Salt Lake City’s farmers markets draw loyal consumers

Story and slideshow by JOSH SOUTAS

Experience all that the Winter Market has to offer.

 

“We never miss a market,” said Salt Lake City local Paula Butler. Her friend, Lori Martin, added, “We come every time.” Butler and Martin are just two of the many consumers who wander around the Winter Market at 10 a.m. every other Saturday from November until April looking for locally grown produce.

The two said the combination of fresh produce, and the get-together that the Winter Market has become, is what keeps them coming back.

“It’s now as much of a social event as it is a grocery shopping event for us,” said Butler, who is also a regular at the summer Saturday Market. “Not only do you know what you are buying is healthy and good for you, but it is fun to come and meet the farmers who grow and are selling their own local products.”

In its third year, the Winter Market is held in the historical Rio Grande Depot. The train station’s tracks were first used in 1910, according to Utah Communication History Encyclopedia writer Kelsie Haymond. The old train station is transformed into a paradise for consumers who are looking for locally grown produce during the winter months. Vendors, who set up shop where passengers used to load onto trains, give the landmark building a lively atmosphere again.

The market entrance runs through the Rio Gallery, located in the Grand Lobby of the Rio Grande Depot. Shoppers on the second floor get an overhead view of the artwork in the free gallery.

Alison Einerson, market manager of the Salt Lake City Farmers Markets, said in a phone interview that the Winter Market almost exclusively features food vendors who cater to local eaters.

The Winter Market occurs when many vegetables and fruits are out of season. Einerson said that challenge was not difficult to overcome.

“It’s really eye opening to see that there are still so many locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables available, even though it is December and snowing, or February and bitter cold outside,” Einerson said. “There [are] beets, asparagus, parsley, onions, potatoes, and in my opinion our market is home to the best local baked goods.”

Einerson also agreed with market regulars Butler and Martin that many people attend the market not only for the produce, but also for the social occasion that it has become.

It is not surprising to see the Winter Market be successful even though it has not been around as long as the established Saturday Market. Farmers markets have risen in popularity with more than 8,200 nationwide, a 76 percent increase since 2008, according to the USDA.

Steven Mountford is a honey farmer with White Lake Farms. The Genola, Utah, farm has been a vendor with the Winter Market since its opening. It also takes part in the Saturday Market during the summer.

Mountford said he understands why farmers markets have been growing in popularity and size, especially in the last few years.

His explanation? He said people are starting to be curious and are caring where their food is coming from.

“It is important to expose people to the reality of where their food is coming from,” Mountford said. “People are now questioning how their food is getting to them and if it is good for them.”

Mountford isn’t wrong, according to a 2011 food dialogues survey. The survey focused on opinions, attitudes and questions that consumers and farmers had about the state of how food is raised in the U.S. The study found that “consumers think about food production constantly, yet know very little about how food is brought to the dinner table.”

Mountford believes that consumers asking questions about their food and caring where it is coming from is making a difference.

“You get customers asking restaurant owners, ‘Where did this chicken come from?’ or ‘Where did these vegetables come from?’ People didn’t used to ask these questions. And it helps motivate restaurant owners to buy locally,” he said.

Salsa Del Diablo, a Salt Lake City company, has participated in the Winters Market for two years. It also took part in the Saturday Market for the first time in 2015, one of the four Utah summer markets it participated in last year.

The company carries eight different salsa flavors in the summer, and four in the winter. Salsa Del Diablo motivates customers to buy its products by donating 1 percent of profit to adaptive sports in Utah.

Employee Jennifer Lehmbuck said the local markets are what helped the company break through into grocery stores in 2015.

“Farmers Markets open doors for local companies like Salsa Del Diablo,” Lehmbuck said.

Besides the exposure that the market has provided, Lehmbuck said she has seen other benefits of participating in markets.

“These local farmers markets build community. It helps get people connected with their food and lets them get to know where and whom their food is coming from,” Lehmbuck said. Salsa Del Diablo sources the majority of its salsa ingredients from Bangerter Farms, located in Bountiful, Utah.

Michael Pollan, author of “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” and creator of the Netflix documentary series “Cooked,” told “Nourish” that “a farmers market is kind of like a public square, and there is a nice social energy. At the farmers market, city meets country. People learn about where their food comes from and the people who grew it.”

Market Manager Einerson said this growth in community is one of the main benefits of a farmers market. It supports the local farmers and vendors.

Winter Market Transitioning to Summer Saturday Market

 The Winter Market at Rio Grande closes for the season on April 23, 2016. But Einerson and vendors are looking ahead to the Saturday Market, which will be taking place for the 25th time this year. “It has been a staple of the community here in Salt Lake City,” Einerson said.

Many of the Winter Market vendors, including Salsa Del Diablo and White Lake Farms, will return for the weekly Saturday Farmers Market. They will be joined by dozens more who did not participate in the seasonal event.

Einerson said the time off in between the markets seems seamless to staff as they work throughout May to approve applications, finalize vendor lists and assign locations in Pioneer Park.

The summer Saturday Farmers Market, along with the Arts and Crafts Market, run June 11 through October 22, 2016, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“It doesn’t seem like a long break to us because we don’t stop working. But I am sure the public miss it,” Einerson said.

Indeed, for locals like Paula Butler and the Lori Martin who “never miss a market,” the month and a half without a farmers market is too long.

Interested in finding a local farmers market near you? Visit The Salt Lake Tribune for a list of farmers markets near you.

 

 

 

Zest Kitchen and Bar provides organic dining in Salt Lake City

Story and slideshow by RYAN CARRILLO

Visit Zest Kitchen and Bar and see some of the amazing organic dishes.

 

Nestled between some of the biggest chain restaurants in Salt Lake City, Zest Kitchen and Bar provides a dining experience that no one else can.

The restaurant, located at 275 S. 200 West, is reinventing healthy eating by providing a menu free of processed foods that tastes incredible. Everything the restaurant serves is also 100 percent organic.

“Everything’s fresh, and that’s really what I wanted is fresh and organic real food that came from whole foods and not from a box,” said Casey Staker, the restaurant owner. He opened the bar and restaurant nearly 2 and 1/2 years ago.

Staker has crafted a menu of 35 unique items between brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert. The restaurant offers an eclectic fusion of ethnic tastes and American favorites while using healthier ingredients than nearly anywhere else. It also offers a more “grown-up” environment, being for individuals 21 years old and older.

The brunch menu, available on Fridays and Saturdays (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) features perfectly sculpted buckwheat pancakes or a fresh southwest skillet with quinoa, cheese, black beans and fresh pico de gallo, among other entrees. The brunch menu also includes the “best mimosas in town” for just $5, which come in a variety of flavors.

Zest’s lunch menu provides options that are hard to find anywhere else. Selections range from fresh fruit smoothies and small plate items like cheesey Brazilian bread bites to a fresh kale salad and larger entrée items like coconut curry forbidden rice. For people looking for less-healthy health food there is “barely buzzed beehive” grilled cheese, which puts a fresh spin on an American favorite by pairing it with the soup of the day, pesto and seasonal fruit.

The dinner menu mixes things up by offering mostly shared plates or larger entrees, while still featuring fresh salads and perfectly blended juices. This particular menu is home to beet and walnut dip served with fresh veggies, baked mushrooms with cashew cheese and a tomato and eggplant ratatouille that comes with spinach quinoa.

Perhaps the best part of the menu comes after the entrées, soups and salads have been cleared away: dessert. Staker takes the same approach from his entrees and appetizers and applies it toward dessert staples, creating sweet, succulent cakes and tortes. One of these masterpieces is a carrot cake topped with rich cream cheese, shaved carrot and orange peel.

Tim Hurty, a local resident, has visited Zest Kitchen and Bar on multiple occasions. He is fond of the black bean chia patties served on a multigrain bun. Being a dedicated vegan, he was drawn to the restaurant because of its ability to accommodate his dietary needs. At Zest he is able to enjoy a delicious meal without fear of cross-contamination, which occurs when animal byproducts come in contact with any of the ingredients used in the meal.

Being a vegetarian himself, Staker’s menu is completely free of meat. Many of the dishes are also vegan and the staff is currently working to provide vegan accommodations for all their menu items. Not only that, all the dishes are gluten-free as well.

“Naturally by design vegetarian food or [rather] healthy vegetarian food is almost always gluten-free,” Staker said. As a restaurant owner, the needs of his customers seem to be a driving force behind the menu selection.

Billy McMichael is the head chef at the restaurant. Having worked in vegetarian restaurants for 10 years he understands the importance of these dietary restrictions in the lives of his customers.

“The Zest mission is to be inclusive,” McMichael said. “So almost any allergy you have, you can come here and get a good meal anyway.”

McMichael personally likes the challenge that comes with providing healthy food without sacrificing the taste. It forces him to be creative and innovative with the dishes he and the other staff members prepare.

“It’s been nice to come here where it is less about copying meat style dishes,” he said. “[It’s] more about charting your own path, making things that people haven’t done before, working with more ethnic variety, more variety of produce. I can’t just cheat and flavor up a big piece of tofu and put it with some mashed potatoes and say ‘here’s dinner.’”

The restaurant is also nearly free of soy and doesn’t use any peanuts. For individuals with any of these dietary restrictions, whether forced or voluntary, a restaurant with Zest’s knowledge and dedication is heaven-sent.

For vegans it can be difficult to find a restaurant that fully understands the difference between their needs and vegetarians. Vegetarians limit their diet to not eat any killed animals while vegans take it a step further by not eating anything from an animal. This eliminates things like eggs, milk and cheeses. While there are several restaurants in the Salt Lake Valley that can accommodate  the needs of both groups, there are few, if any, that also match Zest’s focus to overall health.

Zest Kitchen and Bar is also the only dedicated gluten-free restaurant in the city, which may come as a surprise as the gluten-free trend continues to grow and has created a multibillion dollar industry. Chain and local restaurants alike are expanding gluten-free menu items, but none have entirely abandoned the ingredient. Salt Lake is home to several bakeries that are dedicated gluten-free but that’s where it stops.

For individuals with Celiac Disease, a severe autoimmune disease that is triggered by gluten, Zest’s commitment offers them a hidden benefit that most people don’t see. The symptoms of the disease can be unleashed with the slightest trace of gluten in someone’s food. That means that even eating a gluten-free meal, if prepared in a standard restaurant kitchen where gluten is also used, can potentially cause symptoms to flare-up since the food may come into contact with gluten in a variety of ways. Since Zest’s kitchen is dedicated gluten-free there is zero chance for cross contamination. No one else in the area can offer that.

What may be most surprising is why Staker and his staff run the restaurant this way.

“I didn’t do this restaurant because I was sick,” said the owner. “I did it because I wanted a healthy place to eat.”

Zest is also “healthy” for the economy. The restaurant tries to buy as much local product as possible, supporting local merchants throughout the year. Since the menu is dependent on fresh fruits and vegetables this can become difficult as the seasons change.

“In the summer we do as much local [shopping] as we can. We still get our greens from a local greenhouse,” Staker said. “We have a special salad that’s always local. [The selection of produce] gets better and better when it gets warmer. Spring, summer, fall we have a lot of local stuff. During winter we have to outsource. Our goal is to support local.”

That commitment to the local community doesn’t stop just in the restaurant’s shopping practices. The staff is active in the community, exposing new people to their food on a regular basis and helping them make better dietary decisions.

During the summer of 2014, Zest operated a booth at the summer farmers market at Pioneer Park, 350 S. 300 West. In 2015, the restaurant is ditching the booth for a more mobile option.

Soon Zest Kitchen and Bar will be unveiling Utah’s first health food truck. The truck will be featured at health conventions like the gluten-free and healthy living expos. Staker is excited for the opportunities the truck will give the restaurant.

He says that public response has been great whenever Zest has had a booth at these types of events, so the food truck response should be even better.

“When we go to the gluten-free expo people say ‘oh my gosh you guys actually have real food. You guys are serving heathy vegetables and dips and stuff,’” he said. “At the gluten-free expo it’s cakes and cookies and packaged stuff.”

The restaurant’s truck is scheduled to debut at the end of April 2015 once preparations are finalized; an exact date has not been set yet.

Roy City gets “facelift” in hope of growth

Story and slideshow by BRITTNI STRICKLAND

Visit the city of Roy and meet some local business owners.

Roy City, populated with 37,733 individuals, is commonly known for its strong community and hometown feel, which can be especially found in local businesses in the area. However, popular chain businesses like CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens and WinCo Foods have begun to take the focus off of local businesses and in a different direction.

At the recent city council meetings at the Roy City Office courtroom and in speaking with city council member John Cordova, it is apparent that the council would like larger corporations moving into the town of Roy.

“You never want to chase away the small guys because the small guys are huge,” Cordova said. “They’re local and they’re loyal. But on the other hand any homeowner in Roy, if we don’t continue to bring in big businesses, then supporting the city ends up on the resident’s back and that’s not good.”

While sitting at the kitchen table in his Roy home, Roy City Mayor Willard Cragun said the city started a “facelift” in April 2015 on 1900 West in Roy to help take some of the pressure of supporting the city off of the residents’ shoulders.

“What I have planned for Roy City is re-establishing Roy City’s business community, so that we can provide local services to the residents of Roy. So, if you want to buy a pair of shoes, you can buy a pair of shoes in Roy City, or a dress, or pair of pants, you should have a shop you can go to in Roy,” he said.

Cragun noticed in 2000 that the majority of local businesses were moving out of town as developers moved in. “Over the years those ma and pa businesses have left Roy City. It’s been very, very hard to get them to re-establish in Roy,” he said. Once the developers established in Roy, the 25-year leases through the Redevelopment Agency expired and prices skyrocketed, making it hard for locals to afford rental rates. Another problem the town faces with bringing locals back, is the city does not have open ground for locals to build on. Consequently, they must purchase buildings from developers, tear them down and rebuild, all of which is an expensive process.

The city has no control over the developers and what type of businesses they choose to lease to. “The developers have all the rights and the city has no say,” Cragun said. Roy City only has control of business when the City Council approves business licenses.

Councilman Cordova said, “A lot of spots in our town need fixing, everyone sees it.” The council has approached merchants on 1900 West and heard outpouring support for a plan to clean up the downtown area in a mission to attract larger markets to Roy City.

Cordova and Councilman Brad Hilton are currently working on economic development of the city and plan to visit Las Vegas in May 2015 to meet with economic planners to get ideas for the facelift. Cordova mentioned the idea of the city approaching the local Harmons to get its help in spurring the development of the entire city. He mentioned how Harmons has helped spark growth at Farmington Station and in downtown Salt Lake City.

The council has been approached and has begun focusing on plans to have a movie theater come into town where Albertsons store was located on the corner of 5600 S. 1900 West in Roy. The building has been vacant for almost 13 years, Cragun said. Traffic from adjacent towns like West Point, Hooper, Clearfield and from the freeway would be brought into the city benefitting everyone. Cragun said the city needs something to draw people to Roy and hopes that a movie theater would do just that similarly like it did for the city of Ogden when Megaplex 13 was built.

The thought of having larger corporations come into the city of Roy has caused mixed reviews from local businesses including Jessie Jean’s Coffee Bean’s Homestyle Café, Sacco’s Produce and Roy Winegars pharmacy.

Lloyd Thomas is the owner of the pharmacy in Winegars that has been located at 3444 W. 4800 South in Roy for 20 years. He said that when CVS Pharmacy opened last year on 1900 West he was nervous about what that might do to his business. But, he has yet to see a change. “It’s just a way of the economy, there are chain stores everywhere,” Thomas said.

“I’ve always felt that Roy City has been really supportive of us,” Thomas said. The city supports the pharmacy at the annual Roy Days Parade and carnival as well as in the local newsletter.

Jessie Jean’s Coffee Beans Homestyle Café in Roy has experienced struggles keeping the business alive while in the city. Anna Whitnack, owner of Jessie Jean’s for 15 year, said “it’s been hell” while being in the city. Owning a business on 1900 West has been difficult due to a neglected main street and continuous problems with a nearby store, Whitnack said.

Whitnack is working hard to move her coffee shop to a new town in hopes of better business and more support from the city. “We went to talk to Ogden City and they had open arms,” Whitnack said. There is no confirmed date as to when Jessie Jean’s Coffee Bean’s Homestyle Café will move out of town.

Sacco’s Produce has been in the same spot in Roy since 1969. Dominic Sacco said Roy City has always been a local type of city, but he wouldn’t necessarily mind other business in town.

Sacco’s Produce, at 6050 S. 1900 West, has frequenters from Idaho and all over the state of Utah during the summer months. Locals patronize it during the winter months. But with larger markets coming into the town, he said the biggest struggle for Sacco’s Produce has been competing with those “box stores” like Winco and Wal Mart.

“People think they’re going to get a better deal, which pricewise they may. But they may not get the quality. We’re more about selling local products grown here,” Sacco said.

Even with the struggles of keeping up with larger market stores, Sacco believes it’s a good idea to continue to move them into the city. “It’s good to have businesses around each other, it brings everybody to the same location,” Sacco said.

Mayor Cragun clarified that larger corporate markets would help the city of Roy. But, he still wants to keep that local hometown feel that Roy City is known best for. “I’m looking forward to more of the locally-owned businesses in Roy,” Cragun said. He added that he hopes that the beautification of downtown Roy on 1900 West will bring in larger markets as well as local shops while helping the city of Roy and the residents within the city.

 

The Women’s Business Center: A support in the entrepreneurial journey

Story and photos by LIZ G. ROJAS

One of Utah’s best-kept secrets for aspiring entrepreneurs is the Women’s Business Center, located in downtown Salt Lake City within the Chamber offices.

The WBC is a nonprofit organization that is partially funded by the federal government through the Salt Lake City Chamber. Because the center is a 501(c)(3), it is expected to match the funding it receives through fundraising or sponsors.

The Women’s Business Center’s goal and purpose is to help increase the number of women-owned businesses in the state of Utah through consulting, training and networking opportunities.

The center has been operational for 17 years and has a consultant who provides a variety of different services. Services are free to the public and range from helping with business plans and cash flow projections to government consulting.

Former day-care owner Lorena Sierra missed the opportunity to work with the Women’s Business Center.

Lorena Sierra

Lorena Sierra

“I know a lot of times I needed help with grants and I wasn’t able to apply because I had no idea how,” Sierra said. “I wish I would have known of an organization like that [WBC].”

Sierra owned a day-care center in Utah County alongside her business partner for 17 years. In 2012, after her partner sold her half, Sierra ran out of funding options and chose to sell her business.

According to American Express, her center was 1 of 73,000 businesses in Utah that are women-owned, compared to the 9.1 million nationally that are owned by women.

The Small Business Administration defines a woman-owned business as one that is owned at least 51 percent by a woman. In addition, the woman can make independent decisions regarding the business without being undermined by anyone and is responsible for planning the short- and long-term activities.

Ann Marie Thompson- Program Director for the Women's Business Center

Ann Marie Thompson

Ann Marie Thompson, program director for the Women’s Business Center, says there is demand for a woman-oriented organization because there are different stresses for women than there are for men.

Most women are trying to start a business from home or as an addition to full-time responsibilities. They’re driven by flexibility because their first obligation is to their family. The majority of clients who meet with the WBC have these similar backgrounds and priorities.

Evette Alldredge, a local business owner, was guided by the Women’s Business Center and benefited from its services.

In a phone interview, Alldredge said that she arrived at the center with a partial business plan and high hopes. She met once a week for approximately five months with the center to create a business plan and explore all aspects of the planning.

Alldredge was able to present in front of Utah’s Microenterprise Loan Fund and received funding from the nonprofit for her business.

In April 2014, Evette Alldredge’s business, Super Gym Gymnastics, opened its doors.

However, even though the business center does direct its organization toward women, its services are for everyone. Thompson said that 20 percent of the WBC’s clientele are, in fact, men. She said, “We consult with anyone who wants to come.”

The Women’s Business Center has a broad range of connections and partnerships. Some of the partners are the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The center also works with the Salt Lake City World Trade Center and Salt Lake Magazine. The WBC refers clients to the World Trade Center if they need help learning how to import and export.

Salt Lake Magazine features the Women in Business section in the September/October issue. The WBC is highlighted in that issue.

Although the center is associated with the Salt Lake City Chamber it is not confined to the Wasatch Front. Thompson said Google Hangout and Skype are frequently used to communicate with clients throughout the state.

According to the Small Business Administration, twice as many women-owned businesses are opened every day, compared to three years ago. However, there are still barriers that haven’t been overcome by women business owners.

One of the barriers is the compensation gap. Even if a woman is the owner of a business, her salary is lower compared to others in her same position.

“Women choose to pay themselves less, not knowing what others are paying themselves,” Thompson said. “Women are also choosing jobs that pay less. ”

American Express reported in 2014 that the goal shouldn’t be to motivate more women to open businesses, but instead to financially support those who are already established and help them expand.

Regardless, the need for the Women’s Business Center in Utah is crucial. As Lorena Sierra said, “We do need a lot of support. We have the desire to have our own businesses but we don’t have a guide.”

The WBC is one of Utah’s best-kept secret support systems for aspiring business owners.

“If it weren’t for the Women’s Business Center I would not be where I am today,” said Evette Alldredge, owner of Super Gym Gymnastics, who continues to work with the center for a business expansion loan. “I am the most happy, successful entrepreneur.”

Spice Kitchen Incubator helps refugees start food businesses

Story and photos by RYAN CARRILLO

Spice Kitchen Incubator gives certain Utah residents a unique opportunity: a chance to plan and develop a food-based business.

The kitchen incubator primarily assists international refugees who have relocated to Salt Lake City, but also provides services to immigrants and lower-income individuals. The program is part of the International Rescue Committee in Salt Lake City, or IRC SLC, which helps in international crises and relocates refugees in 22 different cities throughout the U.S.

Spice Kitchen Incubator provides everything from ovens to large prep space for the chefs

Spice Kitchen Incubator provides everything from ovens to large prep space for the chefs.

Refugees are individuals forced to leave their native country due to political unrest, war or safety concerns. When they are relocated to the United States, they have to adapt to a completely new culture and way of living.

Spice Kitchen Incubator helps them adjust to some of these changes.

Entrepreneurs, or participants, in Spice Kitchen Incubator aspire to start their own business. These individuals will mostly likely run their own catering business, food truck or farmers market booth by the end of the program.

The program is designed to help each entrepreneur achieve these goals and be successful in the American business market.

“Every entrepreneur’s goals are different but our overall goal is to build self-sufficient businesses,” said Genevieve Healey, the program coordinator for Spice Kitchen Incubator. “Those are the things we are helping them with, [things] like accounting, marketing and connecting them to resources. At a certain point they are comfortable doing that all on their own and they know how to use those resources.”

Spice Kitchen Incubator is divided into two different levels: pre-incubation and incubation. Pre-incubation is designed to help entrepreneurs develop a business plan and teach them how to run a successful business. Incubation is focused on real experience and exposure, putting each participant in control of their business.

Entrepreneurs begin in pre-incubation. They participate in this level for six months before advancing to incubation, depending on their individual needs and progress. During this phase of the program, they are building the foundation for running a business.

Each Saturday, the kitchen incubator hosts workshops for those individuals, covering everything from profit-and-loss and advertising to marketing positioning and food costing. Additionally, each entrepreneur will participate in a focus group. The focus group plays an essential role in the development of the aspiring business owner’s business plan.

“Volunteers from the food industry and the community come and try the entrepreneur’s food and those are entrepreneurs in pre-incubation so they are just developing their menu and what they are going to sell,” Healey said.

Feedback from volunteers is essential. It helps the chefs make adjustments to the business plan. It also can help them develop a mentorship with people in the community.

Kamal is one of 10 entrepreneurs in the pre-incubation stage. As a Bhutanese refugee, he was resettled in the U.S. almost five years ago. He has participated in the Spice Kitchen Incubator for almost a year.

Kamal’s focus group met on March 11, 2015. The chef spent several hours preparing food to present to the group. He said he has enjoyed participating in the program and was excited to share his culture and food with the volunteers and staff. He said he is very appreciative for the help of his wife and daughter, as well as a local volunteer, while preparing for his focus group.

Kamal prepares for his focus group with the help of his wife, daughter and a community volunteer.

Kamal prepares for his focus group with the help of his wife, daughter and a community volunteer.

After pre-incubation, entrepreneurs advance to incubation. This portion of the program typically lasts for 4 to 4 1/2 years. In all, entrepreneurs are able to be in the program for five years. There are currently three entrepreneurs enrolled in the incubation portion of the program. Since the Spice Kitchen Incubator was only opened in 2013, no one has graduated from the program yet.

During incubation, the aspiring business owners begin running an operational business. They start by applying for their business license. Once received, the entrepreneurs begin catering events and participating in local farmers markets.

During the winter, the chefs sell pre-packaged food at the market that they prepare at the Spice Kitchen Incubator’s facilities. The winter market is held every other Saturday at the Rio Grande Depot (300 S. 300 West) from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. It runs through April 2015.

During the summer farmers market, entrepreneurs rotate between packaged and prepared foods. Prepared foods are cooked on-site rather than at the Spice Kitchen Incubator facilities. Healey said the kitchen hopes to expand its services at this year’s summer market to include one booth dedicated solely to packaged foods and another just for prepared foods. This would give the entrepreneurs more exposure and increase their ability to build a client base. The summer market runs from June 13 to Oct. 24, 2015, and is held each week at Pioneer Park on 300 W. 400 South.

Healey said the farmers market demonstrated how beneficial the incubator’s programs can be for both the business owners as well as the community as a whole.

“The farmers market was a really awesome experience, especially the summer farmers market because it is where we can do prepared foods,” she said. “We’ve said that there is a need for this in the community but it was really cool to have that hands-on [experience], like ‘oh yeah, people really want this.’”

Community members can get involved with the incubator through several different ways. The Spice Kitchen Incubator is always looking for individuals to serve on focus group panels, which requires a commitment of a couple hours each session, as well as help with any other topics related to running a business. Donations can also be made on the incubator’s website.

Maria Gigourtaki, who works as the volunteer and communications coordinator for the kitchen, said volunteers can have some amazing experiences with the program. “[The entrepreneurs] are all so passionate,” she said. “I mean, food is something that gets people together and it’s awesome. You can get to see and meet people, new cultures, new flavors, history, languages, everything. It’s amazing!”

Ensuring small business survival by learning from failure

Story and photo by LIZ G. ROJAS

Starting a business is never an easy step, especially when the odds are stacked against aspiring business owners.

According to a study published on statisticbrain.com, 44 percent of businesses fail within the first three years in operation.

Pyramid Auto Sales on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City.

Pyramid Auto Sales on Redwood Road in Salt Lake City.

The Alpizar family owns Pyramid Auto Sales, a used car dealership that has been operational in Salt Lake City for 18 years.

Silvia Alpizar said in a phone interview that she decided in 2013 to open a second location in Pleasant Grove replicating the business model used in Salt Lake City. She invested approximately $20,000 in preparing the dealership for the opening in August 2013.

As months passed, Alpizar noticed that the Utah County location was different from the Salt Lake City location, especially in the demographics of the clients. In the original location, clients were mostly Hispanic and therefore the advertising centered on that community.

But the demand from the Latino community was close to nonexistent in Utah County. Instead, with two universities in the area, college students made up the new market.

For Alpizar, the momentum of working with young adults held for only a few months.

As summer 2014 approached, students started heading back home.

“Sales dropped and we didn’t have enough money to keep on paying rent or [for advertising],” Alpizar said.

Low sales because of the inconsistent market made money tight for Alpizar. And she said cars weren’t being turned over within the 90-day window that is necessary for dealerships to make a profit.

About 10 months after opening Pyramid Auto Sales in Pleasant Grove, Alpizar was forced to close the business.

Since then, the Alpizar family has focused their efforts on the Salt Lake City dealership and have expanded business into online sales and advertising. KSL is currently one of the many platforms in which sales are promoted and increased.

In January 2015, statisticbrain.com reported numbers on business closures from the U.S Census Bureau. One of the biggest problems businesses faced was not enough cash flow through sales. This was either by underestimating the market, lack of planning or not being able to achieve successful funding.

One organization works to help Utah businesses gain sales by educating the public on the importance of buying local. Kristen Lavelett, executive director of Local First Utah, said that out of every $100 spent at an independent business, $55.40 is returned to the local economy. Conversely, only $13.60 is returned to Utah’s economy when people shop at franchises.

Some residents, such as Armando Castillo, a student at LDS Business College, said if given the choice to buy from a franchise or local business, he chooses local. “I work with locally owned businesses so I try to help them be successful,” Castillo said.

The awareness and education that local organizations are offering the public may help in increasing sales for independent businesses, which in turn increases cash flow.

However, entrepreneurship is no easy task and recognizing that the success of the business itself depends on the entrepreneur makes it no easier.

In the study cited earlier about business failures, the No. 1 cause for small business failure is incompetence, which is defined as lack of knowledge about business, or spending beyond means, etc. This amounted to 46 percent of start-up failures. Other causes included lack of managerial experience and insufficient inventory.

Starting a business is not an easy step. Silvia Alpizar closed her second business even though she has 18 years of experience owning a car dealership.

Extensive market research, financial knowledge and determination are necessary assets for success.

“We weren’t familiar with the market; we feel like we wasted time and money,” Silvia Alpizar said.

Saving for retirement: start now

Story and slideshow by MARISSA BODILY

Learn about some tools for saving for retirement.

Aging adults are finding that it is very expensive to retire. The need to prepare for that time of life should start early if people want to be able to live comfortably after they stop working.

The average age to retire is 62 years old and the average amount of time a person spends being retired is 18 years. This means that one needs to be able to anticipate the preparation required to provide for themselves financially for 18 years if they don’t want to spend that time working, according to statistics collected by Statistic Brain from the U.S. Census Bureau, Saperston Companies and Bankrate.

“Start saving early,” said Jared Johnsen, a financial planner at BCJ Wealth Management in Salt Lake City. “Establish the habit of putting away a little each pay check. You’ll never miss it, but [your money] will quickly grow.”

The average retirement age is going up because people are having to work longer to prepare sufficient funds. It is their savings that they are going to live off of when they are no longer employed.

In the early 1990s, the average age to retire was 57 years old, according to a 2013 Gallup Economy survey. In the past, workers could rely on Social Security to take care of them financially. It was a much greater possibility for them to be able to sustain themselves with that money instead of having to prepare and save individually. Unfortunately, workers can no longer rely exclusively on Social Security to give them the life they want after they are retired.

Statistic Brain determined that a married couple over age 65 will pay $215,000 for medical treatment over 20 years. Out of 100 people who started working at age 25, only 4 percent will have an adequate amount of money saved for retirement by age 65 and 63 percent are dependent on Social Security, friends, relatives or charity.

“The average person is not prepared,” Johnsen said. “Ten thousand people turn 65 every day and over 50 percent of them have zero savings for retirement. The average retirement plan balance for all 65 year olds is only $33,000.”

Social Security has been the program that people have depended on to help them get through their retirement years. According to CNN Money’s Ultimate Guide to Retirement, the program is based on contributions that workers put in. While employed, the workers pay money to Social Security and reap the benefits when their turn to retire comes.

Social Security is no longer sustainable because instead of a group of people putting money in and only one person taking it out, the ratio is shifting to one-to-one. Essentially, for every person who puts money in, one person is taking money out.

“Don’t count on living off Social Security when you retire,” said Peter Hebertson, information and referral program manager for Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services. “We don’t know what is going to happen with your generation.”

The best thing young people can do to prepare for retirement is obtain an education and save money, Hebertson said.

Because Social Security is no longer a guarantee, people are having to become more self-reliant when it comes to planning for retirement and the future.

Social Security is far from perfect, Johnsen said. It won’t be enough to meet all of our needs, it will just serve as a supplement.

Eighty percent of people age 30 to 54 believe they will not have enough money saved for retirement, according to Statistic Brain.

For those people who are getting closer to retirement and are not prepared, Johnsen said, “They should start now. They should also do some calculations to figure out how much money they need to put away to reach their goals. The older they are, the more they need to put away.”

Calculators are available online to estimate how much money you will need for retirement. They can take into account all your living expenses and other expected costs, including leisure.

There are many options available to help save money effectively. “I would first look at an employer-sponsored qualified retirement plan. Generally they offer match contributions that they put in on your behalf so it’s free money,” Johnsen said. He also suggests looking at a Roth IRA because the growth and distributions after you put your money in are tax free.

“Albert Einstein said his greatest discovery was compound interest. It can work for you or work against you. Start saving early and compound interest will be a great tool,” Johnsen said.

“I meet with numerous people every month,” he said. “I met with one individual that started [saving] when he was young and got in the habit of saving and even with his modest income he was still able to accumulate over $2 million for his retirement needs.”

This is an example of someone who was well prepared and made compound interest work in his favor. However, there are people who have not prepared as well.

“I met with a client who is a doctor that is 55 years old and makes over $500,000 a year in income,” Johnsen said. “But he also spends $500,000 a year on lavish travel, fancy cars, a huge home, etc. He asked me to help him save for retirement and was completely embarrassed to tell me that he has only accumulated $30,000 in an IRA. Yet he wants to live off of $250,000 a year when he retires. He wants to retire in 10 years. I told him he basically needs to save every penny over the next 10 years to reach his goal. Or he needs to retire on much less or wait longer to retire. The reality is that he needs to do all three.”

Saving for retirement is a reality that the young and old need to face and prepare for in order to have a comfortable and pleasurable future that continues beyond the working years.