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Daily Inspiration: Meet Ashad Ruffin and Michelle Reyes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashad Ruffin and Michelle Reyes.

Hi Ashad and Michelle, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
Lucy Mae’s Kitchen was a dream overdue to become a reality long ago. Ashad and I (Michelle) are going into our 5th year of dating, and as long as I’ve known him, he’s always talked about wanting to sell food and possibly owning a food truck. We had friends and family who encouraged him, and we’d laugh about it, but it seemed more of a long-lost dream since we both were just living our regular day-to-day work schedules.

In 2020, Ashad’s grandma passed away due to COVID-19. She was healthy, happy and strong before the virus, so it really took a toll on us when she was in the hospital then later lost her fight against COVID19. Months passed and Ashad was still grieving his grandmother’s loss. It did not help that we were also stuck in quarantine and in a worldwide pandemic because that held him back from visiting his family back home in Baltimore. Towards the end of the year, we reflected on the past year and wondered what we could do to make 2021 better. We individually and as a couple set New Year’s resolutions. One of Ashad’s was to finally create the food IG account that we’ve been holding back from making.

One random day when I was at work, Ashad texted me a picture of a logo that said, “Lucy Mae’s Kitchen.” From there on, it’s been all about the growth and process as small business owners. The name just made sense since it was a way to honor his late grandmother. She was actually the one who helped push Ashad to move out of the East coast. Her go-getter mentality was the last push he needed to turn his long lost dream into a reality. His hope was to share her dishes and spread her name throughout to keep her legacy alive.

To get where we are today, we owe it all to the locals. Our business has grown due to shout-outs from Black SD Magazine, the IG accounts @blackowned.sandiego, @localgrownstories and many others. Our customer’s word of mouth has also brought in so many more customers! We’ve been fortunate to meet individuals who have helped spread the word of Lucy Mae’s.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
In all honesty, we would say it’s been pretty smooth. Of course, we had bumps here and there with figuring out how to make the most for our business profit but still providing reasonable pricing for our customers and so on. We’re still learning but we take any mistake or bumps as learning lessons for the future. We’ve been pretty fortunate and are thankful for that! Our biggest challenge now is keeping up with the demand and wanting to participate as a vendor for all the events/people reaching out!

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Lucy Mae’s Kitchen was made in honor and respect to Ashad’s late grandmother. We’re most proud of the dishes we put out as they are all recipes Ashad learned from her growing up or dishes inspired by the cooking style she taught him as a child. She had one rule: If you’re in the Kitchen, you’re helping. Otherwise, you’re just in the way! We provide gourmet soul food and homestyle cooking in hopes to keep Grandma’s legacy alive through what she loved doing the most – cooking. We are currently open twice a week – every Wednesday and Saturday.

On Wing Wednesdays, we sell $1 chicken wings. We have four different flavors and two different types of french fries – regular and truffle. Our Tameka wings are our signature flavor that provides a salty-sweet taste and topped with green onion for that extra kick. Customers always tell us how different the taste is from anything they’ve had in SD. Our Lucy wings are grandma’s recipe for her southern fried chicken and are always served extra crispy. The other two wing flavors are the OG buffalo and Buffalo blue cheese.

On Soul Food Saturdays, we feature a new dish weekly. In the past, we’ve sold smothered pork chops with gravy, onions and mashed potatoes, sold fried chicken with mac and cheese and collard greens and so much more. Our big seller featured item has been our crab stuffed shrimp with mashed potatoes and garlic sautéed broccoli. Our LMK staples are also available to order every weekend —— Maryland crabcakes, Tameka wings and/or french/truffle fries. Our crabcakes are another big seller since they’re done Maryland style with lump crab meat.

We all have a different way of looking at and defining success. How do you define success?
Success is being happy doing what you do. We know a lot of people define success as wealth, money and being rich but we see this as a project of love and truly get happy seeing customers enjoy our food. Our business has been pretty steady and we’ve boomed in the five months we’ve been opened. It’s always a successful day, whether it’s getting a new follower on IG or getting customer referrals, our hope is to spread the name Lucy Mae’s all throughout San Diego.

Contact Info:

  • Email: LucyMaesKitchen@gmail.com
  • Instagram: LucyMaesKitchen
  • Facebook: SDLucyMaesKitchen


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