Corporate Restaurant Leader Opens Unique Eatery
Daydreamers Café and Grill of Pinellas County
Chris Wicks spent 34 years in corporate restaurant leadership before deciding that he wanted to take a step back from the corporate world. Five years ago he decided to semi-retire and open a restaurant of his own in Safety Harbor. Daydreamers Café and Grill is a unique breakfast and lunch eatery open Wednesday through Sunday each week.
“Food and serving guests is my passion,” he said. “It’s where my love is and where my heart is. So, you’ve got to live your dream as they say, hence, the name, Daydreamers Café and Grill.”
Although Wicks had spent much of his life in corporate restaurant leadership roles, Wicks found the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Pinellas County Economic Development (PCED) to be a helpful resource in navigating his business plan, marketing demographics and social media, and financing. He was paired with Kurt Forster, a business consultant specializing in marketing and strategic planning.
Since working together, Wicks has seen consistent growth throughout the years, including being able to weather the storm and aftereffects of COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.
“Consistently, trying to maintain a good product, great service, and deliver what the guests are expecting, even amongst those times of COVID-19, was uniquely challenging,” Wicks said of the pandemic. “The social media insight that we were receiving from the SBDC was tremendously helpful and it helped us get through that time.”
Wicks added that the pandemic gave him a unique opportunity to work with the City of Safety Harbor to “really get creative with outside dining.”
Throughout his engagement with the Florida SBDC at PCED, Wicks has gotten guidance in areas from marketing to finance, and even what menu items might work best in the community.
Now, Wicks is considering adding a second location to the mix, and he looks forward to having the Florida SBDC at PCED as a resource throughout the process.
“I will always be reaching out and tapping on Kurt’s shoulder for updates and insights,” he said.
He also encourages other small business owners to utilize the Florida SBDC at PCED to help their businesses grow and succeed.
“Get some historical data of other businesses that may have already tried to venture into what you’re going into,” he said. “Learn from other people’s successes. Learn from other people’s mistakes but reach out to the SBDC to get that information and use them as a resource.”