COOKING UP A LEGACY
Beneva Mayweather’s skill in the kitchen was too good for her to remain as a salad girl at the Memphis Hunting Polo Club. She worked her way up to the position of head chef before a club member encouraged her to start her own business in 1973. Drawing on all her cooking experience, plus several personal kitchen secrets she’d developed, Mayweather founded her own catering company.
Today, Mayweather’s grandson, Daniel Watson (pictured), carries on the cooking legacy. Daniel created the Beneva Mayweather Foods brand in 2007, offering flavors and seasonings used by Beneva during her time as a chef. In addition, the company bakes gourmet yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls. But Daniel’s involvement runs back much farther than that.
During his school years, when the company was known as Mayweather Catering, contributing his ideas to the business became an escape for him.
After leaving home to attend Morehouse College, he felt an overwhelming feeling one night to call his grandmother, who had been hospitalized during his freshman year. However, he decided it was too late to call; the next day, he received the news that she had passed.
Emma Lincoln, Daniel’s aunt who helped raise him, decided to complete the cookbook that she had started with Beneva in order to honor her. That inspired Daniel to make some supplements to go along with it. The goal was to brand his ideas around his grandmother. Eventually, Daniel took charge of the company, realizing he “could either work for a company or come back to Memphis and truly have an impact.” He also wished to create some wealth and bring value to the business so his aunt could retire.
Now, his vision and hope for the future is for Beneva Mayweather Foods to be “America’s grandmother,” providing quality food across the nation. The start of Daniel’s entrepreneurial journey came with many hurdles, such as convincing stores to stock his spices, breads, and baked goods, finding a co-packer, and finding anyone willing to drive around and stock stores (so he stocked them himself right out of his truck). Now, the biggest hurdle for Daniel is to keep shelves stocked, which he acknowledges is a good problem.
Daniel hopes to continue his grandmother’s legacy and commitment to the business and customers. He says he’s “making sure [he’s] committed to the product” and doesn’t “make it about chasing money.” He wants to devote himself to the quality of the food and to never “cut corners, but hug corners. It is a business and I have to look at that reality,” he acknowledges. But he hopes to make sure every time a customer takes a bite, they are getting the same experience and feel exactly what he’s putting into it.
Daniel aspires for the business to become the number one most preferred food brand in the nation. “I want people to say, ‘Hey you know what? We like this,’” he says. The company gives him a mission and a purpose: to give back, grateful for what was given to him in his childhood. His grandmother and aunt never let him “fall by the wayside” and now he wants to give as much as he can to the Memphis community in the form of quality food. “I’m still building a business model that has many opportunities,” says Daniel. He’s hoping to produce more than cinnamon rolls; next up on his agenda are entrées – which is how his grandmother built up her reputation – so people can buy them in stores as well. He hopes that the culinary experience is as close to perfection as possible and exceeds clients’ expectations. Daniel has big plans for Beneva Mayweather Foods, but what is most near and dear to his heart is for people to enjoy his grandmother’s food, and in turn, continue her legacy.
— By Angie Harri
WHAT’S GOING ON
– Tech-related employment in the Memphis metropolitan area held steady in 2018 and the tech sector expanded its contribution to the local economy, according to Cyberstates 2019, a guide to tech sector and workforce analytics released this week by the technology industry association CompTIA. Net tech employment in the Memphis market totals an estimated 26,340 workers, or 4 percent of the region’s total workforce. The tech sector’s contribution to the local economy is estimated at $2.5 billion, equal to about 3.6 percent of the total economy. Tech occupations in high demand in the market include computer support specialists (+2.6 percent year over year growth) and software and web developers (+1.9 percent). And the median tech occupation wage is $66,994; 77 percent higher than the median wage for all occupations.
The outlook for future employment growth is positive the study says. The Memphis market saw a 259 percent increase in the number of job postings related to emerging technologies. Cyberstates projects the Memphis area’s base of tech occupation employment – a subset of net tech employment – will grow by 7.7 percent by 2026.
The full report, with complete national, state and metropolitan level data, is available here.
– Three orthopedic practices in the Memphis metro area have merged to become OrthoSouth, now a single orthopedic brand with 35 doctors, 44 physical therapists, seven clinic locations, two MRI suites and two orthopedic outpatient surgery centers. Memphis Orthopaedic Group, OrthoMemphis, and Tabor Orthopedics have joined and the new partnership is putting the focus on patient service and experience. OrthoSouth has three new initiatives: live answering within its call center, improved customer service, and an online appointment-scheduling capability.
– Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital’s operation room expansion opened this week with its first patients coming in Thursday. The operating room expansion is part of a $16 million, 32,000 square foot addition to the hospital. The expansion included the addition of four new operating rooms with space to add three more.
NEWS FROM OTHER SOURCES
– TVA is planning to remove coal ash from the Allen Fossil Plant. Read Toby Sells’ story in the Memphis Flyer here.
– On Monday the city of Memphis announced “Create Your Space,” an open call for ideas on what to do with the Memphis College of Art building and the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art facility. The college is closing next year and the Brooks is planning to move downtown in 2024. Read Elle Perry’s story in the Daily Memphian here.
– Cargo volume is up at Memphis International Airport, securing its status as North America’s busiest cargo airport. Read Max Garland’s story in The Commercial Appeal here.
– A groundbreaking was held for a new enterprise in Soulsville that will offer a state-of-the-art video game lounge that includes an eSports arena, eSports Academy, a student video game development training center, entrepreneurial training center, retail store, workspace, and financial literacy center. Read the Tri-State Defender story here.
– A building permit for $7 million was filed this week for construction of a new Wiseacre Brewing facility and tap room. Read Meagan Nichols story in the Memphis Business Journal here.
Got an event? Send your info to Samuel X. Cicci at [email protected]
– Dr. James Lawson & the Future of Memphis: Clayborn Temple will host its fourth and final event in the 2019 In This Place speaker series April 5 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Professor and civil rights activist Rev. Lawson will share stories of his work and experiences, how they apply to Memphis, and what communities can do to ensure a better future for the city. Admission is free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP here.
– Margarita Festival: Vote on the city’s best margarita makers. Ticket ($34) includes entry to the event and 15 margarita samples, plus food, cash bar, and entertainment. Proceeds benefit Volunteer Memphis. May 11, 3-6 p.m., Fourth Bluff Park. More info here.
THE HOT SHEET
Who’s getting promoted? Who’s closing big deals? Who’s getting awards? Inside Memphis Business magazine’s Hot Sheet has the latest on milestones in Memphis.
– Hollywood Feed named Breanna Fuller as event coordinator for stores across its 14-state footprint.
– FORTUNE and Great Place to Work named Pinnacle as the number two best workplace in the country for financial services and insurance.
– Downtown Memphis Commission hired Erik Stevenson (pictured) as commercial strategist.
– Fullen Dock and Warehouse secured a Foreign-Trade Zone designation from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
– Running Pony hired Chassidy Jade as an Avid editor.
– International Paper awarded a pair of $25,000 grants to the Pink Palace Museum and Lichterman Nature Center.
– Drew Taylor has been named Senior Vice President of Asset Management at Fogelman Properties. The privately-owned multifamily investment and property management company also says its acquisition activity grew more than 100 percent from 2018 to 2019, including more than 2,000 units across six multifamily communities over the past 12 months.
Inside Memphis Business magazine publishes a list of local Power Players every year. These are the movers and shakers in more than 30 categories who get things done in their respective fields. IMB’s April issue has the complete list. We also publish individual categories in other issues throughout the year, and we feature individual Power Players in our weekly Tip Sheet.
This week’s Power Player is Pat Nelson, president, Lehman-Roberts Company. Chairman of the Board, Lehman-Roberts Company and Memphis Stone & Gravel Company. B.A., Rhodes College. M.B.A, University of Memphis. Elder and former Staff Committee Chair and Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair, Second Presbyterian Church. Executive Committee Secretary, National Asphalt Pavement Association. Board member, Tennessee Road Builders Association, Presbyterian Day School and Independent Bank. Member, Young Presidents’ Organization. Former board member, Streets Ministries.
“Closure-in-place was never an option in mind, not in anybody’s mind. That’s the equivalent of doing nothing, basically. It can’t be done. We all know there’s no protective clay layer below (the coal ash ponds). They have got to get (the coal ash) out of there.”
– Ward Archer, president of Protect Our Aquifer, on TVA’s plan to get rid of the coal ash from the Allen Fossil Plant. Read the story here.