Funderburk’s Cafe & Catering

by Terry Watson | July 14th, 2017
Travis & Kimberly Funderburk (Photos by Shaw Photography Group)

Travis & Kimberly Funderburk (Photos by Shaw Photography Group)

In the Funderburk house, like many African American households, there was always food around. Travis Funderburk has fond memories of helping his mom in the kitchen as a young boy.

At the age of 15 he landed his first job at a McDonald’s restaurant. Shortly thereafter, he started tagging along, helping his mom at the church they attended. While she worked in their cafeteria cooking southern-style dishes, he would bus tables, wash dishes, and anything else they needed him to do. Then he got his chance to move into the kitchen with his mother. While in that position, the pastor saw his potential and allowed him to increase the restaurants operating hours from lunch hours to dinner hours. Within a few years, Travis had worked his way up through the ranks until he was the head honcho. As General Manager, he was even his mother’s boss.

“She was excited for me. It was different, but it worked out well. She loved her job as a cook,” said Travis about his working relationship with the woman who helped start his career.

With the success of the church cafeteria, he decided he loved food service so much that he wanted his own business. In 2000, with the help of family members, he proudly started Funderburk’s Catering and began building his clientele.

Just when he thought his plate was full, he was approached by a property manager to open an additional eatery at their corporate building to service their employees. So, while working full time at the church location, and running his own catering company, he embarked on a third endeavor by opening Funderburk’s Café in 2002, inside a corporate facility that housed over 1200 employees regularly. Not long after that, a nearby business loved his food so much that they offered him a space in their building to serve a fast-food like menu to a younger crowd.

“I was constantly busy. I did paperwork and regular bank deposits for the church, on top of managing the facility seven days a week. Then I managed the large and small cafés as well as had catering jobs. But I loved it,” says Travis. And loved it he must have. Working around the clock for four different businesses (though similar) must have been taxing. Luckily his mother and aunt believed in his vision enough that they left their full-time positions (reducing their hours to just weekends) at their church to come and cook for him.

Unfortunately, in 2006, the large corporate facility began facing layoffs and lost contracts which made for unsteady business. The corporation had a reduction-in-force from the approximate 1200 employees to roughly 350 employees (now estimated at 50). After regretfully closing his doors that year, Travis continued pushing forward with his catering company and running the church cafeteria.

Three years later Travis decided to move on from his general manager duties at his place of worship and focus on his growing catering company, servicing family reunions, weddings, homegoing services, graduations, and everything in between (with a 50 person minimum). In 2015 Funderburk’s Cafe & Catering, LLC provided food services to Guilford County Schools’ Annual Family Fun Day serving more than 2,000 customers on a mobile kitchen.

In addition to catering services, customers can receive event services such as decorations, invitations, and planning assistance. Needless to say, Funderburk’s Catering has been serving the piedmont area for 15 years now and continues to grow.

With the help of his better half, Kimberly Funderburk, with whom he celebrates 15 years of marriage in July, Travis rekindled his dream and opened a 40-seat restaurant with hopes of soon acquiring the neighboring space to add more seating. Funderburk’s Café and Catering opened its doors on North Church Street in January 2017 with a grand opening July 1st. Fried and baked chicken, fried fish (whiting, croaker, and trout), pig feet, macaroni-n-cheese, collard greens and banana pudding are regular dishes. Customers can also choose from different menu items every week.

Kimberly, a native of Durham but an North Carolina A&T Aggie at heart, is an integral part of the business, overseeing everything behind the scenes. “I have an MBA and that helped tremendously in creating a business plan as well as applying for this space. Currently I’m working on a doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University which is helping with the bookkeeping, the organization, the signage and lots of other things that Travis can’t be worried about.”

When asked about giving advice to those with a goal of owning their own business, the first thing Kimberly mentions is saving your money. “Travis and I were prepared and was able to start this business without having to take out any loans. We funded everything from our own pockets. The goal is to bring in the capital and not use profit to pay for your loans. So having a budget and a financial plan would be the first thing to think about.”

Considering Travis is a passionate cook, manager, and business owner, his past experience and knowledge has helped get this venture off the ground. Because creating delicious meals is in his blood, Travis has his eye on a second location on the opposite side of town. His ultimate goal is to offer the same amazing food and same great service all over the city.

To contact Funderburk’s Café & Catering visit their Facebook page at Funderburks Café Catering, LLC. They are currently designing a website, so stay tuned!

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