First Posted: 4/4/2014

Many of the most well-known and successful businesses in the corporate world today come from humble beginnings.

Mattel, best known for the Barbie doll, started as a picture frame business in a garage. Apple Inc., which manufactures consumer electronics such as the iMac, iPad and iPhone, also started in a garage, where two penniless friends built their first computer. Wal-Mart, which now owns more than 1,000 stores in 27 countries, started in 1962 with a single small storefront in Arkansas.

Locally, perhaps no one understands better this business model of “start small and grow” than the Kyttle family, of Sweet Valley.

Lonnie and Eli Kyttle own two Dallas businesses: a hair and nail salon and a Mexican restaurant, both of which they started on their own. They are located next door to each other at 63 A and B Gerald Ave.

Starting 14 years ago with a couple tables, the “bare minimum” of supplies needed and a lot of hard work, Salon Nou Veau slowly gained momentum until becoming an established salon with spa services. CK’s Cantina and Grill began about five years ago in a shack with the goal to provide a job for the couple’s son, Cody, who sold a limited selection of ice cream and Mexican food from the window.

The ice cream shack still exists in the parking lot of the two main businesses and just recently re-opened for the season, offering a variety of soft-serve ice cream, milk shakes, sundaes, Mexican treats and more. CK’s, however, is now more than just a shack. The full restaurant and bar offers “authentic Mexican food” made fresh to order off the menu, comprised of family recipes.

And the secret to CK’s success?

“Good customer service,” said Cody Kyttle, “with a decent price range for our customers.”

But, he said the road to success wasn’t a smooth and easy one. The first few months were the hardest, partly because the business opened in December — a slow time of year. Then, when spring arrived, it started to pick up speed.

“You get a little overwhelmed,” he said, “but you just have to get through it.”

Cody’s advice to other business owners and managers starting out is to work hard.

“The business is a reflection of yourself,” he said. “You’re going to have to put in the time to be there. …or else you’re not going to be able to guarantee what’s going out: the quality and the service.”

He said it’s those two aspects, quality and service, along with the restaurant’s family atmosphere, that keep people coming back.

Describing the dinnertime atmosphere at the restaurant, he said it’s “social, with people talking and laid back.” In the summer time, the patio is open with live music and in the winter, a DJ is there once a month.

The atmosphere of the restaurant fits right in with that of the Back Mountain, which Cody described as “family oriented.” He and his family enjoy doing business in the community and supporting other businesses in the area. They also make an effort to stay involved in the community and the business is a member of the Back Mountain Chamber of Commerce, supports various community fundraisers and makes donations to both the Dallas and Lake-Lehman high schools.

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