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Storefront Stories: The Hungry Minnow

Storefront Stories: The Hungry Minnow

Storefront Stories: The Hungry Minnow

Storefront Stories: The Hungry Minnow

Storefront Stories is presented by the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce. Each story features a local entrepreneur and details their journey to success and anecdotes for rising entrepreneurs. 

The Hungry Minnow is located at Children’s Beach and features healthful, seasonal, family friendly food, think snack bar classics with a twist. You may order breakfast or lunch, made to order or grab & go for a picnic. Before heading out on your summer adventure, remember to browse the Barnacle Beach Boutique for unique souvenirs, Nantucket-made crafts by local artisans and all your beach needs. 

We sat down with owner, Rebecca Chappa, for a chat. These are her answers:

Q. How long have you been in business/the industry?
A. The Hungry Minnow is in its 5th year.  Established in 2017, but I have been in the restaurant industry since I was a teenager. I used to work at my father's Mexican restaurant in New York, Pancho Villa's, so the restaurant business is in my blood. I have a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University with a focus on Food and Beverage Management and spent many years working in the industry, primarily on the wine side, in Manhattan at Windows on the World as Wine School Coordinator, the opening Sommelier at the Vista Hotel in the World Trade Center and I spent a few years working for Drew Nieporent at Myriad Restaurant Group (Montrachet, Tribeca Grill, Nobu, Reebok Sports Club and Rubicon in San Francisco.)  I was the opening Wine Director of Jardiniere restaurant in San Francisco. On island I have worked at Station 21 and the Boarding House.

Q. How would you describe your business/services?
A. The Hungry Minnow provides food and fun to children and families at Children's Beach.  We offer healthful offerings in addition to typical snack bar fare. We like to keep it interesting so some of our fun offerings include quesadillas with house made salsas, fried pork dumplings, sourdough bread baked in house and a selection of house baked cookies. Don't worry though if you want Minny Sliders, a great hot dog or some cheesy chili fries we've got all that too!  And we do Boba drinks! 

Q. To what do you attribute your success?
A. I think I really understand what kids want and how to make them happy, while keeping parents engaged and making it easier for them. I think that because I do not have kids I can see the challenges of parenting from a different perspective and try to find ways to creatively assist parents. For example putting baby carrots in  a mozzarella stick container makes them so much more fun and intriguing for kids. 

Q. What mantra do you live by?
A. I think one thing that I take away from spending so much time observing the kids at The Hungry Minnow is that we are all always learning.  Being a kid is hard because everything is new, but we can always continue to learn. My staff is young, some of them just 14, this is their first job, so they are constantly evolving. COVID-19 gave us new challenges. I always try to take as much time to observe and learn myself. When challenges arise you adapt.  A few years ago I walked across Spain and I found that when things seem insurmountable you just keep walking, so for The Hungry Minnow I like to adapt that to say, "Keep swimming."

Q. How has the last year challenged your business, if at all? And how did you respond to those challenges?

A. The Hungry Minnow is very lucky to have a great location with tons of space around it for safe social distancing.  In 2020 we adapted by using our porch for display of toys and retail and for ordering. We found that it was safer only having limited staff in the building.  We already had a very strict protocol for cleanliness, but we increased that to include more sanitizing of public areas, distancing of staff inside, and restricting money handling and food handling to different staff members. Our team members were great, they followed all the rules and we had a very safe and enjoyable summer. We definitely lost out on some of the impulse purchases and retail due to supply shortages and the like, but we made it through the year safely, which was always the most important goal.

Q. Who is the most influential person in your life?
A. My father was an incredible role model.  Coming to the United States as a youth in the Bracero program he worked with his family picking crops. One of 12 children he was the only one that graduated from high school due to the frequent need to follow the crops.  His resilience and drive was incredible, and he was able to become an entrepreneur owning at one point four restaurants in Westchester County and Manhattan. Despite his success he always remembered where he came from and gave back, throughout his career he provided help to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers for example. This fall I paid homage to him and Cesar by volunteering with the UFW on the Biden campaign. I do not take for granted that I was given such opportunity by having such a driven and dedicated man as my father.

Q. What tips or advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own business?
A. Enjoy what you do, because you will need to do it all. From the paperwork to cleaning the bathrooms, expect that you will need to do everything. Be patient with yourself because you will be constantly learning and adapting. Cultivate a team of great people and they will be your support system.

Q. What can we expect from you next?
A. I have been doing a lot of tasty research on dumplings and dim sum, so expect some really fun specials this summer. I am also working on a line of journals and a children's book, so this will be a very exciting year!


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