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Business Pulse 3-1-15
Chef bar area
A new restaurant called The Chef And His Crew is about three weeks away from opening at Plaza Shopping Center. Pictured is the bar area, which will be separate from the main dining room.

I drink a cup of coffee just about every day with varying degrees of enjoyment. Sometimes the coffee is a rich, tasty blend. Other times not so much.
I’ve often thought about ways to improve my coffee drinking experience, but I’ve never thought that eating my coffee cup would be the way to do it. That’s probably why I’m not a marketing executive at KFC.
In case you missed it, KFC announced Thursday it plans to introduce a 100 percent edible chocolate coffee cup. Customers can drink their coffee then devour the cup. What a concept!
According to KFC, the outside shell of the cup will be like a hard biscuit. The inside will be lined with a layer of white chocolate. To create this concept, KFC consulted with The Robin Collective, the company which brought us the edible spoon. I used to have an edible spoon for myself, but I ate it.
The Robin Collective admits the edible cups are a work in progress and probably wouldn’t work well with piping, hot coffee because they would break down too quickly. My concern is if the chocolate cups are really that delicious, I’d eat the cup before I drank the coffee. Then what?
This is just a thought, but maybe KFC would be better served by making its food more edible, not its dinnerware. I’m more concerned with how the chicken tastes, not the plate.

It’s time to shop McMinnville

With retailers across the nation struggling because the snow and ice have kept shoppers at home, the McMinnville-Warren County Chamber of Commerce has taken action.
Through the Chamber’s encouragement, the city board has passed a proclamation declaring this week, March 1-7, as Shop Across McMinnville Week.
Personally, I think of every week as Shop Across McMinnville Week as I like to spend money with my friends and neighbors right here in town. Even though I make it a habit, it never hurts to publicize the need to shop at home and I believe Shop Across McMinnville Week serves as an appropriate reminder.
The Chamber points out that local businesses still incur expenses, even when many of their customers are stuck at home due to bad weather. As a guy who put myself through high school and college working at restaurants, I know January and February are the worst times of year for the restaurant industry, especially cold, dreary nights in January and February.
Make an effort to spend money at home. It’s a great message to remember this week and beyond.

Let there be produce

Few things bring joy and happiness like fresh produce. Kimberly Roller realizes this and that’s why she’s opened a produce market in Mt. Leo at the old Smith Brothers Barber Shop location.
Kimberly’s father, Danny Roller, has sold produce for years on Sparta Highway near Eastside. This will be that same delicious produce, only available in a much more comfortable environment.
“It’s been a good business, but this is the first time we’ve had any real overhead,” said Kimberly, who said the Collier family was very generous to allow them to use their land on the highway free of charge. “With my dad getting older, this will be a much better environment for him.”
Kimberly said setting up on the side of the road isn’t exactly a barrel of monkeys in the 95-degree heat. Nor is it fun for the whole family in frigid 30-degree weather. Thus, they came up with the idea to move the produce market indoors and the old barbershop in Mt. Leo seems like a great fit.
“The shelf life of a cantaloupe at 90 degrees is about one day,” said Kimberly. “This will also keep the produce out of the elements and really cut down on waste.”
As for her inventory, Kimberly said tomatoes are a year-round hit. She sells a large bowl for $3, which she says is a popular price. Apples, oranges, potatoes, and peanuts are other items currently in stock. When in season, she says peaches are a huge seller, as are watermelon and cantaloupe.
“I started out doing this to help my dad, but he’s really the one who is helping me,” said Kimberly. She said plants are another item she expects to add in the spring, along with fruit baskets.
The produce market is open six days a week.

New restaurant makes strides

I’ve received several questions about the new restaurant that’s going into the old Peking location at Plaza Shopping Center. With that in mind, here's this update.
Since I last stopped in two months ago, tremendous progress has been made at the restaurant which will be called The Chef And His Crew. In talking with owner Arcadio Ramirez on Friday, he said he is well pleased with how renovation efforts are shaping up.
He said he’s been flooded with people seeking employment since he displayed his help wanted sign and plans to hire about 20 servers and eight to 10 cooks. A veteran of the restaurant industry, he says he wants to be loaded for bear on opening day because he knows how a bad first impression can be catastrophic.
The restaurant will offer a wide menu selection at what Arcadio says will be affordable prices. Anyone familiar with the building layout knows the dining area is spacious. It’s so large, a separate spot is being designated as a bar area so families won’t have to mingle with customers who are drinking if they don’t want to.
Arcadio says it’s difficult to put an exact date on when he will be open because there are still a few major things to do, but he thinks three weeks is a reasonable ballpark figure. Be on the lookout.

Trendy Trunk a neat boutique

The cozy Rock Island retail district has a new store with the opening of The Trendy Trunk on Friday. Store owner Ann Hawkins has spent nearly two years as a vendor at The Lazy Daisy, also in Rock Island, before deciding to go out on her own.
The Trendy Trunk is primarily a boutique, but it has an assortment of other items such as jewelry and rustic décor. Ann says she plans to offer woodworking from the Sassy Springs Workshop in Morrison and other booth space is available.
“I try to carry what’s trending and I have all sizes, even the plus sizes,” said Ann, who said she’s been dragging her sons around to clothing shows for over a decade.
I think The Trendy Trunk fits in nicely with all the antique stores in Rock Island. The community had five stores at one time, had dropped down to three, and now has four with the opening of The Trendy Trunk.
The store is located on the right as soon as you drive past the Rock Island sign. It occupies half of the cabin-looking building with the other half remaining vacant. A patio with tables separates the two buildings.
The other half is set up for a restaurant and an ice cream shop would be a big hit simply because people love ice cream. When folks pack into the state park during the summer, an ice cream shop would be a happening place. Just think of how people have embraced Topz on Main Street.
If you’re in the Rock Island area, pop in and give Ann’s store a try. She has a unique story, ending a 16-year manufacturing career to open the business.
“Spending 16 years building caskets is long enough,” said Ann, who didn’t want to mention her former employer by name. “The work got harder and harder and employees were expected to do more and more.”
The Trendy Trunk is open Monday thru Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached at 686-7544.

Onin hiring for Jarden

If you look in the Classified section of today’s edition, there are jobs to be had everywhere. I mean everywhere.
I was contacted by Onin Staffing on Friday and asked if I would mention there are immediate openings for jobs at Jarden. If you’re interested in gainful employment, you can stop by Onin Staffing on Monday and be working for Jarden later in the week.
With income tax checks beginning to come in, I think just about everyone is hungry for workers. We all know some people don’t like to work if they have money in their pocket so it will probably be tough sailing until all that income tax money is spent.
Onin is located at 1041 Sparta Street. The phone number is 474-6616. Anyone who refers a person who works 80 hours at Jarden will receive a $25 gift card.

Start thinking Bluegrass Underground

The three-day taping of Bluegrass Underground is set for March 27-29 at Cumberland Caverns. That means Warren County has almost one month to prepare for the arrival of over 1,000 tourists in our community.
I mention this now so local business owners aren’t caught off guard at the last minute. Now is the time to start thinking about ways we can cater to all these people converging on our community looking to spend money. We know they’re going to want to go out to eat, but they’re also going to want to shop and do other things when they’re not in a cave.
As Downtown Business Association president Kristy Ross told me last week, “There’s no reason everyone with a sign shouldn’t have ‘Welcome Bluegrass Underground’ on it.”
I can only make humble suggestions from this tiny perch of mine. But I think it would be great if community business leaders coordinated a plan to cater to Bluegrass Underground visitors while they are in town.

That’s all folks

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