Sitting outside of Killeen High School, the Taste-N-See is a small restaurant that served mostly students during lunch.

“Without the kids we probably wouldn’t be here now,” owner Gracey Smith said. “We don’t get enough adult traffic in the evenings.”

Being a small business owner, with no previous entrepreneur experience, Smith tried everything she could think of to turn her failing business of three years into a profit maker.

She advertised, adjusted operating hours and marketed her brand, but the only business they were seeing was from high school students.

On Monday, however, customers will see changes to the Taste-N-See thanks to Central Texas College Enactus, which helped Smith implement new business strategies and remodel and rename this store.

Now called The Roo Stop, the restaurant has a new menu, too.

“We wanted to see what we could do to bring them back to profitability,” said Michael Leatherman, an Enactus student.

Taste-N-See was a perfect fit for the entrepreneurial group’s Step Up program that sets out to save a struggling and failing business by obtaining grant money and using it as a hands-on project for its members.

More than $3,000 in grants was obtained for Smith’s business, said Chastity Clemons, a business management professor at Central Texas College and the Enactus coordinator. Students got grants from Coca-Cola and Sam’s Club.

Donations also came from other businesses, such as the paint donated by Sherwin Williams.

Physical and operation changes

Regular customers are already experiencing a number of changes, Smith said.

During the last two weeks, Enactus remodeled the store to allow for more seating and a faster, more organized prep station, Leatherman said. It also brought in commercial fryers and will later install an oven.

“We are excited,” Smith said. “We love what they did. The kids love what they did. It has helped us out already. We have more room in here now and I can’t wait until Monday. I think it is going to really help the business grow.”

Another helpful benefit for the business is the bookkeeping that the students taught Smith.

She said they showed her where she was losing money, and how to price items to make a profit.

Enactus helped Smith narrow down the menu to prevent waste and highlight items that make a profit.

One of the best things about the Step Up program is that both the students and the business owner learn from the process, Clemons said.

“For the students, it is the process that we learn in the classroom, but they are getting hands on experience,” Clemons said. “A lot of the students want to be business owners. They can now say, when I start my own business (they) know not to do this and not to do that.”

Contact Mason W. Canales at ​ or (254) 501-7474

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