When it comes to his great-grandmother’s unique banana pudding recipe, Toran Grays has hit gold. The 40-year-old founded the Extraordinary Banana Pudding, turning a profit and serving out some excellent pudding.
Grays told Fox 5 Sandiego, “It’s family, she kind of created it and it’s kind of just been passed on. It’s kind of something I want to keep in the family for years to come.”
He was ready to apply formally and open his business in 2020, but COVID-19 forced him to modify his initial plan to adapt to the circumstances, which ultimately proved favorable.
“Due to COVID, right at the last moment, I had to change everything up with the health department. They were like, if you want to stay open and bring this product to the masses, you have to change it up.”
While working full-time, he started prepackaging the puddings and selling sweets on the weekends. However, before being authorized to open his La Mesa site, he had already saved almost $20,000.
In light of the success of his business, he recently built another location in Long Beach. Each morning, he prepares the pudding by himself, crediting his resilience to his patrons.
“When you come in here and you get the smiles and the customers, it’s everything. I tell customers that all the time. When my days are tough, and I see you guys and you guys come in here and you sample, and you tell me how great the product is, that changes my whole energy for the day,” he expressed.
Some of his customers shared their experiences and opinions about Gray’s business. Herman Bennett, a Serra Mesa resident, said, “Definitely a hidden gem, man. More people need to know about this place. Once you taste it — no disrespect to your moms, but it’s better than your moms.”
Another resident, Andy Xaysittiphone, also said, “It’s really like a taste where anyone in any type of culture, any ethnic group that would go, hey grandma, grandpa, can you make this dessert for me? This is where you got to get that little taste from home, right here.”
The business owner, who took home the 2021 Small Business of the Year award, declared his intention to open a third Temecula location.
He said, “I want to be able to let people try my products in a different area. Hopefully, they love it.”