There’s one little issue - it’s expensive to get started. So, what’s a restaurant visionary to do? Go to Kickstarter!
That’s what Sheryl Strong and her fellow foodies, Rob Mackey and Anne-Marie Szabo are doing, as they seek to open up a new breakfast restaurant called The Local in Prescott. Strong, as you may remember, was the creator of the original Firehouse Kitchen, teaming up at the time with Mackey as Executive Chef. The Firehouse Kitchen was highly regarded, winning several awards and accolades. In April of 2008, Arizona Highways named the Firehouse Kitchen as one of the top 25 restaurants in Arizona.
Always adventurous, Strong sold the Firehouse Kitchen and tested her skills in other areas. But her heart kept pulling her back to the idea of opening another restaurant, and when the opportunity offered itself to team up with Mackey again, well, Strong decided to go for it.
Scouting around, they found a great location in downtown Prescott. Unfortunately, it’s not currently a restaurant, and will have to be outfitted basically from scratch. That means ovens, stoves, ventilation systems and much more. That also means money - a lot of it.
So, they went online and headed over to Kickstarter, where they set up an ambitious project goal: To raise $175,000 in 30 days. Gulp!
For those not familiar with Kickstarter, it works like this: People pitch a project online, and set a goal of what it will take to make the project a reality. The project is only funded if all the money is pledged in the timeframe allowed. It’s a way for small investors to have a part in a project.
People then come to their Kickstarter project page, and pledge a certain amount - in this case, anywhere from $10 - $5000. There are rewards for backers - names inscribed on their Wall, tickets for breakfast or lunch, a chance to participate in their pre-opening practice runs.
The money raised for The Local will be used for kitchen equipment, permits, plates and decor. According to Strong, they expect the buildout alone to cost more than $60,000. Add to that the kitchen equipment, tables, booths, chairs and lighting and you’re looking at over $100K. That’s before the government gets their share in permitting and licensing fees, which add up quickly. All in all, $175,000 is a realistic expectation of what it will cost to open a new eatery in Prescott.
Kickstarter will only collect the pledges and fund the project if the goal of $175,000 or more is raised, which is kind of a big risk for Strong and her team. The $175,000 is in addition to their own money that they are contributing, which will be used for operating expenses.
“I know it is,” Strong said. “But we wanted it to be all or nothing. If you try to start up a restaurant without enough funds, it will fail."
"Banks aren’t loaning money any more, especially for restaurants,” Strong said. “Money is really hard to come by, and so, if a community wants something, like a restaurant or a business, or to provide something for a community, then this is the way a community can come together and support it."
About the Food
There are interviews that are just conversations, and then there are interviews that more like show and tell. I’m happy to say that this was one of the “show and tell” type interviews, albeit a bit impromptu.
Strong started out with a homemade English muffin with carrot cake jam. Oh, my! The English muffin was terrific, and the carrot cake jam was absolutely addictive.
Next up was a cheese pimento dip, which The Local will use in a variety of ways. I tasted it on crackers, but Strong also described using it on a broiled turkey melt sandwich.
I was also given the opportunity to taste a few other items, which may or may not find their way to The Local’s menu. I cheerfully report that everything I tasted was absolutely excellent.
Strong and her team are clear on one thing. The food served at The Local will be fresh, as “unprocessed” as possible, made from scratch and definitely extra-ordinary. They will only use olive oil and coconut oil, organic flour. They will offer gluten-free products. They plan to use local beef, local eggs.
“We’re going to do stuff you’re not going to see on anyone else’s menu,” Strong said, with her words tumbling over one another in her excitement. "We’re going to have sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes. We’re going to smash potatoes first, and then put them in a pan and fry them… Nobody’s doing sweet potatoes like that. We call them Smashers. We’re going to have oatcakes and flatcakes for pancakes. We’re making our English muffins from scratch… We’re going to have a breakfast pot pie. We’re going to have huevos ranchos like never before.”
“You’re going to walk in, and you’re going to feel really good when you walk through that door. We’ve thought of all the details, the music we’re going to have, the chairs, the tables, the ambiance. We just want people to come in and be happy,” Strong said.
They will only be open for breakfast and lunch, with perhaps an occasional dinner here and there. This will allow the facility to be free for things like cooking classes in the evenings, something Szabo is very excited about doing. They also might host private parties for special events.
Their tagline is: The Local: Great food… Naturally.
Note, even the plates are made of bamboo. How fun is that?
How You Can Help Make The Local a Reality
Go to the Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/449432394/the-local-great-food-naturally?ref=nav_search
Choose the amount you want to donate, anywhere from $1up. That’s it. Your donation will only be collected if enough money is pledged to meet the goal.
Click here to see the rewards offered: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/449432394/the-local-great-food-naturally/pledge/new?clicked_reward=false&ref=nav_search