I’m not one of those people. And I don’t sit home by the computer saying, okay, girls, let’s put the cheesecake in now. $10 extra, $5 extra, and I’m sitting home. They know that I’m the labor. So they’re like, she’s working. It’s not that she’s not working.

So the response I do get – they support me. They support me. I mean, I do get here and there people saying, you know, you’re just like everybody else raising keeps raising price, but you have to take that, you know, I have to take that. 10% of people gonna complain to me and they’re gonna call me up. Cause the same way every day, I have to hear a complaint that somebody didn’t like one of my cake, you know, and it’s just, I can’t please, everybody.

EMILY: Totally. Samantha, talk to me as a consumer about maybe what other consumers should know or think about when it comes to price changes at local places, or maybe what you’ve noticed at Rudy’s as a customer and how that kind of impacts your relationship.

SAMANTHA: I think I have a different perspective because I do talk to a lot of business owners. I know how hard it is now. Supplies are sparse, they’re delayed in shipping. Supplies for business owners, the cost is going up. They’re hurting right now because their business hasn’t picked up. And this is all businesses across industries and whatnot.

I sympathize, I empathize, I wanna help business owners. And is it by purchasing directly from them, from mom and pops? Yeah, I think so. One of the things I try to do is I try to buy, if a business has merchandise, I try to buy the merchandise. One, it stays with you for a little bit longer. It’s also a part of marketing. I love Toni’s motto. Do you wanna tell her what the motto is?

TONI: Stressed spelled backwards is dessert.

SAMANTHA: So I bought one of her sweatshirts that says that. And like Toni said, it’s the cost of also doing business. So I have to be sympathetic about that. So when I do come in and say like a cookie is a dollar more per pound or something like that, I don’t think twice about it. I know, you know, things are gonna change. Things are gonna evolve. I understand, especially like, a bakery like Rudy’s and old time bakery, I understand where that price increase comes from. And like she said, you’re not gonna please everybody. That’s, unfortunately, part of life. And you know, those 10% of people are gonna stomp away, but hopefully you don’t need them as a customer.

TONI: The toughest time was trying to survive through COVID. And that’s why I stayed open to the community to let them know. Cause I’m not turning my back. I’m here for you guys. You guys need me. I’m here. But at the same time, at the same time right now, people I think are supporting me, cause they feel like I was here for them. I didn’t shut my door and walked away.

You know, I’ve gotten people giving me cards. I mean, EMS from the hospital, just giving me thought and thank you for being here with us. Thank you for being, you know, coming in and having a, even though COVID was in a hospital, we still needed a cheer up and I still needed a celebration. And if everything was closed, where would you get something like that? You know? And I think that’s why people appreciated me. And that’s why I do what I do because I wanted to put a smile on people’s face. And now we are all going through rough times. But at the same time, I was like you’re here. I’m here. And even if it’s gonna be a cupcake with a little candle on it, a little saying, happy birthday on it. I’m gonna be here for that.

And for me to give you that to you. To bring that, but you know, it’s hard. And I think people look around and if you go anywhere shopping you’re gonna see how we all hurting. We are all hurting. But business owners, we’re hurting the most. Because we have to buy it, we have to prepare it. We have to pay for everything else and then hope we’re gonna sell it. Yeah.

That’s another thing. And that’s a lot of people afraid, like a lot of people have changed. You know, I go through this with my, like, you know, through this now I think you should cut your menu down. You should cut your menu down because the cost of living is so high.

And I’m like, yes, but what happens when an eighty year old walks in and she’s looking for the eighty year old recipe, I can’t just do the 30 year old recipe. And I know like, yes, my head says, yes, we need to cut back. So let’s bring the menu down to maybe 30% of the items that Rudy’s sells, but then 30% doesn’t make Rudy’s complete.

TONI: Us making it back then it was really word mouth and your product basically. That’s what it was. And the shop. And it was your product. How you presented your bakery and how you were persisting about anything. All these reviews started coming in. At first the reviews became like, wow, okay. So now people are sharing what they experience. But then sometimes I look at a review and I’m like, okay, that person really doesn’t like me. And just want to say, I’m doing this. If I have a customer and the pastry girl at the counter doesn’t treat them right, in whatever sense, we’re human. We all have bad days and good days, we all have some sadness in us. So there’s times I’ve been behind the counter taking customers that my inside is dying. Cause whatever reason, whether I have bad news or something personally was happening and I can’t be that cheerful all the time or sometimes I’m tired. So when I look at that, I think I’m like, wow, somebody took that time to do that. Just cause the girl behind the counter didn’t smile, or the counter wasn’t whatever the reason. Cause you don’t know that reason. So when I think of that, I look at that. I’m like, you know what? I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe that’s right.

And there’s been times when I look at my reviews and it compare with somebody else reviews.Then I’m like, you know, I’m gonna go to that place. I’m gonna go check it out just to see why that person has a line out the door. And my line is not the door – just to see. And then I go in and I see one girl behind the counter that’s making the line. And I look at Rudy’s and I see other girls behind the counter that are taking care of three or four customers at the time.

And I’m like, what should I do here? Should I put like a break on them and say, girls let’s get the line. So I have mixed feeling with the reviews.

EMILY: Has there ever been a time where a review or maybe a few reviews have given you some insight or maybe shown you something from a customer’s perspective that you didn’t see or didn’t think of?

TONI: Yes, absolutely. There’s stuff sometimes that people have said things and, I don’t respond to the reviews really. But there are times that I’ve looked at it and I’m like, okay, you know, I will get my pastry chef, and I’ll say, okay, Chris, they’re talking about this and let’s look at it. Let’s pay attention to it.

And then there are other times where someone write something so negative and I’m like really? Like, where did you compare me with? Where did you compare this with? You know, like if you’re gonna talk about it as my table is not round, it’s not square. Like really, OK. I believe in square tables. Things like that I look at it and think, whatever.

EMILY: So you can’t make everyone happy, right?

TONI: I’ve looked at reviews and I’ve used it. And I try to look at it and go positive about it. Positive or corrected myself sometime. I mean, just like in general, like about a cake, you know, the way it was presented. The way it was put in a box. Maybe it doesn’t taste right. And I’m like, okay, let’s look at it. Let’s taste it. Maybe it was the way they said. And I try to correct that.

EMILY: Yeah. I think that’s a great example of even what you do internally with your pastry chef. You guys chat about it and you look at it as a signal or information, right? And you’re gonna go seek more information internally.

SAMANTHA: I think reviews are important to support local businesses. Like Toni said, years ago it was just word of mouth. Social media is just heightened word of mouth in my eyes. So when you are sharing positive reviews about places that you love, it’s the best way to support your local business. It’s important to me to review in an organic setting.

I try to include as much detail as possible. The service, if the servers were friendly, the taste of the product, the quantity, the quality. I try to be as descriptive as possible to give those reading my review a good picture of what my experience was. Andif I didn’t have a good experience, I try to leave it as constructive criticism, not so much negative. Or I’m not outright negative. Everybody’s struggling. Like Toni said, sometimes you’re having a bad day and you can’t be the person you wanna be.

I’ve had those days. I’m sure some of our customers have had those days too. And you can’t really, you can’t base things off of that. So if I didn’t have a good experience, I just try to be more constructive. With my critique then just outright bash a server or business or anything like that.

EMILY: All fabulous points.

SAMANTHA: I think Toni should briefly talk about being a female entrepreneur. And I just wanna preface by saying, this is one of the things I admire about Toni, because as a woman who has been in conference rooms with a lot of men, and has been just a voice amongst men, she’s a real inspiration, cuz she’s been a leader in her industry and she’s like we said, she’s a staple. And she came up at a time when it was tough for a woman to be a baker to be so if you could talk more about that.

TONI: I just came outta a high school and I’m not a pastry chef, I’m a baker and I went to trade school. And back then trade school – back then it was just men who went to trade school to become an electrician, a plumber. I mean, any other thing other than being a baker was basically, So my uncle, he knew he saw that the economy back then in the 70s was worse than now. He said you’re gonna go to school, but you still need a trade. So I am gonna give you this and you’re gonna find yourself a trade school. So I went to trade school at nighttime. During the day I was working in a bakery with my uncle. At nighttime, he put me to go to work.

When I got outta there, I said, I’m not doing this. I am not doing this. I’m going to do this now until I get a real job. Because working in the bakery is not a real job.

In the time I was going to trade school at night, he decided to buy Rudy’s and Rudy’s is larger than the bakery we had before. I came to work one day and he said to me, give me five years. And then you do whatever you want. And I said, fine, I’ll give you five years. And then, I mean, well, 41 years later, I’ve been talking to you and I’m still in the same place.

So when I started here and a customer would come in and ask for the manager. They would ask for Toni and my uncle and I would come out and I would say hi can I help you? And they’d say hey we’re waiting for Toni. And I’d say, yea I’m Toni. And they say no we’re looking for a guy and I’d say well sorry I’m a woman, and I’m Toni. So that was hard for me. And this business was hard for me. Not as much now. Now, I have alot of other women in business with me, and I’m proud of them, I applaud them.  But when I started there was no support group like we have today. There’s no support like there is today. And it was hard. I guess you get stronger over the years?

How did I soar pass that? You know what, I just gave it my all. I was true to myself and I said to myself – if they can do it, I can do it. And I think in 2018 or 2019, they awarded me for a business woman plaque. And one of my topics when I spoke was this is one the best achievement plaques I’ve got. And even all the awards I’ve gotten I felt like I finally after 40 years got all the accomplishments and recognition I wanted as a woman in business. That was one and the most important one. Cause I felt after 40 years, I got the accomplishment that I needed to get, I guess, by being a woman.

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