Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Two new Iowa County, WI food businesses in the news

This was a great weekend for two new Iowa County, Wisconsin food businesses.

First up... Acala Farms in Barneveld.   Our friends Sarah and Peter Botham recently launched a new venture, Acala Farms, to introduce beautiful, flavor-infused cooking oils made from cottonseed.  Stop at Botham Vineyards and Winery in Barneveld, WI for a tasting.
Quoting a story this weekend in the Wisconsin State Journal: 

Botham Vineyards banks on cottonseed cooking oil  (linked below)

"The oils can be drizzled on pasta, vegetables, popcorn and salads. They also can be used as dipping oils in the same fashion as olive oil. 'It adds flavor to everything you can think of. It's a great dipping oil. All of the flavors are wonderful for dipping with bread,' Sarah Botham said."

"It has superior cooking qualities, (UW-Madison animal science professor)  Cook said."

Sarah Botham certainly won't disagree.

"These oils," she said with a smile, "are something special."


Next up....Kusaka Restaurant in Mineral Point.  

Hiroko and Chris wonderful food entrepreneurs and really delightful people. 

From Japan to Mineral Point: Kusaka is an unexpected rural find.  (linked below)

"Hiroko and Chris met in Sendai City, Japan, where Chris was teaching English and Hiroko was a cook in a hospital. She's a professionally trained chef, and together they opened a coffee shop... Then in 2011 came the tsunami — and the subsequent nuclear fallout."

"Chris' mother lives in Dodgeville, and the two decamped to Wisconsin and moved in with her. Shortly after, they got an offer to take over a vacant space in Mineral Point, and Kusaka was born in July of this year."

"To put things into perspective, you should know that all the ramen noodles in New York City come from just three factories."

"Hiroko and Chris Messer are making their own handmade ramen noodles at their restaurant, Kusaka, in Mineral Point. And they're not using a pasta machine, as is conventional for the DIY crowd. This is hand-kneaded, hand-rolled and hand-cut."

"For now, the very gregarious and efficient Chris is host, waiter and kitchen helper, while Hiroko is chef. The couple have begun to hire some help, and as word spreads, they're going to need it."

Congratulations to our Iowa County food entrepreneurs!

Botham Vineyards banks on cottonseed cooking oil Wisconsin State Journal. Oct. 28, 2012.  Written by by Rob Schultz.

    Acala Farms    &   Botham Vineyards

From Japan to Mineral Point: Kusaka is an unexpected rural find.   Isthmus.  Oct. 25, 2012.  Written by Andre Darlington.

   Kusaka Japanese Restaurant 

Visit Iowa County Wisconsin   Lodging, restaurants.  Culture, arts.  Artisan food and farms.   Iowa County Area Economic Development, where I work.



Friday, October 26, 2012

Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches

I work in economic development with a focus on regional foods.

However, I'm not really a food guy.  My lifelong favorite food is peanut butter.  Not exactly a foodie thing, but there it is.

I thought I had tried every combination of peanut butter and (everything) sandwiches.

Then a friend sent me the New York Times food article:  Peanut Butter Takes On an Unlikely Best Friend.

Yep.  Peanut butter and pickle sandwiches.

"LIKE Krazy and Ignatz, Carville and Matalin, Cupid and Psyche or Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, the peanut butter and pickle sandwich is one of those unlikely pairings that shouldn’t work, but does."

I laughed then I made one.  Then I made two.  After the third, I'm hooked.

Peanut Butter Takes On an Unlikely Best Friend.  NY Times.  By Dwight Garner.  Published Oct. 22, 2012

Cucumber food facts, thanks to the Wisconsin Farmers Market Association:  "Cucumbers do not contain an abundance of nutrients -- they contain mostly water but do have small amounts of lutein which is essential in eye health.  Did you ever hear the phrase, "cool as a cucumber"?  ... you'll find the inside of a cucumber to be 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperatures in the summer heat!  Native to India, cucumbers may be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Food Enterprise Center Grand Opening. Congratulations Sue and Vernon County, Wisconsin!

What a wonderful day for Vernon County, Wisconsin and the world!

My friend Sue Noble is a great economic developer. 

Yesterday Sue and a zillion friends including me celebrated the Grand Opening of their Food Enterprise Center in Viroqua.

This building was a manufacturing plant and a hub for good regional jobs for decades.  When the owners shut the plant down Sue and her team acted boldly.

Sue focused on food as economic development.  In doing so she converted a problem into a world class asset.

Best of all though, is that Sue dedicated the re-opening of this facility to the men and women who lost their livelihoods when the former plant shut down.  Many were with us at the celebration today.

Congratulations Sue and to everyone involved with today's Grand Opening of the Food Enterprise Center! 

Vernon County Broadcaster story about Grand Opening

WisBusiness.com story

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Help for entrepreneurs with disabilities

 Here is a great story about new organizations emerging to support entrepreneurs who have disabilities.

It's been a dream of mine to introduce entrepreneurs who have disabilities to the great team of people with disabilities working at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.  

Entrepreneurs with disabilities could be creating jobs for other people with disabilities as they develop their businesses.... good for all involved.

We are creating these kind of opportunities with small batch food startups.  

Professionally managed safe, legal kitchens can change the world.  That's what Annette Pierce and her culinary team at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen have taught me.

With this kind of platform, entrepreneurs who have disabilities can launch their own food businesses from wherever they live.  The food processing work can be done safely, legally and deliciously by Annette and her professional culinary team that includes many people with disabilities.

As demand grows, we can help launch new professional community kitchens and create new jobs and opportunities for all involved including entrepreneurs and workers who have disabilities.  

Chicago Tribune:  Help for entrepreneurs who have disabilities

"It is no secret that it is difficult for new small businesses to succeed.

Imagine the extra challenges faced by business owners with disabilities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people with disabilities are almost twice as likely as the general population to be self-employed. They are also much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. When they plan to establish a business, people with disabilities confront extra challenges..."

The Innovation Kitchen model can be used to create startup opportunities for entrepreneurs who have disabilities as well as creating jobs and support for people with disabilities in our communities.

Help for entrepreneurs who have disabilitiesChicago Tribune article,  Written by Elliot Raphaelson,  April 27, 2012.  Copyright Tribune Media Services.

Information about food startups in professional community kitchens.  Our new social venture.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Jack's in Skokie - 487 years of sustainable jobs

There are no higher honors for small business owners than long term, sustainable success and the earned loyalty of the people they employ and support.

Mary and I recently got the chance to eat breakfast at Jack's Restaurant in Skokie, IL.

Check out the years of service their employees have been with them. 

Talk about sustainable work...

Jack's has provided 94 years of combined employment for the owners Jack and George.

Jack's has provided 393 years of combined total employment for their employees.  

That's a combined total of 487 years of sustainable work.  At this writing Jack's has likely created more than 500 years worth of good local jobs.  Imagine if you could include all the many years worth of total jobs for people who worked there in the past.

Remarkable.  Congratulations to the entire family at Jack's! 

Jack's Menu and contact info 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Madison, WI ranked one of the top 20 American cities by Bloomberg.

Accolades for Madison, Wisconsin roll in regularly.  These awards are well deserved.

Madison is a great place to live and work.  I raised my family here and started successful businesses here.

Madison was just named one of the 20 best cities in the United States by Bloomberg.

Many thanks to my friend Jennifer Alexander for the Bloomberg news link.  Thanks also to Jennifer for many years of success as leader of the Madison Chamber of Commerce and our regional economic development organization, Thrive.

If you needs help connecting to this great city let me know.  

Here is the link to the Bloomberg story

City of Madison official site

 Jennifer Alexander at LinkedIn

Photo copyright David Nevala and Bloomberg.  Thanks.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mineral Point artists Tom and Diana Johnston featured in Wisconsin State Journal

My friends Tom and Diana Johnston were featured in last Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal under the 'Favorite spaces' column.  It's a very nice 'behind the scenes' introduction.

These good folks are the founders and owners of Brewery Pottery and the Johnston Gallery in Mineral Point, WI.

The newspaper story paints a picture of the beautiful living space Diana and Tom have created at their 1850s brewery - now turned into their home and studio. The story pays special tribute to the beautiful family table Tom built from redwood long ago in California.

I'm also thankful that Tom has served as a long term Board member of our Iowa County Area Economic Development Corp.

If you are looking for a great place to visit, check out this story then come visit the Johnston Gallery and Brewery Creek Pottery in beautiful Mineral Point, Wisconsin.

Former brewery has been fit for a family. Wisconsin State Journal article by Patricia Simms. Oct. 7, 2012

Brewery Pottery

Johnston Gallery

Iowa County Area Economic Development

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Make your life safer. No slip floors. Inside and outside.

I usually don't recommend individual businesses but I'm going to start ignoring that.

I had lunch this week with an old friend and former client who is a really cool specialty contractor. Mark provides a valuable service that few of us ever stop to consider.

My friend Mark Wilcox owns Wisconsin No Slip Floors. His firm offers treatments for most any surface - inside and outside - making it safer and even more beautiful. You don't have to put up with slippery, dangerous floors at home or at work.

Mark can make homes much safer - floors, tubs, showers, decks, and pools. At work, Wisconsin No Slip Floors can treat most floors to increase safety and decrease risk. We did our tub floor and it made an immediate difference.

It makes sense to invest in prevention rather than paying for injuries and time off work.

This would make an especially great gift for an older person in your life.

Mark at Wisconsin No Slip Floors is a craftsman and a great resource for people wanting to increase their safety at home and at work. He's also got some great no-slip products you can order and apply on your own.

Mark's base is in Southeast Wisconsin. His territory is typically all of Wisconsin and Northern Illinois but I'm sure you could coax him further with a great job. No guarantee, but if you mention promotion code 'Rick', Mark will probably split his McDonald's cookies with you.

This year, give yourself and your family the gift of safety. Wisconsin No Slip Floors.

Here is how to get in touch with Mark:

Check our Mark's photo galleries

Contact page

Visit Wisconsin No Slip Floors