RJ’s Metropolitan Ice Cream is a classic burger, shake and ice cream shop – but it is so much more. At first glance, it is a fantastical Willy Wonka-like venue that’s a feast to the eyes. Dig a little deeper, and its story is more poignant.
Named for their son RJ, who died shortly after birth, Yvette and Robert Wilke’s concept for their shop came from their daughter’s request for a birthday cake. Yvette found the happy day to be the perfect outlet for something to focus on in the wake of her grief, and took classes and sought out other cake decorators as mentors to learn her craft.
The Wilkes reached out to the Michigan SBDC and met with consultant Shawn Preissle to refine their business plan, make sales projections and to implement accounting software. “We were impressed with how responsive Shawn was, and how helpful she was in getting our paperwork ready for our pitch to the bank for a loan,” said Yvette.
A key outcome of working with the MI-SBDC was securing that bank loan and purchasing a building, making them one of the first minority-owned businesses – maybe the only minority-owned business – in downtown Jackson. And with the number of requests to open in other cities, who knows what expansion plans will materialize next.
“We are building this business from the ground up – for family, for our daughter to see. We are first-generation business owners, and had to work our way from the ground up. Our business is our journey, our calling – it’s so much more than a business. We’re here because God is guiding our steps; we had a hard time getting there, but He was able to put His plan to a purpose,” said Yvette.
Learn more about RJ’s Metropolitan Ice Cream here.