Anna Margaret Foster
Dependable employees are something some Oxford business owners crave.
Tiffany Franks, owner of the new dessert cafe Crave in Oxford, said it can be challenging finding employees in a college town who commit to the job.
“Specific to Oxford, one problem we face as a business owner is the longevity of employees,” she said. “We chose to have a positive outlook and not believe the murmurs, but unfortunately, we have also found the murmurs to be true. We have a tenured staff at other locations with the same business model, so it is definitely challenging to understand the transient mindset of some employees at this particular location.”
Franks opened Crave in June of 2018. Originally located in Tupelo, Crave is a place where people gather to enjoy coffee, desserts, and a fun atmosphere, but Franks said the idea of opening an Oxford business was always on her mind.
“We chose to open in Oxford because Oxford has a strong sense of community while also being very progressive,” Franks said. “We opened a dessert café because it fit our business objective of creating a place to cultivate relationships while also turning a profit. I’ve always had a passion for cooking, and from a young age, played the part of a hostess. Catering and working in the restaurant business in earlier years paved the road for me to open Crave.”
Franks said she has been excited since opening her business in Oxford, but there have been many changes.
“Our hours have changed drastically, and we added on a full-on coffee business,” she said. “When we first opened our original location, we were only open on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night. After opening our second location, we extended our hours to be open seven days a week with all day – daytime hours. And at our third location, Oxford, we are open all day and late evenings as well seven days a week.”
Franks believes her business has been successful because it is unique. “We are the only dessert café in our region open seven days a week,” she said. “When I first opened four years ago, I was the only dessert café at all in the lower Southern region. Since my opening, three other cafés specializing in dessert opened up within a 20-mile radius from our original location. We are still the only one open of our magnitude.”
Franks believes the uniqueness attracts Ole Miss students like freshmen Lauren Hoffman and Taylor Textor.
“I love this place,” Hoffman said. “Being a freshman from out of state, I was looking for a place [like Crave] to be able to study as well as relax and hang out with friends. This is the perfect atmosphere for that.”
Textor said Crave has made her feel welcome in the community. “I come here all of the time with my friends,” she said. “It’s fun and cozy atmosphere makes me feel like I am at home.”
It hasn’t been easy since she opened the business. Franks said she been living between Oxford and Tupelo the past few months. “From the moment I wake up until I go to sleep, I field massive amounts of text messages, emails, phone calls, and social media messages,” she said. “Throughout the day, I post various ads on different social media platforms. Some of the day is spent planning ahead for the upcoming weeks, months, etc. Scheduling, ordering supplies, and paying bills occurs at some point of the day. Throughout the day, I also closely monitor labor costs at all the locations.”
Wwning a business can be stressful. “The hardest thing about owning a business for me personally is trying to maintain a thick skin when my skin is not normally thick at all,” she said. “For instance, I treat employees like my kids, so I’m not as thick-skinned as I need to be when I realize I’ve hired someone with character defects. Also, I truly care about my customers’ happiness, so on the rare occasion we get a less than favorable or dishonest review, I tend to take it personal.”
Franks hopes her business will bring the Lafayette community together. “I have learned that if you truly care about your customers and the community you are in, they will care about you,” she said. “Oxford has been very welcoming and has solidified that we made a good choice in choosing a location. She is optimistic about the future and said the reaction from the Oxford community has inspired her to bring Crave to other communities. She also hopes her story will inspire others like herself wanting to open a business or expand their business to other locations.”