As a young boy growing up in Murfreesboro some 30 years ago, Ricky Turner knew he wanted better for himself and his future family.
Cedar Bucket Restaurant owner Ricky Turner tries to be a role model to the youth in the African American community by setting a good example of a business owner. (Photo by M. Hudgins)
“We always had a few minority-owned businesses – both men and women,” he said.
His grandmother lived on Hancock Street, where nearby Glanton’s was a frequent stop for Turner.
“That’s why I always wear an apron; it’s in honor of Mr. Glanton,” he said.
Turner also recalled Kleer-Vu, Drew’s Construction Company and Scales & Sons Funeral Home.
The 1986 Oakland High School graduate went on to serve in the military before attending MTSU. Diploma in hand, he made plans to work for a large corporation and then, later, become an entrepreneur.
Life had different plans in store for him – plans that included becoming a small business owner first.
“When it came to opening a restaurant, I never thought of myself as a cook,” Turner remembered.
He knew a couple of cooks and caterers who needed a storefront, and the owner of The Cedar Bucket in Shelbyville was looking to sell his restaurant.
“So I bought it and let these guys come in and cook for me, and I’d be the owner,” Turner continued. “I’ve been in business five years, and I’ve learned a lot about this business. I’m still not cooking yet, but my (role) is putting people in the right place.”
He opened The Cedar Bucket in Shelbyville in 2007, then relocated the business to Middle Tennessee Boulevard in Murfreesboro in 2009.
Turner found a new home for The Cedar Bucket Cafeteria and Catering in 2010, when he moved it to the Food Lion shopping center at the corner of Northfield Boulevard and Lascassas Pike.
Dubbed “Southern Cooking at Its Best,” The Cedar Bucket aims to provide local residents a waning tradition of homestyle and country meals.
“There’s not a lot of people in the kitchen any more, they don’t have grandmama in the kitchen and people don’t have the desire to stay in the kitchen and cook from scratch,” he said.
“I see a need for every side of the county to have a Cedar Bucket, but my problem is finding someone to cook,” Turner said. “I can own it, and I can run it, but you’ve got to have the cooking in place.”
As the front man for The Cedar Bucket, Turner says his main goal is to serve as a leader for younger men and women.
“I’m trying to lead the next generation, that’s why I dress the way I do and carry myself the way I do and why I’m always involved in the community,” said Turner, who is never without a suit and tie. “Hopefully I can inspire somebody or be an influence to somebody who wants to give this a try.”
He is frequently asked to speak at events about his experience as a small business owner and his advice on how to succeed as such.
“With owning a business, there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t know,” Turner continues. “For me, it was about trial and error. I had to figure out a lot on my own … I’m not in competition with anybody; I’m just focused on being the best Cedar Bucket (the restaurant) can be.”
The natural-born leader has opted to run for a seat on Murfreesboro’s City Council.
“Politics has always been in my blood. I’ve always been some kind of leader, and my peers have always looked to me to lead them in a direction,” he said.
“I just have so much concern for the citizens of Murfreesboro. I give back a lot, I do a lot, and I need to take it up to the next level. The next role I could be in is in government.”
Turner aims to improve the rights of small business owners and give his peers a voice.
“Small businesses can generate as much business as large companies if they’re on the same playing field,” he said.