Delco Profile: Just Call Them Chef Floyd and Chef Angie at Plum Restaurant Group

A romance that started back in their high school days eventually turned into a perfect pairing, not just as a couple, but as a couple of chefs with quite a few culinary adventures. Chef Floyd and Chef Angie Kahlil own the Plum Restaurant Group, which includes Plum Bistro & Catering, The Tattooed Pig and The Sugar Plum in Aston, The Plum Pit Food Truck that can be found roaming throughout the area and, for our Delaware (the state!) friends, The Chicken Spot in Wilmington.

How do a pair of chefs manage all that? Together, they tell us. Read on!

Visit Delco, Pa: How did you two meet?

Chef Angie and Chef Floyd: We met in high school, W. B. Saul High School, an agricultural school in Philly we call “The Farm School.” We dated a little in high school, then went our separate ways for a while. Floyd went into the Army, and Angie went to Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. We reconnected several years after high school, when Angie was a chef de cuisine at a French restaurant in Philadelphia and Floyd was working a a mechanic. The rest is history, including Floyd following his love for all things food. He was a trained diesel mechanic, and continued in that line after he left the service, but he always felt there was something missing.

Currently Chichester residents, we both are from Philadelphia and relocated to Delco when Angie was pregnant with our first child. We have four kids, including a set of twins. Three children are from Floyd’s previous marriage, and Floyd says he loves how Angie has treated them as her own from day one.

When did you realize you both loved to cook?

In high school, we didn’t know that we shared the same passion for cooking. Floyd started his entry into the culinary world at age 6 frying his first hot dog — and he was hooked on cooking! Angie took a different route, watching cooking shows on Philly’s WHYY with her mother. Every Saturday they’d watch, then Angie would pretend to have her own cooking show and her mother would eat what she made; a true supporter since day one.

How did you end up with all these restaurants — and a food truck?

Angie started her professional journey at Johnson and Wales and then left to learn hands on — in the kitchen through the school of hard knocks. Floyd was initially reluctant to pursue his dream as a career, but his parents invited him and Angie to sell food at church events. We believe that the best way to learn is through experience. In 2007 we took the leap into our own business. It started off as Bubba and Angie’s Catering, but neither one really loved the name. Oddly, purple turned out to be our favorite color, so we started thinking about purple foods … and, there aren’t a lot. We settled on “plum” and the rest is history! 

At that point, Floyd had never worked in a restaurant, so to keep up with Angie he attended The Art Institute in Philadelphia. It taught him the basics, such as proper knife skills and terminology. Then he hit upon baking and was hooked. He graduated in 2010 with a degree in baking and pastry.

A fun fact: Angie has always been a natural caregiver. During our culinary journey she gravitated toward nursing and earned her LPN. She worked as an LPN in the early days, as we were building the business.

OK — try and keep up! In 2012, Floyd tore his Achilles tendon and was out of work for almost a year. During that time we cashed in his 401(k) to buy our first food truck, a fixer-upper we found on Craig’s List. Thanks to a little help from some friends, it launched in 2014; the second hit the road in 2016. In 2017 we opened Plum Bistro & Catering. In 2018 we rolled out a third food truck. In 2019 we jumped into another truck for The Sugar Plum (desserts!). In 2020, amid the pandemic, we managed to open the Wilmington, Del. restaurant. And by the way, we built out all our food trucks ourselves.

Drum roll, please! The tally is one catering company,  two restaurants and four food trucks. We honestly don’t know how we do it all — aside from a lot of hard work. In summer 2017 Floyd recalls working 120+ hours each week with no days off. But that’s no surprise from two people with solid work ethics; we see it as the sacrifices that have to be made when you want to expand your business. Just as impressive? We’ve done it all without any loans. We also give big props to our solid team of managers and staff that help us make all of this possible. 

Why the prevailing Tex-Mex vibe?

We love Aston, and all the pizza and hoagie joints. So, we thought the area could use something new when we opened Plum Bistro & Catering. We pretty much took the food truck menu and added burgers and paninis — and, that didn’t go well for two reasons. First, the name was confusing menu-wise, and secondly, people didn’t realize it was dine-in because it sounded like a catering company. Although we liked experimenting with different cuisines — we’re creative chefs! — after a year we decided to commit to a specific cuisine and rebranding. We did a little research and, at the time, Aston didn’t have a Mexican restaurant. So we decided to do some Tex-Mex fusion to satisfy the palettes of those who had families where some might want Mexican and others might want something more familiar. That’s when we transitioned our menu and The Tattooed Pig was born!

The pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard. How are you doing?

We lost a lot of business during the pandemic since weddings and events were postponed or canceled; a big portion of our business relies on catering and food trucking. The Tattooed Pig picked up some when the big restaurants shut down. At times it was overwhelming, especially because there were shortages from our food suppliers. We had to adapt and look for opportunities; we started offering Chinese, for example, because so many of those restaurants were closed.  It put a big strain on us and our staff. Our other restaurant is in downtown Wilmington and heavily relies on the big office buildings. We opened that in February 2020 right before all the shutdowns, so we’re struggling with that particular location. But we know how to work hard, and we persevere.

Are you seeing growing support for businesses owned by people of color?

It’s a mixed bag. Some come and support us first because we’re a black-owned business, and then they continue to support us because they truly like what we offer. On the other hand, we’ve literally seen people’s demeanor change in mid conversation when Floyd has mentioned that he’s one of the owners. It’s why we go by Chef Floyd and Chef Angie and leave the last name to business cards only. It’s sad, but as business people we’re looking for the best way to approach things. We believe our food is our best calling card.

We’ve experienced both the beautiful and the ugly, but we choose to focus on the beauty and ignore the ugly. In summer 2020, when racial tensions were high, we had customers report being harassed outside the restaurant. Then a local supporter decided to have a car show at The Tattooed Pig to create unity. We believe the good will outweigh any negatives and choose to believe that there are many more good people out there. We see them every day at the Plum Restaurant Group’s many locations. And for that, we’re thankful.

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Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for Delco From Home Experiences and where to get takeout and support local businesses in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered during the coronavirus crisis (and beyond). Contact us at (610) 565-3679, by email or online.

Nina Malone

All photos courtesy of Plum Restaurant Group