Tom is the original problem solver. You have a problem, he’s got a way to fix it. Drainage problems and wet basement? He can grade your lawn and lay a drain pipe. Something too heavy to move? He is the strongest man I know, and he knows physics and levers like no one’s business. Feeling out of sorts? He’s got a goofy story to make you laugh, or a trick that involves stomping on your foot if you’ve got a headache.
Now, put that service mentality into a busy roadside stand. Need some basil and we just sold out? No problem, he’ll stop what he’s doing and go pick some for you fresh. An employee needs an answer to a question? He knows how to find the answer out. Our watermelon is too big for the two of you to eat? Let me sell you half of one!
Hard stop. Food Law in Michigan is there for a reason. No, honey, we can’t cut watermelon for folks. Not unless we have a licensed, commercial kitchen.
Problem? There’s always a solution. But our little stand on Carpenter Road just didn’t have the bones to support the solution of a licensed, commercial kitchen. No water source – no well, no city water. No sewer system. No heat, no air conditioning, no insulation – just a barn. So we sold whole watermelons.
So, why build a kitchen?Then I got a call from a friend encouraging me to propose a food-based business to a pitch competition. That got me going – what would I build, if I won? What problems would it solve? What would it do for my community?
I didn’t win the pitch competition. Nor did I receive a grant either time I submitted one. (I thought I had a VERY COMPELLING STORY and SOUND FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS and POSITIVE COMMUNITY IMPACT highlighted, but I still didn’t get funded…)
But the seed had been planted. I wanted a kitchen. I wanted to cut that watermelon to a size that my senior customers could actually consume – a slice, a wedge? I grow the good ones – the ones with color, and flavor, and juice, and memories of being a kid at a summer party – not the ones that are pale and flavorless and don’t feel like long ago. And if I can cut a watermelon, I can do more. All of those conversations with all of my customers and friends came back: I wish you’d make salsa for me. I wish you’d peel and dice that butternut squash for me. I wish you’d figure out what’s for dinner tonight for me.
So I applied for a loan and got started. I can’t wait to see what I can do for you.