Brian Flippin made good on two promises to his late father a few years ago.
“Take care of my mom for him. And then put the Flippin name in lights. Make it famous,” he said.
Flippin and his wife Linda have especially made good on that second promise as the proprietors of Flippin Flavors, a massively popular, made-to-order restaurant in Beverly.
However, opening a restaurant was not their original intention. Their enterprise started with a jerk marinade that Linda made. When she developed the marinade recipe, she asked Flippin what he thought about her bottling and selling it.
“And I said, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea. If you’re thinking about getting into Subway (restaurant) and everything like that, then that’s a good idea,” said Flippin, who recalled having that conversation with his wife around midnight.
Flippin Flavors Jerk Marinade is Born
When he woke up the following morning around 7:30, Flippin discovered that his wife had not slept. She spent all night developing a website and setting up an LLC to launch the business.
In 2017, Flippin Flavors jerk marinade was born. The couple started out selling the product out of their car. Their marinade began to gain word-of-mouth popularity. Chefs around town bought from them. Eventually, Sam’s Club, Walmart and Mariano’s approached the couple about selling Flippin Flavors in stores.
However, in those meetings, the Flippins learned they had to set up a brick-and-mortar business for stores to sell their product. They made the marinade at home and in shared kitchens, but they were told they needed to open a physical location to pass inspections.
So, they leased a storefront on 95th Street to produce their marinade. However, the Flippins reached another impasse, this time with city zoning officials over the use of their new storefront.
“The City came out and said, ‘Hey, this is actually zoned to sell food. You guys got to sell food,'” Flippin said.
“We’re like, ‘Wait a minute, we don’t want to sell food. We just want to give them the jerk marinade.'”
But the zoning ordinance required that they comply.
“I look at my wife, and she looks at me like, ‘this is not what we wanted to do,'” said Flippin, recalling that situation.
Opening a Restaurant that ‘Blew Up Overnight’
But, Flippin, who has over ten years experience in sales, marketing, property management, customer service and other industries, employed his business savvy and consulted with his wife on what restaurant they could open up.
“My wife said, ‘We can do sandwiches, and we can do Phillies.'” The new plan was to sell made-to-order sandwiches that would also showcase their jerk marinade.
The Flippin Flavors restaurant opened in April 2020 at the pandemic’s start. Again, word-of-mouth popularity over their tasty steak and chicken Philly sandwiches spread. They also expanded to serve cold sandwiches and salads.
People from around the area started ordering their food. Flippin Flavors soon became an instant sensation. In April, the Chicago Tribune selected Flippin Flavors as the “Best New Restaurant” in Chicago.
“Our restaurant blew up overnight,” said Flippin. “It literally blew up overnight.”
However, Flippin added that he and his wife still have their sights set on locating a manufacturer and mass-producing their jerk marinade to be available in stores.
Along with his promise to his father, another motivation drives him to add more lights to the Flippin name.
“The drive behind everything we do is to build an empire and a legacy for our son and our daughter,” said Flippin. “That is what we do.”
As for being recognized as a Chicago Defender Men of Excellence honoree, Flippin said the recognition humbles him but quickly attributes his success to his wife.
“There is no man of excellence without my wife. There is no Flippin Flavors without my wife,” he said.
“It’s a team. It was a dream of ours, but it’s a team.”