For the last three years, the Enterprise Challenge, a business plan competition organized by New Vision, the Yakima County economic development arm, sought out potential and developing businesses.
Many of the contestants have been businesses offering food and drink venues and products. Some, like Tieton Farm & Creamery, were existing businesses lookings to update their business plans. But many other contestants came to the Enterprise Challenge with just their dreams and an idea.
The big question is whether the business idea crafted by contestants during the competition becomes a reality. New Vision does its part by offering classes, mentors and other resources to help contestants figure out what it takes to design a good business plan.
But what happens when the contest is long over?
I recently caught up with three former Enterprise Challenge contestants to find out.
Créme, a French-inspired patisserie, was a finalist in 2011. Erin and Brandon Luke looked to open a downtown cafe where people could enjoy artisan desserts, coffee and wine.
When I caught up with Erin Luke last week, I found the business had gone in a different direction. Instead of a cafe, Créme is now selling pastries and other sweets wholesale. Customers include Treveri Cellars and Gilbert Cellars, where Luke works as assistant tasting manager.
“It came down to time and money,” she said. “(A cafe is) still something we want to do in the future, but right now the flexibility of doing Créme on the wholesale side better fits our lifestyle.”
Luke said Créme has built a loyal clientèle that not only include wineries but their patrons.
The wholesale business provides a good foundation should they decide to go back to the cafe concept, Luke said.
“It’s a great way for us to polish and experiment (with) our menu,” she said. “We can find out what people like and what we like to make.”
Hop Central Brewing Co. won second place at the Enterprise Challenge in 2011.
It also received a lot of buzz for its planned location next to the Yakima Sports Center in downtown Yakima.
For now, co-owner Karl Vanevenhoven is still working at his idea. Some progress has been made, particularly in designing the equipment for the brewery. But a handful of things, including new work duties for Vanevenhoven at his current job in the hop industry and a new job for his wife, Carol, have delayed the process.
“We’re still moving forward with it,” he said. “(But) we’re still a ways out.”
Christine Roberts literally jumped when her business plan for The Drawing Board Public House earned second place in 2012.
Roberts planned to open the business, a traditional pub offering artisan meats and cheeses along with beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages, this month.
But Roberts encountered some delays getting the necessary equipment. Her new target is to open by next spring. In the meanwhile, she has continued to look at potential sites for the pub and to secure equipment.
“We thought spring is a good time to open a venue” like The Drawing Board Public House, she said.
Did you notice?
• Downtown mainstay Bob’s Keg & Cork is staying put. The pub previously had planned to move across the street to the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight station, but owner Bob Hargreaves said the cost to renovate the space was too high, so the pub will remain at 27 N. Front St.
Hargreaves has mixed feelings. Regulars know the current spot well, he notes. But he laments missing out on some of the perks of moving to the new place, such as outdoor seating.
Hargreaves is looking at other spots but wants to remain in the Front Street Historic District.
• The Golden Coin Chinese Restaurant has a new name and owner. Diep Miller recently reopened the restaurant as the Koi Asian Bistro. The restaurant will offer a variety of Chinese, Vietnamese and American items, said Mary Corral, Miller’s daughter, who helped open the restaurant. (Several other family members also work there).
The restaurant has been remodeled and the menu includes a wide array of offerings including vegetarian dishes. More dishes will be added over time, Corral said.
The restaurant at 1606 W. Nob Hill Blvd. has continued to offer the buffet that the Golden Coin offered but plans to phase it out, Corral said. It also sells pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup the Golden Coin sold alongside the buffet.
Hours for the restaurant are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
• Mai Hoang can be reached at 509-759-7851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.