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Sweet Pickles a sweet find for young entrepreneurs; Jason and Megan Carter see room for growth, but not physically

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Jason Carter is a native of Rome, the son of Jack and Barbara Carter. After graduating from college, he got a job with Johnson Controls in Oklahoma, where he met and married Megan.

Jason is still an engineer and product manager with Johnson, but is able to work remotely from Rome.

“My role changed a little bit, a little more travel, but they were awesome enough to let me stay,” Jason said.

When Megan got to Rome, she took a job with Haack at Sweet Pickles.

“I don’t really know how the rest happened,” Megan said. “We definitely didn’t go into it thinking we ever were going to buy it.”

Haack nurtured the business for nine years before deciding she was ready to retire and spend more time with family, much of whom live outside of Georgia.

“It started out as kind of a little joke,” Jason said. “We said we'd love to take it over and it was this running joke that became a reality.”

Jason said Megan had been with Haack for two and a half years, and it seemed like the right transition to make.

The Carters had already made the decision they were going to be in Rome and wanted to become more active in the community.

“I knew some of the same people that I knew when I was younger,” Jason said.

Megan said in trying to develop a plan for the future, the couple knew they wanted to do something on Broad Street. “We were not thinking a restaurant,” Megan said.

The fact that the business was already well-established checked off a couple of big boxes that helped them make the decision.

The couple has a daughter, Kymby, 8, and the limited hours at Sweet Pickles, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, allow Megan to manage her family and job time pretty effectively. “It allows me to do everything it takes to run this. Everything that is in here I do,” Megan said. “I don’t want to change what Sweet Pickles has been. Penny built it this way and it works.”

If their daughter has after-school activities, with the actual serving hours ending at 3 p.m., Megan is able to stop what she is doing and take her to ballet or soccer.

“I have a lot of freedom to work things around the family, but it’s still very long hours just for the four hours that we’re here,” Megan said.

They decided to open on Saturdays shortly after purchasing the restaurant, and that’s worked out pretty well thus far.

“We’re trying to put our spin on it,” Jason said.

Megan said the clientele is changing slowly. Attorneys downtown, young professionals, bankers and other downtown business employees are the typical customer. “Our hours limit that,” Megan said.

The Carters have not changed the menu, but are adding weekly specials to try out some new ideas to see if they want to add them to the permanent menu.

“The soup is different every week,” Megan said.

Jason said the business should have its own website within the next couple of weeks.

“It’s typically quiet. I don’t have music blaring so you’re not sitting here trying to yell over people,” Megan said. Seating is limited, inside and out on the sidewalk, but Jason said that caters to the restaurant being able to serve customers quickly and get them back to their jobs or other business.

“We have really good salads; a lot of people love to get a scoop of chicken salad,” Megan said. And yes, sweet pickles are back on the menu daily.

Over the course of the next five years, Jason said he thinks Sweet Pickles can double its business. “There is only so much I can do from 11 to 3 in here,” Megan said. Even with no options to expand, “We really don’t want to move, because people love this because of where it is.”

Megan wants to grow their boxed lunch business, a sandwich, fruit, chips or cookies. She’s able to accommodate orders of maybe a dozen boxes with just two or three days notice.

Sweet Pickles has hosted some small after hours private parties and has catered a couple of retreats. In addition to the box lunches, Megan said she is able to put together sandwich and food trays that customers can come in and pick up.

Beyond growing the business, both Jason and Megan said they want to become part of the downtown family. “Everybody helps each other out, and we want to find more ways we can, too,” Megan said.