We are the only southern restaurant…La Crosse was calling out for something different…their families are rooted in the south, they miss this food, their essence speaks to this food…

Fleischa Booker

Owner/Operator, SmashhTyme

We chatted with Fleischa Booker of SmashhTyme Southern Kitchen, offering southern takeout & delivery. They serve up chicken, fish, shrimp, fried gizzards, and a variety of sides. We talked about the origin of the business, how to order and pick up, and where people find out more.

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Transcript

Amy Gabay 00:00
This podcast is brought to you by People’s Food Co Op, a community owned grocery store in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin and Rochester, Minnesota that promotes local farmers and producers through an emphasis on fresh, healthy, sustainable food. Anyone can shop, everyone is welcome. For more information, visit them online at PFC.coop. This podcast is also brought to you by Trempealeau County Tourism. Whether your idea of fun is bicycling, hiking or canoeing, afterwards head into the heart of one of their welcoming communities to experience historic architecture, independent shops and locally owned dining establishments. Visit Trempealeau County Tourism online. We chatted with Fleischa Booker of SmasshTyme Southern Kitchen, offering southern takeout and delivery. They serve up chicken, fish, shrimp, fried gizzards, and a variety of sides. We talk about the origin of the business, how to order and pick up, and where people can find out more. You can find more conversations, food reviews, live music and events on our website lacrosselocal.com. I’m Amy.

Brent Hanifl 01:06
I’m Brent.

Amy Gabay 01:07
And this is La Crosse Local.

Fleischa Booker 01:10
Yes. So my name is Fleischa Booker. I am originally from Chicago, Illinois. I have been in the Coulee Region for over 20 years. So I think came, I had a family members living down this way, approximately about 1992. And so yeah, it’s been that long. And you know, off and on, I go home and check on my mom, I’m an only child. So you know, at some points, probably like back in 2000, I moved back to Chicago for a little bit. And then I just came back to the Coulee Region in 2018. And so a little bit about how I got into cooking. Yeah, I’ve been cooking for a long time ever since, you know, I can remember. And so I got into cooking by watching my grandmother in the kitchen. And so my grandmother was, you know, a master chef, and, you know, she was shuffle up all these good meals for us. And as a child growing up, I was really intrigued by that. And so, you know, long story short, you know, when kids are in the kitchen, you know, parents or grandmothers gonna be like, oh, get out of here, because they don’t want you around the stove. You know, it’s hot. But then with me, I just kept going in there, you know, because I wanted to really see what she was doing. And so once she says that, she started to let me watch. And so that’s how I really started a love and a journey with cooking ever since the age of like seven years old.

Brent Hanifl 02:45
Relatively kind of starting to follow you on Facebook and seeing what you have to offer, which looks amazing. How did how did SmasshTyme Southern Kitchen get started? Like what was the impetus for it?

Fleischa Booker 02:57
Yeah, so actually, you know, a couple of years ago, I had got this job as a debt collector. And so I was really, you know, liking the job really taking to the job, it was really competitive. And I like oh, good competition. And so yeah, I made a couple of friends very good work environment, everybody seemed to have positive energy. And so I was really drawn to this job and was really picking up really fast. And, you know, getting bonuses and just doing just doing really well, you know, and so, right then and there, you know, as I was really getting grown with the job and getting into the job, boom COVID. And so once COVID hit, I fall into like a high risk group, because I’ve been asthmatic all my life. And so I suffer with asthma. And I also have high blood pressure. And so once that hit, I started to still go to work. But at this point, they had the clean, and so they was in there clean and everything and the chemicals that they was using was really setting my asthma off. So I was like, one of the first ones in that particular high risk group that they let go with this set. That’s past, getting into the business ideas for SmasshTyme, and I had a few of them. And so cooking wouldn’t have been my first choice because it’s a lot of physical work. And so oftentimes, you know, when you cook and food and you run the restaurant and stuff like that, people don’t care about the grunt work that you got to do. They just want they food. And so I kept saying, God, you know, I really don’t want to cook cuz that’s I got to stand up all day doing this. And so I had some other ideas, but that was like the faster development one it was like the universe was really speaking to that idea. So I just followed it.

Brent Hanifl 04:59
The business incubator cooking out of the kitchen. Right? That’s where most people come pick it up, or you can actually order it on all the apps. Right? So you got the opportunity to kind of cook when you wanted to in some ways?

Fleischa Booker 05:06
Yeah. Yeah, that’s, you know, a lot of people still walk up that is not, you know, internet savvy. So they’ve heard about me, you know, through word of mouth. So I have walkups. And we do our website, which you can order off of squaresmasshtymesouthernkitchen.com. And it’ll, you know, forward you to the square website where you can order. We also have the East Street app, and Uber Eats that you can order through delivery there, or you can call us and sometimes we deliver as well, too.

Brent Hanifl 05:45
So how did the name come about?

Fleischa Booker 05:47
Yeah, so SmasshTyme is like you want to say like, it’s a lingo that’s used in like the African American households. And so, you know, when we get ready to bang some food, or we really hungry, we’ll be like, man, I’m ready to smash, you know. So that’s how the name came. And so, you know, everybody in our community knows what that is. And so my other family members, SmasshTyme family members, I’m waking them up to a whole nother way of just expression. And, you know, lingo, when I try not to be too proper, I try to be more down to earth on the page. And it seems to be working, and I engage with, you know, a lot of my customers and followers and they seem to like that, you know, we’re almost at 1000 followers. So I’m very proud of that, because I remember when I first got started, and I only had under 100. And so it’s amazing to me, like within three to four months, how it has grown, because we opened up November 1st of 21. And so yeah, I’m very, you know, I’m very intrigued by that.

Brent Hanifl 06:56
So also just kind of following along, and I’m gonna make sure to get over there and try it soon here. You know, you got chicken, you got fish, shrimp, fried gizzard, it’s kind of the traditional Southern cooking dinner combos. How do you think it stands apart? I mean, you’re pretty much the only person in La Crosse offering this sort of food, but how do you kind of stand apart?

Fleischa Booker 07:16
Yeah. And so you know, number one, how we stand apart is, like you said, first, we’re the only southern restaurant here. So that’s B, because it was almost like La Crosse, was calling out for something different. I hear that from the customers a lot like, oh my God. And so a lot of people, their families is rooted in the South, they miss this food, their essence speaks to this food. And so it’s like, man, we haven’t had this in forever. So it’s just like wanting your own kitchen. Home Cooking is like the best cooking that you can possibly have in your body. That’s number two. And so number three, I will have to say that everything that I use in my kitchen, and SmasshTyme Kitchen is organic, all the way down to the flour that we use. And so we get our chicken from a local farmer, its not, you know, through some big distributor. And so that’s another thing that makes our full delicious is that, you know, I get all the way down, you know, as far as that I can really go to making it, you know, wholesome and organic. That’s my goal.

Brent Hanifl 08:33
Is there anything coming up that you’re excited for? Is there any updates on your growth? It seems like you’ve had some success over the past few months. But is there anything coming down the line that you’re excited for?

Fleischa Booker 08:42
Oh yes, absolutely. Like, yeah, not so long ago, we just did a cooking lesson with the public library. And so that was a success. And I’m having a lot of fun doing that. And then we just had a celebration ceremony for all the upcoming entrepreneurs that they had at Boot Hill Pub. And so yeah, we’ve been doing a lot of events, upcoming events will be our commercial, our skit, that’s gonna be on May, right its for May, right. And so NewsChannel 8 will feature this in May, I believe it’s for 30 days. And so they’ll run like these little, you know, mini skits commercials of SmasshTyme and that so we’ve been working on that and just a lot of plans ahead for SmasshTyme.

Brent Hanifl 09:30
You kind of referenced it in earlier, but there’s been a lot of these sort of pickup only or actually going to people’s home kitchens and picking up food. I think some people get a little bit confused about it. So again, like what are the hours? How do they pick it up? You know, does it change?

Fleischa Booker 09:44
Yeah. And you know, since we opened our intention was to be open as some of the later hours, you know, that around bar time because we noticed that there was a market there, and that people want to food around that hour. However, upon opening, we were well into, like our first two weeks. And so one of my employees, which he’s back now, his name is Jimmy, and he lost his father. And so then my other employee, you know, her mom gets sick. And eventually she lost her mom, sadly to say. And so I was experiencing both of these incidents, right when we first opened, so I had to take on a company on my own at that time, because I didn’t have any other employees, which made me one, one must show. With that said, the hours did change, because now I’m in there for 14 hours. So I cannot do you know, 2, 3, 4 in the morning on my back when I’m getting there, and I’ve already, you know, been working for 12 hours. So that’s one of the reasons why the hours have changed. Typically, our hours are from 4pm to 12am. And so that’s because we have a lot of meetings in the morning, we have to do, you know, food inventory, sometime we sell out on a daily basis. And so we find ourselves having to get more product in there, you know, so we can be prepared to serve the customers. And sometimes it was running into the two o’clock hour, three o’clock hours. So now we’re just like 4pm to 12 seems to work the best for us. And I noticed that some of the sites don’t update as quickly as I would like them to, or they’ll have the correct hours in one part, but then another part will have the old hours. So yeah, I can definitely understand how that gets confusing.

Brent Hanifl 11:50
Well, it’s just new. I mean, it’s great. You know, it’s something that came out of the pandemic, it seems like there’s a lot of home bakers, there’s a lot of starting businesses, it’s really kind of, I think, bringing it back to the day where you exchange eggs for something else in your little neighborhoods. So it’s pretty exciting.

Fleischa Booker 12:05
Yeah.

Brent Hanifl 12:06
So if people want to find out more, what’s the best avenue for them to go to?

Fleischa Booker 12:09
Yeah, I mean, the best avenue that I can say, would be to join us on Facebook, become a part of our SmasshTyme community. There, you will get updates about closing events, just posting of pictures and videos for SmasshTyme, our upcoming chef cult line that we’re working on. And so yeah, you will get basically everything on the Facebook page. Secondly, it will be the call directly, because a lot of people hop in their inbox. And so if I’m at work, and we get busy, I don’t have time to look at the inbox. So a lot of times, I don’t even know when people inbox me because I’m not, you know, looking at the phone every five minutes because I have to do orders and stuff like that. Yeah, I always tell people to call me directly. That would be one of the best ways without confusion to know, you know, what hours are we working? Are we closing early tonight? You know, what’s going on is just to call that number, place your order. Right now we’re only takeout and delivery. We are working on a space of our own because we are in a commercial share kitchen right now. And you know, hopefully that’ll be coming up soon here in the spring, summer months. And so, yeah, you know, we’ve been doing excellent. So far so good.

Amy Gabay 13:37
La Crosse Local Podcast is a production of River Travel Media. Do you have an interview idea you’d like to share with us? Message us on Facebook at La Crosse Local. Find out more about us at lacrosselocal.com and you can subscribe to the La Crosse Local Podcast on your favorite podcast app. If you like us, rate us five stars. We appreciate it.

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About La Crosse Local

La Crosse Local is an arts, food, and entertainment podcast and publication for La Crosse County and its surrounding communities.

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