The entire time that Tia Chancellor was working as a police dispatcher in Harrodsburg, KY, she was dreaming of the day that she could open her own business doing what she loved—baking—utilizing recipes that had been handed down through her family. Thanks to the ongoing partnership between the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky, Chancellor got the help she needed to realize her entrepreneurial dream.
“Nobody ever calls the police because they are having a good day—it’s always bad,” Chancellor joked. “But I am the eternal optimist.” That optimism served the budding entrepreneur well, as even though her credit was great and they loved her business plan for Sweet Matriarch Bakery, bank after bank turned her down because “I had zero experience (running a restaurant).” But then the SBA pointed her in the direction of Phyllis Alcorn and Community Ventures.
Chancellor worked with Phyllis and the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky to obtain the technical assistance and business training she needed to run her business effectively. “Ms. Alcorn didn’t laugh—she helped me and I got a loan,” Chancellor explained. “They weren’t large amounts but they meant a lot, because I didn’t have investors. I wouldn’t have been able to open.”
With the small business microloan she obtained through the SBA and Community Ventures, coupled with the one on one training she received, Chancellor would soon reach the day she dreamed of – when she finally launched her restaurant business. “I’m grateful for the support they provided. SBA CV is a mentor company. To this day, I can call Phyllis with any questions and she still helps me find the answers.”
Chancellor remembered her southern roots as she talked about growing up in the kitchen working alongside her mom, her Granny and her Great Granny.
“They loved to cook and feed people and I do, too,” the bubbly baker remembered. “One day I said ‘Hey Granny…wanna open a bakery?” To Chancellor’s surprise and delight, Granny said yes and Sweet Matriarch had an instant name.
Although her grandmother passed away unexpectedly 5 years ago, the Georgetown bakery is going strong and celebrated its 8th birthday in June. The shop specializes in wedding and birthday cakes, so 2020 was an especially tough year to weather as most gatherings were curtailed due to Covid. But as any good visionary does, Chancellor took the time she gained from the bakery’s slowdown to brainchild a new venture that could serve customers safely through a walk-up window.
Cattywampus Station, located in Lexington at Lexington Green, specializes in ‘over the top’ milkshakes, individually tailored to each customer and topped with bits and pieces of the decadent desserts that make Sweet Matriarch so popular.
“Everyone loves these shakes, whether they are 3 years old or 90,” notes Chancellor. “And people don’t seem to mind that it is a process to craft them, so it takes a bit of time.”
Chancellor now mans the Lexington store while her mom oversees the bakery in Georgetown. Cattywampus Station will soon be adding some other typical American fare to their menu as burgers, fries, chicken tenders and more are on the horizon as soon as the staffing situation normalizes a bit.
When asked about her future plans, the 41-year-old mother of young twins comes full circle back to family. Chancellor envisions opening a sit-down restaurant where she can again work alongside her mom and—this time around—her kids. She pictures the day when she will feed all who will come by cooking the time-tested southern recipes handed down to her by the matriarchs that so lovingly taught her their craft.