Diana “Dee” and Dana Scott have been the successful co-owners of Studio D Catering in Jamestown since 2014. They have catered groups as large as 450 people in various locations around Chautauqua County and they have entertained diners—from intimate groups as small as two to cocktail parties for as many as 90—in their restaurant venue upstairs at 106 East Second Street, in Downtown Jamestown.
But this year Dee and Dana are doing something new. It’s a fully equipped barbecue trailer serving lunchtime barbecue, hot meals, and much more under the shade trees beside Pine Street at the corner of E. 2nd . “We do a lot of what folks call good street food,” Dee explained to the Jamestown Gazette last week.
“In the first three days that we have been open, we have sold out every day,” Dee said, “since our Grand opening on August 15.”
Starting the New Business
“You always wanted to do this,” Dana told Dee seven years ago — speaking of the restaurant and catering business — “so why don’t you just do it?”
“I had taken a year off after 18 years in retail sales,” Dana said, “so I reinvented myself.” After they made Studio D Catering the success it is now, Dee invented her food truck. Dana built a fully functioning kitchen inside a brand-new trailer, including plumbing, sinks, refrigeration, and a front porch barbecue.
“I always wanted a food truck,” Dee said, “but I did not want to go on the road. So, I asked the city if I could put a food trailer here.”
“The city was wonderful in helping me make the arrangements, including the city council’s looking over my plan, the Department of Development’s review, and our new mayor’s help moving it through the process of leasing the parking lot at the corner of Pine Street and 2nd .
“We have tables in the cool shade under the trees with comfortable spacing,” Dee said. “The city Parks Department helped us with planters and some of the merchants contributed flowers. Everybody’s been very helpful. We’re helping to create a restaurant district for the city which will bring in more customers for everyone.”
“We are the first in town to do this, the test case,” Dee added.
A New Niche
“I decided to do something different, something that wasn’t already being done in Jamestown,” Dee explained. “Why do something that somebody else is already doing quite well? That’s why I don’t have a set menu. For large events everything is customized to the client’s tastes and desires. I just let them tell me what they want.”
“We try to make it a little more of a high-end experience and change things up every so often. Our customers always have a chance to be delighted with something new. Sometimes it’s 16 or 18 hour days, but I would not change it for anything.”
“To be successful, you need to be creative, you simply can’t allow your business to get stale. Every day our menu changes.”
“We did jambalaya the other day” (a traditional old Cajun dish made from the likes of rice, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables) "and we sold out right away,” Dee said, delighted that something not usually seen in Jamestown went over so well. “Sometimes we do Tai food, too. That kind of variation fills a niche that diners appreciate. I try to stay away from menu items that other people are already doing just fine at.”
“For the grand opening of our barbecue trailer we had a ‘Soul Roll.’ Nobody had ever seen one before. It’s barbecue pork, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens, all in an egg roll, and fried. A visitor from Los Angeles said it was the best thing he ever had.”
“I didn’t even know I liked collard greens,” the man said, “‘till I had some.”
Dee also does a pork taco wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for 15 to 20 hours. The menu at Studio D’s food truck is clearly creative and different nearly every day.
A Special Venue
Studio D Catering has operated the dine-in venue on the third floor above Chautauqua Music for years. That venue now occupies 1800 square feet and offers guests a beautiful and unique view of Brooklyn Square and far beyond. “We have 14 windows and you can see for miles,” Dee said.
“The reason I wanted to have a food trailer is that I just don’t think we have enough people walking around downtown Jamestown. And I started thinking about it seven years ago,” Dee said.
She has made herself the Downtown Ambassador. “I just wanted folks out of their cars and enjoying the city. She invites guests and diners to sample the shops and venues all around downtown, for ice cream, or coffee, or theaters, or souvenirs, or anything else downtown has to offer. All of the downtown merchants network together and support each other.
Advice: The Network Solution
Dee and Dana advise anyone planning to start a business to team up with somebody who is already successful and add something of value to their business. “If they need something you can do,” Dee says, “help them and become known for the things you are good at. Then keep networking with other people until you can step out on your own.”
“I’m here until the snow flies,” Dee promised. “At the moment, our hours are 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., lunchtime, on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of every week. Everyone is invited.
Jamestown Gazette readers can learn more at facebook.com/studiodcatering, by calling (716) 640-6035, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or best of all, stopping in at 106 East Second Street, Jamestown, New York and meet Dee and Dana.