Alumni turn Cajun restaurant into successful franchise company
In 1990, the Abraham family decided to move from New Orleans to Belle Glade. Wanting to introduce the unique foods of the Bayou to the Glades, they opened a family business called Mr. Shrimp using original Cajun family recipes.
Hick and Jamila eventually took over operations from their parents, to expand the concept to the rest of South Florida, rebranding from a market-style concept to a fast-casual restaurant. Fellow alumnus Arrua Abraham helped with this expansion using her architectural expertise to design the new concept.
Now called Mr. Shrimp Cajun Kitchen, the restaurant is officially a franchise company with locations in Belle Glade, Lake Worth, Pembroke Pines and Pompano Beach. The team says they hope to further expand in Florida and eventually out-of-state.
Hick, the company’s chief financial officer who graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 2004, says he learned how to take the business to the next level while at Palm Beach State.
“Being children of business owners, business was always in our blood,” Hick said. “Palm Beach State taught us the basics to running a more corporate style operation and allowed us to grow away from a family-run business.”
While at PBSC, Hick and Jamila also had the opportunity to be a part of the Junior Achievement Program and give back to the community by teaching underprivileged children basic life skills like writing checks, money management and basic economic principals.
“Community outreach is important to us,” said Jamila, the company’s chief strategy officer who graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 2000. “Growing up in a small town like Belle Glade, we know the value of giving back. PBSC gave us the steppingstones we needed to go on to a university and run a successful business.”
When asked what advice they would give to other PBSC students who want to start their own business, Hick & Jamila agreed that students need to find their passion and stick with it.
“Find something you love and that you are good at and sell it,” said Weston Demino, who graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 2018. Demino is a managing partner in their Palm Springs location and food truck. “Do not be complacent and keep growing. If you stop growing, you will start going backwards.”
Hick, Jamila and Demino say their most valuable concept in the business is running it corporate style on the backend but keeping it family friendly/mom & pop style in the front of the house.
“Customer service is a big part of our business, and we want every customer to feel welcomed and loved,” Hick and Jamila said.
“We owe a lot to our parents who taught us discipline, patience and the value of hard work.
Mr. Shrimp Cajun Kitchen offers flavorful, made-to-order Cajun seafood and chicken cuisine with a Florida twist. For more information, visit mrshrimp.co.
In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.