The Good Food Tour
The Good Food Tour is our Featured Business for November 2021 and it brings a delicious story of good (make that excellent) food, philanthropy, and community enhancement. The business, which is owned and operated by Cathy Reside, started off with an “ah-ha!” moment during a Las Vegas food tour in 2016. While enjoying the tour, Reside realized she could blend her experience and passion working as a food advisor together with her knowledge of excellent, local cuisine and start off a venture like the tour she was on. Thus, the business concept was born and Reside knew that Almonte, Ontario, was the perfect locale for such an endeavour.
The tours, hosted in either Almonte or Carleton Place, Ontario, lead guests around some of Lanark County’s most beautiful and historic downtown settings, some of which have been used recently for popular holiday-themed movies. The delicacies vary due to seasonality but have included savoury crepes, artisanal cheeses, buttery scones, craft beer pairings, and French bistro fare, to name a few.
Reside has a beautiful connection with the town of Almonte. In 2015, she became involved with a Syrian refugee project that sponsored and helped relocate families to Almonte. Through this program, Reside became enamoured by the strength of community spirit and willingness to help and built important connections which would eventually be able to assist her with the business plan.
Starting a business, as many an entrepreneur will know, is no easy feat. It takes hours of time, dedication, sweat, and many tears. Reside poured herself into the creation of her business, including signing up and successfully completing the Starter Company Plus program. Through the program, Reside developed key business skills that would give her the boost of confidence to launch the business and start calling on her key connections within the Almonte community.
The challenge in developing proof of concept for the business plan was attracting key business partners: the restaurant owners. Many of the now partners were initially apprehensive about how they would benefit from the Good Food Tour business plan and had concerns on how much more work it was going to take out of their already exhausting workdays. Fortunately, a few businesses took the chance and after the initial launch and success, other restaurants followed.
The Good Food Tour has been on hiatus since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic started, but plans are underway for the 2022 season. Check out The Good Food Tour website at https://thegoodfoodtour.com/ and sign-up for their newsletter which will include exciting updates for the 2022 season.
Chasin’ Turkeys – Carleton Place, ON
The Small Business Advisory Centre’s Feature Business for October 2021 is Chasin’ Turkeys Bowling Center, located at 51 Bridge Street in Carleton Place, Ontario. The business has been owned and operated by Ashley Walrond and his family since 2018 and boasts six lanes of traditional 5 pin bowling with updated automatic pinsetters and ball returns. The fully licensed location is an excellent venue for birthday parties, corporate events, and leagues.
Chasin’ Turkeys, the term for bowling 3 strikes in a row, was established in 2018 when Walrond, who had a history of working in sales, found himself wanting to branch out into business ownership and entrepreneurship. The idea of owning and running a family entertainment business seemed like an exciting albeit challenging option due to the overwhelming capital costs needed to purchase a commercial space and to furnish equipment/machines. Luckily for Walrond, he approached the owner of the historic Carleton Place Bowling upon news of their retirement and was able to transitional ownership, including the building with its already existing lanes. The previous business was exceptionally well-run and highly regarded by the community allowing for the newly created Chasin’ Turkeys to be easily established.
As part of his business ownership journey, Walrond signed up for the Starter Company Plus Program to help ensure the health of his business. His entry into the program coincided with the first lockdown of the Covid-19 pandemic which allowed Walrond to fully commit to the program, although under tense and unknown circumstances. The program, which was being run online due to restrictions, allowed Walrond to connect and network with like-minded individuals which allowed him to gain perspective and develop strategic business alliances. He was able to develop a new business plan that helped to make improvements and streamline efficiencies within the business operations and ultimately allowed for a successful reopening.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected many, if not all businesses within our region. This is especially evident with the complete and lengthy closure of indoor entertainment venues. For Walrond, it was necessary to understand and work within the public health restrictions, and to expand his services to include home-use rentals like bowling mats, bowling bingo, and board game rentals which could be sanitized once returned. These changes allowed for a vital revenue stream during some of the toughest times. Walrond remains positive and offers this advice to other entrepreneurs struggling through tough times:
“You can’t take all the good times and not expect the bad times. Focus on the knowledge that there will always be better days and that there will always be others to help you when in need. Be kind to those who are struggling and offer help when possible.”
Chasin’ Turkeys can be contacted by phone at (613) 253-0094 or by visiting their website at https://www.chasinturkeys.ca/.
SEPTEMBER- FEATURED BUSINESS
THE PIE BAR
This month’s feature business is The Pie Bar, a small batch bakery located in the charming village of Westport, Ontario. The Pie Bar bakery is owned and operated by Stacy Blair, a Structural Engineer by trade, who reluctantly slipped into the world of baking during her maternity leave in 2013 in order to provide tasty snacks to her hungry husband. Ms. Blair’s husband had worked in a bakery during his youth and was happy to teach her traditional techniques and recipes. Throughout the learning process, Blair fell in love with the process of baking and soon started a blog and Instagram page which amassed a large following.
The Pie Bar business started organically over the years as Blair started bringing her baked goods to local farmers’ markets. In 2019, after many years of trial and error, the business proved to be sustainable, so Blair decided to take leave from her engineering career to pursue her newfound passion. By 2020, Blair and The Pie Bar were successfully providing pre-orders and ready-to-go baked goods to surrounding communities. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the business continued to rally support much to the surprise of Blair and her family. Customers understandably desired access to ready-to-go, delicious, and beautifully crafted comfort foods and The Pie Bar filled that slice of the market.
Stacy Blair was a successful participant and grant recipient of the Starter Company Plus Program organized by the Small Business Advisory Centre of Lanark County/Smiths Falls. Blair found the program beneficial in that she was better able to see the vision of the business and make more strategic decisions, especially regarding finances. When asked what her advice would be for other entrepreneurs, Blair stated:
“If you aren’t happy at your 9 – 5 job, take the leap and jump into small business and make a life worth living. Follow your dreams, take a chance and see where it will bring you.”
The Pie Bar can be found on Instagram at the_pie_bar and on Facebook @ThePieBarCanada. You can also contact Stacy Blair directly on the business phone (613) 453-2647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.