Kyra Pierre’s journey for Florida A&M’s Queen of Orange and Green didn’t end in a crown and sash. Instead, the campaign resulted in her first business venture: KAR Dining Experience.
Pierre, a first-year doctorate of pharmacy candidate from Miami, partnered with her hometown friends Amber Manker, a senior social work student, and Raynal Sands, a senior graphic design student, to provide southern-cooked meals to FAMU students.
KAR Dining Experience began as a fundraiser to handle Pierre’s campaign expenses and an outlet for her to meet new students. The motivation to start the business came from campaign customers.
Sands said students would approach the team on campus and ask when they would start selling dinners again. The demand pushed them to transform the fundraiser into a business.
One year later, KAR Dining provides foods such as crab legs, baked and barbecued chicken, candied yams and corn on the cob. The standard plate includes meat, two sides, cornbread, pound cake and a drink for $7. The trio of friends agree that the most popular menu item is the macaroni and cheese.
KAR Dining provides students an affordable, home-style meal with low-cost delivery fees that are exempted for FAMU’s campus.
KAR Dining Experience celebrated a grand reopening commemorating the new partnership with Student Housing Solutions in March. The women partnered with former Rattler Troy Harris II, a leasing agent who is also a member of STU’s marketing team. He combated both businesses’ needs for exposure and traffic.
“Both businesses have great potential with the freshmen class because freshmen are both more likely to be searching for apartments and also don’t have the means to cook,” Harris said. “We printed thousands of fliers and put them in all of the dorms. It’s a great combo.”
The women take orders by phone and make the transactions using an iPad. KAR Dining has a team of food preparers that includes one person each on sides, main dishes and bagging and others grouping the orders for delivery and pickup. The “core team” includes Pierre, the head chef; Manker, the sous-chef; and Sands, who manages customer service, business relations and publicity. The team also consists of an accountant, kitchen assistant and delivery driver. 12