Lisa Yustisia founded Rendang Uni Ita in Kirksville in 2020. Her story, told to reporter Indah Setiawati, has been edited for length and clarity.
My mom is from West Sumatra, Indonesia, which is famous for its beef rendang (beef slow-cooked in coconut milk and spices). It is voted as the world’s most delicious food, according to CNN. My mom loves cooking and I grew up eating her delicious rendang.
I told her that she should sell the dish and even created a logo for her, but she said she was too busy. I started thinking to open the business myself with my mom’s recipe. I enjoy cooking and baking, and I like to make people happy with my food. I also hoped that this dish could enrich the food diversity in the United States.
I knew that I would need to have a business permit, so I met a food business consultant in Kirksville. It’s a free consultation. I worked on my business permit application, my recipe, new logo and marketing. A couple of months later, my application was approved.
I use halal meat because there are many Muslims in the U.S. They need to eat halal meat, which is slaughtered by saying the name of God. I also sell pineapple tart and other cookies.
My food business is very small, but it’s quite popular in the farmers market and among Indonesian friends in the United States. I run everything by myself, from production to shipping. A lot of businesses are suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic, but my business is among the few that is growing.
I received many orders ahead of Christmas last year, which made me overwhelmed. I will need to have a better strategy in the next holiday season. I want to hire employees and open my restaurant in the future.
Food businesses such as cooking and baking require patience not only during the production process but also in handling unhappy customers. You have to be hardworking. Praying is also important for me because I believe that God will guide us to be successful.