Natasha Nunley: FSU Alumna and Managing Partner of Tin Lizzy's Cantina

Natasha Nunley is the general manager of your new favorite Flex-Mex spot, Tin Lizzy’s Cantina. She graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Political Science but ended up taking a slightly different route with her career. Nunley took an internship straight out of college and decided law school wasn’t the path for her. After watching an episode of Pimp My Ride on MTV, Nunley was inspired. She convinced her parents to co-sign on a food truck for her and started her own business, Nole Patrol, right here on FSU’s campus!

Courtesy: Natasha Nunley

“I put my degree in the window just to say, 'Ya know, I went to college! I chose this life,'" says Nunley. FSU was kind enough to let her open her one food trucks on campus, but Nunley wanted to buy more food trucks and grow her business. She wanted a challenge! The beloved and very successful Mom and Pop’s food trucks had the most locations on campus and Nunley was unable to expand Nole Patrol. She took a long break in Atlanta after graduating. She worked as an International Training Team Member for Hooters and as a mixologist for Coyote Ugly Saloon. Her manager at the time asked if she wanted to open a bar in the airport and she was ready to make that next step!

Courtesy: Facebook

Nunley packed her things, sold her food truck, and moved on up to ATL. In years to come, the vice president of franchising for Hooters would take on the role as the CEO of Tin Lizzy’s Cantina. The three original guys who started Tin Lizzy’s Cantina all met at FSU and she was recruited to work as the area director in the greater Atlanta area. In time, the Tallahassee natives thought they should bring it all back to where they started. They had looked for locations in Tally for a while, but nothing ever felt right. That was until space opened up in College Town and it was exactly where Tin Lizzy’s needed to be.

Her Campus (HC): You opened businesses prior to Tin Lizzy’s. What do you think those experiences taught you?

Natasha Nunley (NN): Guest service, guest service, guest service. Service is key to everything in the hospitality industry. "Friends serving friends" is our slogan and we incorporate that into how we run our business. Treating our customers like family is part of our culture.

Courtesy: Nicole Knight

HC: What lessons have you learned?

NN: You have to be a hard worker; this is no joke. There is a lot of turnover in Tallahassee, so you have to show up and put the time in. It will pay off.

HC: You’re a woman in a male-dominated industry. What hurdles do you think you’ve had to overcome?

NN: There’s still this stigma that women can’t run businesses because they’re too emotional, but I think we can use that emotion to our advantage. I’ve seen that men get promoted on potential alone and women get promoted once they’ve proven themselves. I do definitely think it’s a male-dominated industry, but the company I work for sees the performance, not gender.

HC: What is your marketing philosophy?

NN: I think that’s my Achilles heel. I’m a strong operator, but our marketing is handled by our brand manager in Atlanta who also used to be a bartender for the company and is a strong woman who was promoted from within. We need local help for the sake of name recognition around the community. There was actually a marketing launch today, it was a mailer offering 10 dollars off of any 25-dollar purchase and it was sent out to the north side of town. The first six months, we conserve our marketing allowance and it allows for more of a comp allowance. Word of mouth really works when we’re able to buy drinks or meals every now and then to go the extra mile with customer service. It validates the "Friends Serving Friends" slogan.