Restaurants and Hospitality

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Firefly embraces the concept of comfort dining by offering inspired classic American fare in a warm, inviting atmosphere.

SCORE Mentors The Saucy Chef to Success

What do you do when you're an empty-nester with no business skills who wants to start a business? "I always had a passion for cooking. I taught my kids how to cook. Then I read an article in a women's magazine about chefs who make house calls, and I said, 'That's me!'" remembers Karen Wetch, owner of The Saucy Chef. In 1997 after seeing SCORE mentioned in in an American Personal Chef Association brochure, Karen sought out her local SCORE Chapter.  She was introduced to SCORE mentors Bill Perehudoff and Bill Scown. The combination of Karen’s drive and focus blended with Perehudoff and Scowns business expertise was a winning one and this empty-nester with now business skills is now a successful small business owner. 

Karen Wetch
My Location
Santa Rosa CA
United States
My Successes

In the beginning, Karen cooked once or twice a month for seniors. She used that time to develop a rhythm. Now, she has consistent days she works and consistent clients. She cooks three days a week at most, dedicates one day a week to research and development, and reserves Sundays for paperwork. Along with her newfound business skills and former knowledge, Karen says a good personal chef is organized, personable and resourceful. "I spent six months conducting research, trying freezing and food replacement techniques. I never cook from memory and I always clean up before I leave a client's home.
"Because of the experience she's gaining, Karen not only works for seniors, but also working couples and new parents. In addition, she finds time to enter her new recipes in the local fairs and always walks away with awards. A local paper featured her in an article about personal chefs in June 2000. As her popularity and business grow, she is pondering a different business direction.
Choosing the days and times she works are what she considers the best part about being a small business owner. "I love being personal with a client and bringing joy to people's lives. I'm always looking for a better way of doing things. I love what I do."

What's Great About My Mentor?

Bill Perehudoff and Bill Scown were counselors in Santa Rosa, CA. The former was most helpful because he was a restaurant owner at one time. On the other hand, Bill Scown had never heard of a personal chef. Scown says while Karen did the basic start-up work, he got her to focus on that one slice of the market: seniors. "It's important to find your target and concentrate," he says.
"Karen was a very positive person with a very unique and interesting idea. I live in a retirement community and knew it was a great potential market," says Bill Scown. "Today, if you need cooking help, you can depend on Karen to bail you out."

How SCORE Helped

They advised me on advertising, teaching me that frequency wins out over ad size. I wanted to get into senior communities so they helped me with referrals and taught me patience. It worked and I'm still getting calls today from those original ads," says Karen. “I continue to rely on SCORE’s services. I attended it’s Women in Business conferences in ’98, ’99 and ’00, the latter on the Internet. They keep me abreast of marketing workshops and seminars. I have learned that business is a whole different language-no emotion-just business. That’s very different from the operation of a personal chef.” 

The Treats Truck

For Kim Ima, it was love at first sight – not with a person, but with the idea of the Treats Trucks. Kim wanted to spend her days baking delicious cookies, brownies and other treats and then serve them on the streets of New York, her adopted home town. “It combined my love of baking, my love of treats and my love of the city,” Kim says. “The more I thought about the idea and how it could evolve, the more I wanted to do it.” There was only one problem; Kim had no idea how to get her idea rolling. Kim went to SCORE and researched potential volunteer mentors before she requested a meeting with Elliot Merberg. It was then that Kim’s vision was closer to becoming a reality and ultimately did become just that. 


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Kim Ima
My Location
New York NY
United States
My Successes

Kim literally put the Treats Truck on the road in June 2007. Her treats, prepared in her Brooklyn bakery, immediately became a hit with New Yorkers who now look forward to the arrival of the Treats Truck (nicknamed “Sugar”) in their neighborhoods. Recently, Kim was among several small businesses from across the nation tapped by Visa to be featured in a commercial showcasing the innovation and commitment of entrepreneurs. “I still love seeing my customers and they’re supporting me as best they can, even though they’re dealing with economic problems too,” Kim says. “They want me to succeed because they see me working hard and know that I care about the quality of the food and the Treats Truck experience.”

What's Great About My Mentor?

“I hit the jackpot with Elliot,” Kim says. “His background was ideal for what I needed. Plus, we hit it off personally, which was very important to me. Starting a business is like a cookie recipe. Sometimes a dash of naiveté can be good, but you also need to realize the importance of decisions, because what you’re doing is big. I believed in my idea and Elliot believed in me.”

How SCORE Helped

Kim worked with SCORE mentor Elliot Merberg on a wide range of startup issues and other things she needed to consider as she put together the business plan for Treats Truck. “Sometimes when I met with Elliot and he didn’t know the answer to a question, he simply asked someone else to come over and help us,” Kim says. “There were always plenty of people with specific experience to draw on.”

Merberg also helped Kim manage the emotional ups and downs that come with starting a new business. “When I got over-enthusiastic, such as wanting to start with two trucks, he’d advise me to slow down and focus on starting with one,” Kim says. “When I got frustrated about something and was too hard on myself, he’d show me how things were actually going OK.”



The “Baker’s Muse” Takes Umpleby’s to Another Level

What is Umpleby’s you ask? And who is the baker’s muse? Well, Umpleby’s is Umpleby’s Makers of Fine Baked Goods on South Street in Hanover and the baker’s muse, as she calls herself, is Carolyn Begley, the charming Australian-born wife of baker and shop owner Charles Umpleby. What a team!!

A trained and experienced chef with a dream of running his own bakery, Charles and Carolyn spent several weekends traveling north from their home in Brooklyn looking for the perfect spot. They thought they found it some six years ago and opened their shop in the Bridgewater Mill Mall in Bridgewater, Vermont. The shop was doing well even though the business is that neck of the woods was quite seasonal, but Charles knew he needed some help. So three years into his venture, he turned to SCORE - Counselors to America’s Small Business - and fortunately Ann Hargraves was assigned to be his counselor.

With her strong financial background, Ann knew right away that Charles needed to get his arms around his finances and take advantage of various tax code opportunities that can be instrumental in helping small businesses achieve their objectives.

With the business doing better in Bridgewater, Charles began setting up every Saturday in the summer at the Norwich Farmer’s Market - with Carolyn by his side. The word spread. Umpleby’s was the place to go for exceptional baked goods including various meat pies with Carolyn’s Australian influence.

Then the call came. Dartmouth College was renovating the building at 3 South Street and looking for someone to open a bakery/café. Charles felt it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “Things were going well in Bridgewater, but Hanover is much more cosmopolitan and not as seasonal. I worked with the team at Dartmouth for several months and we opened the new shop and bakery last November.”

While that transition was underway, Charles turned once again to Ann Hargraves at SCORE for some guidance and support. This time, Ann turned to Alice Trent who for years had successfully run Alice’s Bakery in Norwich. Alice was kind enough to advise Charles on what it would take to own a bakery in the Hanover area.

“Alice gave me the confidence to go ahead with the project,” said Charles. “I wasn’t sure that Hanover really needed another bakery and another café, but so far things are all that we could have hoped for. I should mention that Gavin Davis, of Hartland, Vermont, who has been with us over 5 years and is in charge of the bakery, made the move from Bridgewater to Hanover. He’s a key member of our team.”

With an expanded menu to accompany the expanded seating to accompany the expanded hours, the new Umpleby’s is open 7 days a week with growth plans including a light café dinner menu.

You can reach Umpleby’s at 603-643-3030 or visit them on the web at or e-mail them at - or better yet - stop into the shop. It is, after all, a bakery and nothing smells better than a bakery.



Serving up Success: Lavu, Inc. Launches iPad Tableside Order System

When Lavu, Inc.'s three employees engaged with Albuquerque SCORE they were putting the finishing touches on PosLavu, a revolutionary tableside ordering system for restaurants.  But, more than merely a stylish way to take orders, PosLavu's iPad order entry was only part of a robust system that included table management, order entry, communication with the kitchen, multi-course ordering, email receipts and back office restaurant management -- all at an anticipated price point far below competitors' fixed location order management systems.

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My Location
901 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Albuquerque NM 87104
United States
Year Company Formed

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