Taking plunge works for Sandifer, Majestic Burger
by Laura Smith
Published: March 5,2010
Successful business soon to have a second location
The concept of using high-quality, fresh ingredients for its unique burgers and other menu items has the success of locally-owned Majestic Burger spawning a second location.
Greenwood native Fred Sandifer moved his family back to Mississippi from the Washington, D.C., area in Aug. 2005 with the goal of starting a business.
He’d done enough research while still employed at Freddie Mac in Washington to know he wanted to open a restaurant. He considered the option of opening a franchise, but ultimately decided to start his own.
“I researched places on the East Coast, in California and in Dallas, so I drew inspiration from a lot of different areas,” Sandifer said. “I looked at possible franchises, but just decided to go with my own concept.”
He convinced his wife, Amy, who is from the Washington, D.C., area, to “take the plunge,” and move their family to the Magnolia State.
Mississippi looked attractive to the couple as a better place to raise their children, but when their home in Madison was without power for a week in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Sandifer said there were raised eyebrows.
“There were definitely questions about where we’d moved,” he said, laughing.
He called his wife “the key to everything,” and said the couple now loves the lifestyle that Mississippi offers.
“It’s a great environment to raise the kids in,” he said.
With that, the restaurant opened in Sept. 2007.
“We’ve been continuing to build our business,” he said. “We have a lot of good, regular customers, a lot of families. Our customers are mostly residential because of our location.”
What drives customers back is the concept of providing fresh, quality food with plenty of variety.
The menu has evolved over the two-and-a-half years the restaurant has been open. In addition to serving all natural, hormone-free beef, Majestic offers turkey burgers, and last summer added fish to the menu with resounding success.
“That has really taken off,” he said.
Majestic Burger offers red fish, tilapia and mahi mahi served sauteed, herb-crusted or blackened on sandwiches or atop a salad.
Sandifer said the fish addition has been an attraction for the health conscious and those looking for a burger alternative.
“It’s also just really good,” he said. “Customers try it and have really taken to it.”
And that’s one of the challenges — getting the message out of the variety available at Majestic Burger.
That’s been part of the learning process, as well.
“We took a big risk,” he said. “We didn’t know if it would work, but as we’ve gained confidence in what we can do, we’ve added stuff to the menu.”
But Sandifer isn’t stopping there. Plans are underway for a second Majestic Burger. He’s currently looking at properties and negotiating financing for a second location.
“We’re looking for a higher-profile location now that we know the concept is viable,” he said.
More on Majestic Burger
Name: Fred Sandifer
High School: Pillow Academy, 1985
College: University of Mississippi: bachelor’s degree in general business, 1989 and master’s of business administration in 1990
Key to success: Persistence. “You have to stay with it. A lot of people said, ‘Oh, you don’t want to go into the restaurant business.’ But you have to put a lot of that negativity behind you and not focus on it… It’s just about not giving in.”
Coolest thing you’ve ever done: “Having kids.”
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