Co-owner of Skillet2Plate Soul Bistro makes entrepreneurship a family pursuit
- When Lauren Days opened Skillet2Plate Soul Bistro with her husband, Terrence, and their blended family of six kids, she knew it would be a family venture.
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Sizzling chicken & waffles take shape next to a plate of fish and grits at the Skillet2Plate Soul Bistro counter as Lauren and Terrence Days and five of their six children work to serve southern comfort food favorites to downtown York.
The couple opened Skillet2Plate in February 2020, three weeks before the COVID-19 shutdown. From March through May 2020, their doors were shut while Lauren made a hard press to get the Bistro’s name out through networking and online.
When they opened again in May, Lauren hit the ground running but with a caveat – school was still closed for their children, now ages 9 to 25.
She decided to make the best of a seemingly impossible situation. In between virtual classes and online assignments, her older children were sauteing shrimp and serving peach tea.
“They needed to see,” she says, “that it takes work to get what you want.”
Drawing on her past
Meanwhile, an idea to open an event venue based on her own childhood experience brewed in her mind.
She remembers regularly traveling with her grandmother to her great aunts’ houses. They would spend hours dancing and eating surrounded by loved ones. The tradition started when Lauren was 4 or 5 and continued until her grandmother got sick during Lauren’s teenage years.
When she became a mom, Lauren continued the tradition with regular barbecues and dinner parties.
Those experiences blossomed into a business idea six years ago, when she and Terrence got married.
After her wedding, Lauren knew then that an event venue was in her future. She named her venue in honor of her grandmother, Sara Ellen.
Teens taking on leadership
When Lauren opened Sara Ellen Event Venue in August 2021, her 14-year-old son wanted a bigger role beyond working as a dishwasher at the Bistro.
She designated him as the venue manager, and he learned every inch of the space, including how to clean it, conduct tours, and help set up events.
“They can run it,” Lauren says of her children. “We tell them, if anything happens to us, you know what to do.”
A room with a view
In 2022, with the Bistro growing and Sara Ellen Event Venue booked up months in advance, Lauren and Terrence were ready to take on a new challenge.
On February 22, Skillet2Plate moved to a new location at 221 W. Philadelphia St. in York. Near the waterfront of the Codorus Creek with floor to ceiling windows overlooking downtown York, the location spoke to Lauren’s love of water and all things outdoors.
In the future, she and Terrence are also looking to potentially open a sports bar and a second event venue with outdoor space.
“We want to keep all of our businesses in York, ideally downtown,” Lauren says. “The energy here draws us in.”