Q+A with Royal Blue Grocery Founders Emily and Zac Porter
Our latest Fridays with Flea Style podcast with is a couple of Dallas rockstars setting the local food and coffee scene ablaze with their Instagramable decor, cozy-chic vibe and unique food and coffee offerings.
It’s not easy to make it in the food world — especially the Dallas culinary scene with its rampant competition. That’s why we think these small business owners are simply amazing and are so excited to share their unique story with you.
Spoiler alert: They both still have demanding day jobs while making this side hustle happen. Tune in to hear their full story below.
For people not familiar with Royal Blue, give us a little low down:
Zac: Royal Blue is a boutique grocery store in Highland Park Village. We’ve been open almost three years now. My wife, Emily, and I are the owners of the Dallas location(s). We were huge fans of the Austin location and really desired having something like that in our city. When the space opened up in our neighborhood we realized it was a great opportunity to bring something special to Highland Park Village. We essentially asked the Austin owners if we could open a branch here. After our first Dallas location’s success, we are excited to announce we are opening two more locations in the Dallas area.
Emily what do you do and how are you involved with Royal Blue?
Emily: I’ve been in residential real estate for 13 years. It’s my passion. For Royal Blue, I handle social media and Instagram. When we started, there wasn’t money to hire for social media or marketing so we all pitched in to make it happen. I’m at Royal Blue several times a day and love to make sure everything is presented well and our customers have what they need and what they want.
How did you approach the Royal Blue Austin owners about opening a location in Dallas?
Zac: They originally wanted us to create a totally different concept with a different name while simply consulting us. We were prepared to do so, however, a franchise model was just the right fit for us.
How have you marketed it here in Dallas without spending a ton of money?
Emily: We’ve never paid for marketing. Thankfully, Highland Park Village has been really great promoting us. But truly it has grown organically and word has just spread. Zack says it best: We are bringing people together through food and building a community. And people are passionate about that.
Let’s peel back the curtain. Instagram can be really glossy but owning a successful company is really hard. What’s your day-to-day like juggling your businesses?
Emily: I have a team that I work with at Dave Perry Miller and I make sure to be at the office everyday. Fortunately with real estate, I can be pretty mobile. Sometimes we’ll work from Royal Blue and I’ll place orders of whatever we need or check in on things. It was difficult to juggle both at first but after about six months, we got into a groove. No one can prepare you for how difficult starting your own business can be. It was truly a learning curve.
Zac, how did you figure out the grocery business with a commercial real estate background?
Zac: The founders really helped with a launching pad and basic framework. We just wanted the store to be what we were looking for as consumers. We maybe got it 80% right on day one with the products we were carrying. After that, we listened really closely to what the customers wanted and took a lot of requests. We still take requests if people don’t find what they’re looking for.
Emily: We really rely on our staff and we wouldn’t be here without them.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Zac: Everyone says having restaurant is really hard. It is! On top of producing fresh food everyday, we have a coffee bar and wine bar. We have tons of skus on the shelf and juggling all of that as well as expired product, product that needs to be restocked, product that needs to be taken off the shelf, etc. it’s a lot. Managing it all can drive you a little crazy. There was a lot of stress in figuring that out.
Emily: We were both used to calling the shots in our own businesses. To become a collaborative decision making team together with our other business partner, Cullen, was a learning curve. But we are a family and we make decisions together and we honestly do it very well.
Last meal on earth?
Emily: Louie’s Pizza
Zac: The wagyu pepper steak from Fachini
Go-to coffee order?
Emily: Hot coconut milk latte
Zac: Stumptown cold brew
Emily: We pretty much go to bed at 10 p.m. every night.
Wake up time?
Emily: 7:30 a.m.
Zac: 6:30 a.m.
Last movie you saw?
Emily: Midnight in Paris
Zac: Probably a documentary
Emily: I don’t know… Daniel Craig as James Bond is handsome…
Zac: I plead the fifth!
Dream vacation destination?
Emily: I think we’d both love to be in the Bahamas right now…
Don’t miss Zac and Emily’s entire podcast. It’s so good! Check it out along with other Fridays with Flea Style episodes on iTunes here.