Success Story

Owners of Wicked Bao Restaurant

Wicked Bao

The SBDC was there to help me from day one and assisted me through the entire process.

Nathalie Wu always has a smile on her face. Her contagious energy and upbeat attitude can be a lesson of resolve and an inspiration for existing and aspiring small business owners who have challenge after challenge in their entrepreneurial journey.

Nathalie decided to open an Asian street food restaurant in Fernandina Beach as a way to secure a future for herself and her family. Three years ago, Nathalie lost her husband, Thomas, in a tragic automobile accident. Both Nathalie and Thomas are well loved and respected in the community. When Nathalie made the decision to start her business, she already had clientele waiting for her grand opening, not only as a show of support for her but also because they were excited about her restaurant concept. She drew upon her culinary experience, attention to detail, and commitment to customer service to form the business concept.

During the planning process, Nathalie had many challenges to overcome. Finding an adequate location to lease was particularly tricky. Nathalie felt it was important to be located in downtown Fernandina Beach. She needed a site that would not require a burdensome buildout in order to be sure she would have adequate working capital to launch and run the business. Her options were limited. She ultimately chose a site that had a fully built out commercial kitchen, bar, adequate seating, and no impact fees. The site is well known to local residents as it previously housed a popular restaurant/bar called Wicked Davey’s. The location is a few blocks off Center Street in downtown Fernandina, which has been a challenge for subsequent food establishments. So Nathalie decided to name her restaurant “Wicked Bao” to give customers a reminder and point of reference of the restaurant’s location. The word “Bao” is the Chinese word for bun. Her menu features items that are popular for a fast casual Asian restaurant. There are 3 main types of food selections on the menu: Small Plates, Noodle & Rice Bowls, and Baos.

The planning and preparation to open the restaurant took several months. Nathalie came to the FSBDC in January 2017 seeking help with writing her business plan, creating financial projections and capital requirements, setting up her legal entity, staffing, and creating a marketing plan. Nathalie also asked for referrals from the FSBDC for other professional assistance such as an attorney, a website designer, and suppliers. “The SBDC was there to help me from day one and assisted me through the entire process. Jodi helped me to create my budget and hiring requirements, understand my lease options, establish a marketing plan, and decide on my legal entity. I could not have done it without her help.”

Nathalie opened the doors to Wicked Bao on December 20th in 2017 and the line to get in is out the front door almost every night. Her concept is very popular with visitors and residents on Amelia Island, and her future is as bright as the always-present smile on her face!

Wicked BaoNathalie Wu

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