Rachel and Randy Fox | The Foxes Boxes
Five Minutes with Rachel and Randy Fox | The Foxes Boxes:
“We chatted with Rachel while Randy did his thing in the kitchen, and daughter Isabel (on spring break) wandered in: this hip new restaurant exudes a friendly vibe, and makes you feel like you just became family.“
The Foxes motto: “Think Outside, Eat Inside”
The menu was actually inspired by the things that our kids ate growing up. This is the food that we made at home – none of us like mushrooms, [laughing] so there are no mushrooms on the menu. I pretty much raised the kids vegetarian, until they could make their own decisions. Like the peanut butter and fresh strawberry rolls – I used to make that when the kids where little for road trips, but I used fruit spread. Randy took the basic concept, keeping it real, and simple, but with a little extra. He took all the basic ideas for the menu, and ramped them all up a little. The protein specials, like the Korean barbeque, that’s all Randy. Everything is made from scratch. He’s having so much fun with the menu.
This kitchen and this restaurant is the right amount of space and challenge. We really want to put effort into mentoring. Randy mentored so many young people when he worked corporate. Those relationships are really important to us. He started when he was 17 or 18, working in food service, and the industry was good to him, and our family, that industry is really a conduit to a better life. But you have to learn how to communicate and understand the work culture, you can make it.
Germinating the Boxes Concept
I have always been so passionate about the issues that impact people around the world – I used to work on the advisory board with the One Campaign, helping them understand what moms can do on the ground, and how mom bloggers can leverage their influence to motivate followers – this was 2011, and that’s how I ended up back in grad school at UNCW for Public Administration. I was serving on all these boards, and I was working all these odd jobs, and I had been home with kids for 14 years. I was watching everyone graduate with their Masters, and not getting jobs.
Randy had a 20-plus-year career in corporate restaurants, and we had always talked about all these quirky ideas, and had all these different things we though about doing, and one day our youngest son said, “We should do a restaurant called The Foxes Boxes.”
And we started really thinking about it, and how to combine a restaurant with doing positive work in the community. I’ve always been so excited about Wilmington’s northside, and the possibilities created by investment and new opportunities. I was watching the area gentrify – which is great, and I’m not opposed to development – but I kept asking Randy, why can’t we create a space that’s welcoming to the whole neighborhood, the families who have lived here for a long time, and the new families moving in. To be inviting. The business plan spun from there. In school I was taking all these courses in strategic planning, and resource development, and I kept working on projects and writing papers that would help us develop something that could become a business. And then Randy’s creative side came out – he has been doing this so long. Those two became The Foxes Boxes.
We’ve known each other since we were eleven! We wonder what people see when they watch us in the kitchen. He used to cook for his team when he was working on the corporate side, and he’s just got a knack for it. He would throw things together and everyone would love it. I don’t cook. This is the hardest thing we’ve ever done together, and it’s been really good for us. We always said, “If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you do, and why aren’t you doing it?” We always taught our kids that. Do it. Take the risk. We didn’t come from families that took risks like that, but it was something that we always wanted to embrace. It is the hardest thing we could have done, it really is. Figuring it all out, keep it going, and keeping everyone happy.
The other day I asked Randy, “Would you rather be crazy like we were today, in here, or working in someone else’s restaurant, and he said, ‘of course, this.'” I know that’s true; we both can see the long-term. We’re learning how to communicate in a new way, and working toward the vision we have for Foxes Boxes: where we have a couple other people in the kitchen, and I’m out building community and doing the other things that we have planned for this business. We never knew it was going to be this big. We have to get through the growing pains of a new business, and keep making those milestones, one year, two years.
We want to use this space to work with community groups that are making a difference in the neighborhood. Hosting nonprofit events and lending the space to initiatives that help people. We want to create a space that has an economically and culturally diverse client base. That is why Randy and I work well together. He always says that we have to be a good restaurant, that stands alone as a restaurant, for people to come back. People will come here because they support the mission, and they believe in it, but a lot of people aren’t even going to know what your cause is, and they’re going to come in the door because the food is good. I have a lot of wild ideas, and things I want to do. I really love all the possibilities of combining the restaurant with outreach and community action.
I’m happy. We’re all happy, we love coming in here to work. The kids come in and they love it too. We love being part of this neighborhood.
About the photo: Rachel (left) and Randy, with daughter Isabel
Grab a bite that’s “outside the box” at
The Foxes Boxes
in Wilmington’s Brooklyn Arts District