From mopping kitchen floors to owning a restaurant…
Lance Alphonse struck gold when he opened up LA’s Burger Joint four years ago, a restaurant known for its flavour-packed dishes, so good, they’ll melt in your mouth.
The 24-year-old brought his vision to life whilst he was on vacation from work (he was a steward at a local hotel), and his life hasn’t been the same since then. It was one of the best decisions he’d ever made.
But Lance’s success did not come overnight. Passion, determination and a “hustler’s mindset” all played an integral role in his story… one he weaved carefully.
“When you’re a steward, you’re always looking forward to going higher. I wanted to become a chef. As a steward, I was responsible for keeping the kitchen tidy: washing dishes, mopping, that sort of thing. I was very determined. Eventually I became a chef at the hotel,” Lance said.
“Not having to mop after the cooks, wash dishes and clean, is one of the best feelings ever because (you’ve climbed the ladder). You’re actually cooking for guests. I started off making pizzas and then I moved to the deli, the main kitchen,” he added.
When he started LA’s Burgers, Lance quickly realized that what was meant to be a “side hustle” could’ve been (and ultimately would be) so much more.
“I was renting a house by the road and that’s where I was selling. I’d open my business after work. People came from all over Saint Lucia on some days. It was the first time I saw something like it; people coming in a hole in Bagatelle to buy food because they couldn’t resist what they saw,” Lance said describing the latter as a “sweet feeling”.
He quit his job for something better
In the end, he decided to quit his job and take on LA’s Burgers full time.
“I wasn’t getting the respect I deserved. I knew my worth. I took a risk and it actually worked out,” the young entrepreneur said.
The burger joint quickly became a “go to” spot. LA’s doesn’t offer burgers only, however. Lance offers a variety of finger lickin’ dishes including wraps, tacos, quesadillas and wings and fries. And it’s just as good as it looks.
COVID-19 challenges: Not being able to pay his rent
When COVID-19 hit, LA’s was seriously affected. Business was no longer booming and Lance struggled to make ends meet.
“It started off nicely and in 2020 corona came. Things started getting slow; there were months I couldn’t pay my rent until it got worse. I had to give up the place,” he said.
How he bounced back
According to him, “I was (motivated) by someone. We got a place in town and I started again.”
They went their separate ways eventually, but Lance continued to press on.
“I have a hustler’s mentality so if business is slow, I’ll find a way to bring it back on its feet,” he said.
He’s a natural
Surprisingly, Lance hasn’t taken any culinary courses. He’s incredibly gifted and he’s also a fast learner.
“I always watch and talk to experienced people and learn from them,” he said.
A new endeavour: making sauces to sell
LA’s sauces are quite famous and soon they’ll be hitting supermarket shelves.
“I will be manufacturing green seasoning, tartar sauce and complete seasoning; I’m on the verge of bringing these three products to supermarkets,” Lance said. And according to him, there’ll also be a grand event to promote the products in the near future.
He attended Bocage Secondary
His advice for students who attend schools like Bocage?
“It doesn’t matter what school you go to, having the right mindset is what’s important.”
He has a grab and go cart
Catch LA’s Burger Joint in the Boulevard on Fridays!
He has a restaurant in Castries
“We’re located on Victoria Street (next to the Jacmel bus stand) downstairs the yellow building.”