Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

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January 3, 2014

Unemployment leads to business opportunity — This past year seems to have been the perfect time for second chances when it comes to the Pauls Valley restaurant scene.

Among those diving into the revival of past eateries is area resident Amy Gerrard, who has found a new use for what used to be the How Sweet It Is bakery at 420 E. Grant St.

She is very familiar with what makes people’s mouths water here in town, going all the way back to her first job at Ballard’s Drive-In and decided it was time to go at it on her own earlier this month with what is now called A-Team Family Restaurant.

“I kind of wanted to stay in this business, a social business,” said Gerrard, adding how she bought the location back in August before opening it a few weeks ago. “You always think about jumping in and doing yourself.”

It was just happenstance that Gerrard was even able to start her own restaurant, actually quite content to continue where she had been for the last seven years at downtown staple, Mimi’s.

She noted how she was actually getting ready to be the next in line to run the long time diner when things didn’t work out and she found herself looking for other opportunities.

“It’s all I’ve ever done,” said Gerrard, who also has done bartending and worked in restaurants in other cities. “It’s exciting, lots of anxiety, lots of workload…it’s a lot different than working for someone.”

Gerrard pointed out how when she decided to buy the location from Amy Ritchie, she didn’t even know what she wanted to do with it and one possibility was adding to another business she runs with her husband in managing apartments. It was only after she found a lender that she decided to make the plunge, one that was reinforced by the fact that she will be able to see her kids when they get out of school each day.

The name of the restaurant officially comes from Gerrard’s name since it begins with an A, though she admits at first it was a spin on the partnership she had with her cook Audra Dunn, back to when they worked together previously. She changed it to show she wasn’t playing favorites with her eight employees and said she is trying to offer as wide a range as possible on menu selections, all under $10 each.

“It’s family oriented and we want to target families to come eat,” said Gerrard, noting how the family feel is enhanced by two of her kids helping when they aren’t occupied by their studies. “I’ve got lots of family support, so that helps.”

As far as what Gerrard enjoys most, she said it is being out there with customers and being able to interact with them. She does not mind cooking some special dishes like Shrimp Alfredo, but is not as fond of being in the kitchen all the time.

The family part of the restaurant will be growing soon enough as well after Gerrard’s brother-in-law moves down sometime in 2014 to help cook. He studied under a chef in culinary school and may help add features like catering.

“I like to be able to talk to people, I’ve got to be out there socializing,” said Gerrard, noting how staying here was an easy decision because of how her customers have always appreciated her and treated her well. “Together we’ll do it, the A-Team will do it.”

The restaurant is open every Monday through Saturday from 6 a.m. - 2 p.m., during the evenings from 5-8:30 p.m. on Thursday-Saturday and on Sunday from 11 a.m.-2p.m.

They can be found on facebook as well and can be reached at 405-238-4449.

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