“In the culinary arts, there’s so much to offer, there really is. And to have a kid exposed to that would be awesome, just having a facility within the community,” Hill said.
The business isn’t just providing a place to cook. The Hills also provide mentoring to entrepreneurs who may not have access to information and resources on how to handle the business side, such as acquiring licenses, insurance, and certifications. The Hills have also mentored kids in their grill business through youth work programs, teaching them everything from writing contracts, delivering grills, interacting with customers and maintenance.
Knowledge and capital are some of the biggest barriers to new entrepreneurs, and the Hills encountered challenges of their own on their business journey. D&D is entirely self-funded, and the Hills had a steep learning curve in the startup process.
“I always try to put at a higher level or do a lot of little extras just to make it, even with my grill business. And that theory is true, we always have to do a lot better than the others, as far as my experience, especially when I got in the business world. At GM, I was more like a robot. But that was totally different from being out here in the community. To me, you’re never too old to learn and I didn’t learn that until after my 50s,” Don said.
“We went on the dusty road, maybe they can go on the paved road because we’ve gone that way,” Donna said.
Andrew Choi, who founded Cousin’s Meals out of his home in Springboro, cooks between 150 and 200 meals a week at D&D, distributing healthy, fitness-inspired food out of Kelli’s Body Shop gym in Centerville. Choi signed a contract with D&D before the kitchen component even finished construction.
“I was looking for rental kitchens; the business was growing and I needed to be in a commercial kitchen,” Choi said. “It takes a weight off your shoulders. You have to have insurance for yourself, but Donnie carries the license and you cook under his license.”
The biggest lesson the Hills hope to pass on is for young entrepreneurs to jump out on faith.
“If you have an idea, move forward with it. You will always find someone to help and guide you,” Donna said.