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Biz Buzz: Local couple opens popular gumbo restaurant after escaping COVID-19 woes in Texas

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Do you want to know what’s happening in the eastern Idaho business scene? We’ve got you covered. Here is a rundown of this week’s business news across the valley.

BIZ BUZZ

IDAHO FALLS

Texas natives carving out a living in eastern Idaho with gumbo restaurant

horner family photo
Ashley and Brian Horner, right, with their three kids. | Ashley Horner

IDAHO FALLS – Living in Idaho Falls was never the plan for Brian and Ashley Horner.

Their story is similar to many other families negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They moved here from southeast Texas in October 2020 to escape financial woes related to businesses being shut down.

Now they own a weekend pick-up/delivery business that serves up gumbo. It’s a stew-like dish served with sausage and another type of meat such as beef, chicken or shrimp, along with a flour and oil thickener that includes rice, celery, bell peppers and onions. They also make Boudin balls — a breaded cajun sausage made with ground pork and rice — and other southern dishes for customers in eastern Idaho.

The business is called That Gumbo Guy and the couple tells EastIdahoNews.com they couldn’t be happier with the reception they’ve received.

“It’s rare to say that people nine times out of 10 are actually nice. Idaho Falls-Ammon has been real good to us and we’re hoping we can stick around for a while,” Brian says with a prominent southern accent.

Since August when they officially launched, there were very few people who even knew what gumbo was. But it’s really taken off.

Brian says they are slammed filling orders every weekend, putting in a minimum 12 hour day. They spend Friday night and Saturday preparing food and serve it on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“We sell out most Saturdays,” says Brian. “It takes so long to make a good pot of gumbo. There’s a certain point where you can’t make it anymore or else it won’t be as good.”

gumbo guy menu items
Menu items offered at That Gumbo Guy. | Ashley Horner

The part-time gig has proven to be a profitable venture for Brian, Ashley and their three children as he works to complete an online IT degree through Purdue University Global.

Despite having a lot on their plate (no pun intended) right now, the couple is grateful to be carving out a living halfway across the country after a particularly challenging year.

As businesses were being shut down last year, Brian was between jobs with no prospects and decided to start school.

“There wasn’t anything holding us (there), so we just decided to make a lifestyle change,” he says. “We came up here to live with my mother-in-law, who was working at the site. She’s always wanted a restaurant. I love to cook and she liked my gumbo.”

There wasn’t any place to get gumbo at the time so they decided to open a restaurant and bring it to the Gem State.

The Horners lease space at 3950 South Yellowstone Highway inside the old Billman’s Catering to make all their food. After seeing such a tremendous response, the duo would eventually like to have their own building.

Still, they know how unstable the industry can be and they’re not willing to jump into something “too big too soon.”

“Right now, we’re staffed with just our family. If we get into a full restaurant … we’ll have to hire more staff. It’s definitely a goal, but I want to master this to make sure it’s sustainable in the long run,” Brian explains.

And Brian is happy to have something lucrative to fall back on if it (pardon the pun) all goes south.

“If this happens to work out, I’m fine with putting an IT degree on the backburner and dishing out gumbo until I can’t anymore,” he says.

For now, the Horners are enjoying the open space, clean air and mountains of Idaho and they’re happy to offer customers a little taste of southeast Texas. Beginning Dec. 17, they’ll also be serving gumbo at the Labelle Lake Ice Palace north of Rigby.

Visit the Facebook page to learn more. You can also place an order through Grubhub or call (208) 973-1473.

BIZ BITS

Organizers gearing up for annual Midnight Madness and light parade in Rigby next month

RIGBY – The Rigby Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for the annual Midnight Madness sale and light parade on Friday, Dec. 3. The parade theme this year is “Christmas Classics: Movies, music and stories,” and will get underway at 6:30 p.m. It will start at Squealers Parking Lot on Rigby Lake Drive and end at Rigby City Park. Float entries are now being accepted. Contact Chamber President Teresa Anderson at (208) 745-8715 for more information. Midnight Madness will immediately follow with late-night shopping and deals.

SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

REXBURG

Identifying threats and knowing how to respond is focus of self-defense training business

REXBURG — As a lifelong student of edged weapons, Tae Kwondo and Jiu-jitsu, Rexburg native Robert Wylie has been teaching self-defense practices for many years.

He and his wife, Catrina, have helped many friends and neighbors in abusive or other threatening situations. They believe self-defense or preparedness skills are beneficial for everyone to know, and they want to be able to help more people.

So it made sense when, in 2019, they decided to launch a business called DPPDefense (Daily Practical Personal Defense) to teach these skills to businesses, schools, church groups and other organizations in eastern Idaho.

In the video above, Robert addresses what you can do the next time you encounter a vicious dog.

READ THE FULL STORY HERE.

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If you have a Biz Buzz item you want to share, send it to rett@eastidahonews.com. Remember to use “Biz Buzz” in the subject line. Also, don’t forget to sign up for the free Biz Buzz email newsletter.

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