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Find Something New! Pop-Ups at Mesh

Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Find Something New is a Pop-up Event featuring the products of local artisans and entrepreneurs- makers, designers and developers alike.  

Mesh is located at 242 Linden Street in the heart of Old Town Fort Collins. We provide pop-up vendors with electricity,  water and restroom facilities. We require our vendors to provide their own tables and equipment. Times are subject to change but typically our pop-up's run from 12:00pm-9:00pm on Friday & 10:00am-4:00pm on Saturday. Mesh charges a booth rental fee per day based on the amount of sq. footage each vendor uses as well as a percentage of sales.

Upcoming Dates:

  • April 7th & 8th
  • May 5th & 6th
  • June 2nd & 3rd
If you are a vendor interested in participating, click here to apply!


Small Business After Hours - Food Trends

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Food Trends

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
4:00 - 6:00 pm
Innosphere
320 E. Vine Drive
Fort Collins, CO 80524 (Map It!)
You’ve probably tried “savory” yogurts by Chobani and Larimer County’s own Noosa Yogurt, but have you tried algae? Do you know what Poke is? How about Baobab? Hear about new ethnic flavors that trend-setting restaurants are promoting.

Get the latest info on gluten-free, non-GMO, and organic food trends, including the demand for better nutritional transparency and labeling, not just at home but in restaurants and commercial institutions as well. What does a “clear label” mean? What is the impact on the business owner from these customer expectations?

More and more customers are seeking better nutrition, and better nutritional information. What expectations does this create for the food business? How should the business operator respond?


Our Panelists

 
Ashley Colpaart - The Food Corridor 


Ashley is the Founder and CEO of The Food Corridor, a virtual food hub that provides real-time search and discovery, online booking, financial transactions, specificity and fit, and user verification to enable food businesses access to commercial kitchen spaces they need.

The Food Corridor is the first food technology start-up aiming to regionalize food systems through reducing redundancy, increasing efficiencies, and providing a seamless user interface for any user seeking out commercial kitchens, commissaries, processing, co-packing and food storage spaces. At the same time, we allow institutions and businesses to more effectively utilize their assets, providing additional revenue streams to commissaries, schools, food banks, churches, restaurants and more.

 
Betsy Craig - MenuTrinfo


Betsy Craig an Award Wining, expert in the food service industry on menu labeling and trends with a passion for those with special dietary needs. She is the CEO and the Founder of MenuTrinfo®, LLC and AllerTrain by MenuTrinfo, LLC, a leading company providing accredited nutrition & food allergy solutions. Her expertise extends to food safety, managing food allergens in the food service space and Gluten-free solutions thanks to AllerTrain. The nations only ANSI accredited training for food service for food allergies. Betsy writes for many national publications and a much sought after speaker in the hospitality industry.

 
 Tina Mooney - The Fox & The Crow


In November 2014, Tina opened The Fox & the Crow, an artisan cheese and meat shop in mditown Fort Collins. She is a certified cheesemonger with an educational background in art history, which means eh really loves the stories behind the cheeses she sells. While her shop takes cheese seriously, they bring a levity to the intimidating nature of artisan cheese. Her employees are all well versed in cheese, and are happy to explain what makes each one special and offer recipes and pairing suggestions. T o make it to her grand opening, she worked closely with the SBDC while developing her plan, and has now expanded her shop offerings to include catering.



Restaurant & Food Products - Competitive Advantage

Monday, February 15, 2016

Restaurant & Food Industry - "Competitive Advantage"

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Panel Event


A quick search of Larimer County restaurants yields nearly 2,000 results, not including food products. With so many food based businesses, how do you set yourself apart? For our March “Small Business After Hours Event,” we’re bringing together a panel of experts to discuss Competitive Advantage in the food industry. Some of the points we’ll be discussing are:

How do you position your business versus your main competitors?
How do you present your business to new potential customers?
How do you evaluate new products/services to better position your business?
What’s worked/what hasn’t from businesses who have been there?
How do you strategically price your offerings?

Join us for this great event and take advantage of the opportunity to learn and network with potential partners for your business. We’ve all got to eat, learn why we should eat what you’re selling!

Our panelists for this event will be:


Jennifer Lopez is the owner of Swallowtail Foods, LLC, in Fort Collins, which manufactures a line of instant chai latte mixes called Pi Chai. Pi Chai made its debut in 2014, and is sold at local stores & coffeeshops in Colorado. Jennifer has 25+ years of experience in the food & beverage industry.
 

Owner of Loveland's Generations Wine & Martini Bar, Erin Borsdorf came to Larimer county in 2006, operating/managing several restaurants including Cafe Vino, Vincent, Woody's Wood Fired Pizza, and Basil Flats (Longmont) among others before working at Loveland's Pourhouse Bar and Grill for two years. During this time she developed a business plan to open present day Generations. She has a background in secondary education, has worked as a political strategist in IL, and holds degrees in theatrical design, social sciences, and communication, as well as licensing as a secondary educator and real estate agent.

Ken King has operated, rescued, designed and built over 100 independent restaurants in his 40-year food service career. He has owned a successful steakhouse, family restaurant, hot dog stand, prime rib house, and European bistro.Ken is an expert at improving business performance, creating new brands, identifying opportunities, and working with clients on specific operational and development challenges. He is available to SBDC clients for troubleshooting, business evaluation, and specialized assistance.
Patrick O'Neill is a Colorado native, born to an entrepreneurial family. Patrick served 6 years in the Marine Corps as an intelligence analyst. He graduated from CU Boulder in 1991 with a degree in political science. Patrick then managed his family’s industrial painting business and later entered a career in law enforcement. In 2012 he and his wife, Stefanie, bought Vern’s Toffee House from her family and continue to nurture its growth.

Thank you to our event sponsor:












Larimer SBDC Success Story - We're a Little Bit Cheesy

Friday, November 20, 2015
Story: Kat Rico
Photography: LifeStorm Photography

What do cheese and art have in common? Both excite the pallet and have rich stories, according to The Fox and the Crow owner Tina Mooney, a cheesemonger and art history major.

The Fox and the Crow brings artisan cheeses and meats to mid-town Fort Collins. They understand that the world of artisan cheese can be intimidating and have crafted their shop to welcome people who may stumble in serendipitously. Little signs like: “We cut the cheese,” and “Please refrain from tapping on the glass. It scares the meats,” let customers know that while they take cheese seriously, it’s fun too. They regularly host wine and beer pairing classes, to bring knowledge, fun and taste together.

When asked about her passion, Tina said, “Cheeses really speak to me because they all have stories, especially artisan products.” If you point to any of the products in their cases (without tapping on the glass, of course), staff will give you a breakdown of where it came from, how it was made and how it will taste, before offering you a sample. “I give all of my new employees a cheese textbook. They do everything from cooking to serving to retailing, so I want them to be personable, knowledgeable and sincerely love cheese.”

As a first time entrepreneur, Tina began developing her business idea at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). “I looked online for business classes, and the local chamber referred me to the SBDC. I kept getting the last open spot in all the trainings I sought, so the timing lined up perfectly. It must have been fate!” Through the SBDC, she worked with several consultants, took business courses, and learned how to listen to customers. SBDC consultants helped her with projecting financials, marketing, connections for financing, and setting up a commercial kitchen. She went to San Francisco for cheese school, to learn how cheeses are made, as well as how to properly cut and package cheese. Tina made it from idea to open in eleven months, officially opening in November 2014.

“The biggest surprise has been catering. At first, we didn’t really know how to do it. Now we do events and platters, that I like to bring an artistic touch to,” says Tina. The shop also has a devoted fan base of customers ranging from age 18 to 95, another surprise that has allowed the business to establish lasting relationships. “Last year for Easter, I made these seven pound monster meat pies. They pre-sold, so I didn’t even save one for my family. One of our customers heard, and they made us one and brought it to the shop. That’s the kind customers we have. It’s really like that!”

Looking to the future, they are excited to be, “Drowning in cheese money.” This will allow Tina to provide her employees long term benefits. As much as Tina loves cheese, she looks forward to the day when she can step back and let the cheese wheels turn on their own.


For more information about the Fox and the Crow, 
check out their website!


Hiring, Connecting With, and Keeping Employees

Thursday, October 22, 2015

On October 20th, the Larimer SBDC held our second Small Business After Hours event targeted at the restaurant and food product industry. We pulled together a great panel covering a variety of restaurants and a food manufacturer to specifically address workforce issues faced in these industries.

       
Carolyn Reed
Silver Mine Subs Franchises
Ryan Houdek
The Melting Pot,
Rodizio Grill, Social
Mark Havens
Cafe Vino
Josh Skow
Canyon Bakehouse

Restaurants and food product companies face unique issues when it comes to workforce. Some restaurants, like the Silver Mine Subs franchises owned by Carolyn Reed, are looking for entry level employees. Others like The Melting Pot, Social, and Rodizio Grill owned by Ryan Houdek, or Café Vino which is managed by Mark Havens, are looking for experienced restaurant staff who match the culture of their establishments. For food product manufacturers like Canyon Bakehouse, CEO Josh Skow says finding someone whose character traits align with the company goals is most important. Regardless, they all face the same larger problems of hiring the right person that fits with their company values, overcoming generational issues, and employee retention. 

Hiring Processes

Harness Technology – Using a digital application process helps Carolyn efficiently sort through applicants. She sets the metrics on the program to give weight to people with prior restaurant experience.Interview Best Practices – Sometimes it’s easier to find out if they’re not a right fit. Ryan asks disqualifying questions during the interview; if a candidate is expecting to always make $300 per shift, they’re probably not a good fit for his restaurant.Company Culture as a Hiring Tool – All of our panelists agreed that they are looking for candidates that fit their company values and culture. If there is a mismatch in the beginning, it is likely to cause a variety of problems later.

Generational Issues

Millennials Are… Different – Between a difference in learning styles, work ethic and a need to like their boss, millennial present a new set of challenges for business owners with generationally diverse workforces.Communicating with Millennials is… Different – According to Carolyn, you need to set your expectations for millennial workers upfront and in a clear manner. When communicating and coaching them, you have to decide if you will take a less direct tone or if the employee is worth the time it may take to get them trained.
An Intergenerational Approach is…. Different – The need to like their boss presents a unique opportunity for millennials in intergenerational workforces. “We are the missing element in learning a work ethic,” says Ryan. At the Canyon Bakehouse, they have a shift that is managed by a baby boomer with mostly millennial workers. Giving the team well-communicated shared goals helps them work as a team.

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Employee Retention

Compensation is More than a Paycheck – Providing benefits like health insurance add to the value an employee gets from their paycheck. Café Vino also has a profit sharing program. Mark says this gives him an extra 35 bosses telling him how he can do it better, and it also helps employees feel vested and take ownership of the business.Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly – Normalize feedback and coaching processes and address issues quickly and casually. From the manager standpoint, always document even verbal warnings, and don’t be afraid of using write-ups as a second step. The kindest thing you can do for your employees is let them know what the issue is and how to correct it quickly and professionally.
Honor Employees on a Regular Basis – Say goodbye and thank you to employees every evening, keep gift cards for when you catch employees doing something right, celebrate employee milestones on a regular basis. Hire the right management, because they will properly train your employees and provide them the right encouragement.
Of course it is difficult to capture a panel discussion like this in a few hundred words, but we want to make sure to share these insights with you. Are you in this industry? We’re planning for 2016 right now, so send your feedback on possible topics to kat@larimersbdc.org!

We will be continuing with our Small Business After Hours series with a Health & Wellness Businesses “Funnel Vision” workshop coming up on November 10, 2015.

Restaurant & Food Industry Workforce Issues Panel

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Restaurant & Food Industry Workforce Issues Panel

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

No matter what business you’re in, attracting and retaining top talent is always an issue. How do you retain and reward good employees? How do you successfully recruit qualified employees? What workforce issues are you dealing with now? What works? What doesn’t?

Just for our restaurant and food businesses, we’ve assembled a great panel of professionals to address these workforce issues. Come prepared with your questions and get answers from people who have been there and done that!

Our Panelists:

  Ryan Houdek moved to Fort Collins in 1995 to work as a Computer Engineer for Hewlett-Packard Company. In 2004, Ryan decided to change careers and open The Melting Pot restaurant in Old Town. Then, in 2008, he opened Rodizio Grill in the historic train station. Later, in 2013, he opened Social with his business partner Ty Fulcher. Ryan currently lives in Rist Canyon with his wife Christine and dog Frodo.

 

  Carolyn Reed is president at Silver Bloom, LLC, a restaurant management company, since October 2012. She has experience with multi-unity restaurant management with an emphasis on restaurant design and construction management. As a restaurant franchisee of several Silver Mine Subs locations stretching from Cheyenne to Denver, her knowledge spans all aspects of restaurant management and operations.

 
  Josh Skow is the co-Founder and CEO of Canyon Bakehouse, a dedicated gluten free bakery located in Loveland, CO. The business was started in 2009 after seeing a need in the market for quality gluten free breads that were nutritious and tasted good. Canyon Bakehouse branded products are now sold in over 10,000 stores across the United States and Canada. Josh is a graduate of Kansas State University. In addition to owning and operating several businesses, he has held operations and sales positions with several major US and International food ingredient companies. Josh and his family reside in Colorado.

 
   Mark Havens is a Fort Collins Native, and after traveling the US in different capacities in the service industry returned home in 2009. Hired as the general manager he reinvented Café Vino taking a staff of 16 to 60 in a few short years. His passion for Café Vino is seen in the staff’s morale, his innovative ideas and providing an exceptional experience for his guests every night of the week. Mark is one of the hardest workers in Fort Collins, if you don’t see him at the door, he might be serving your dinner, making your drink, working as our handyman or possibly washing dishes in the kitchen.

 






Top 3 Restaurant/Food Industry Issues

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
by Kat Rico

Photo credit: Erin Bibeau
Larimer County is a fantastic place for both restaurants and food product businesses. We sure do love some local flavor! Many businesses in this industry face three problems frequently, and if you’re planning to go into business in this area, you need to have a plan. According to our consultants who specialize in food products, here are three common issues you need to be ready to address as a business owner:
1. Cost control – This is absolutely the most important thing you can do to contribute to your business’s success. Wasted or spoiled food is literally throwing money in the trash, so being aware of this issue is incredibly important. Ask yourself:  - How do we control food portions?  - What are our best practices for managing inventory? - What can we do to minimize spoilage?  - Do we have the right partnerships with suppliers to get what we need, when we need it? 
Having trouble with cost control? On April 29, 2015, the Larimer SBDC is hosting a special panel and networking event entitled, “Controlling Your Costs in the Restaurant/Food Industry”, where we are bringing together four restaurant and food industry experts to share their knowledge with you. You’ll also have the opportunity to network and create potential partnerships with other business owners at this free event. To pre-register for this free event and for more information on our panelists, click here.
2. Creating a competitive advantage – Annual sales for Larimer County’s restaurant/food industry exceed $1 billion, so as you can imagine, standing out from the crowd is a challenge. Think critically about what you can do better than your competitors, the unique value your product provides and how to best position yourself for success. Some key questions to ask are:  - What ambiance does my product/restaurant convey?  - Does my product meet specific dietary/environmental concerns? If it doesn't, can it?  - Who wants to buy my product and where will they want to buy it?  3. Employee development and retention – It’s not just enough to get top talent, you have to keep it. Constantly retraining new staff is costly, both in money and time, and can negatively affect the moral of your staff and customer experience. Some quick tips for increasing employee retention:  - As much as your ambiance needs to entice customers, that same attitude can help you keep hold of your best and brightest employees.   - Have a training program ready to roll out at a moment’s notice, so that when you do have to replace someone you can get your new employee up and running quickly. - Keep a wary eye on staffing. Too many employees standing around will make them bored and cost you money. On the other hand constantly understaffing contributes to stressed employees and a poor customer experience. - Your company may be small and there may not be much room for advancement, but giving your employees a chance to learn new skills will give them a reason to stay along with adding value to your business. Watch for trainings from community organizations and local colleges like the Larimer County Workforce Center and Front Range Community College.
If you’re having trouble narrowing your vision and creating your plan, the Larimer SBDC is here to help with free, confidential one-on-one consulting with experts who have been there, done that.