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Success Stories

Leenie’s Southern Cafe

Conversations, laughter, biscuits and homemade jam melt together at Leenies Southern Café. Established in January 2006, Mel Flores and Eileen Gilmore’s restaurant in Longmont, CO has become a destination for those looking for a classic Southern breakfast and lunch restaurant in Longmont.

The dining area is blanketed in simple white tablecloths and is surrounded by shelves loaded with Leenies jams and dishes while local artisan artwork decorates the walls. The atmosphere is relaxed and the menu features great Southern comfort foods items like fried chicken, homemade biscuits, and grits. Leenies boasts dishes made of preservative-free, fresh food products. The other ingredients of success behind this southern café — Mel and Eileen’s long hours of planning, preparation, and their creative vision – topped off with a little faith.

Mel and Eileen, sought the assistance of the Boulder Small Business Development Center well before Leenies’ start-up to help with corporate set up, assessing their financing options, finding legal resources and consulting help around their business plan. They ended up bootstrapping the venture, raising start up capital through family and found a space that was already set up as a restaurant and had a supportive landlord. They then went to work, putting in sweat equity to remodel the space themselves. Today they are keeping up with growing demand with a full-time staff of four, plus three part-time workers for the busy weekends. They are finding themselves just where they projected they would be in phase II of their business plan.

Soon, customers will be able to eat and sip in the quiet outdoors on a patio they are working to build. They are also planning a home-delivery service to Longmont and the surrounding area residents. Leenies’ jams, seasonings, and syrups will soon be available for sale in their restaurant and will be branded as Sweet South Food Products™. Patrons will be able to bring home the Creole and blackening seasonings, and triple berry, peach and strawberry jams that keep customers coming back for more.

Another differentiator – Mel and Eileen are committed to engaging with their customers and the community. ”We treasure the opportunity we have had to make hundreds of local friends” says Eileen and Mel. “We are a friendly neighborhood restaurant that at the same time offers delicious food. People know we are invested in the community and we want them to know that our taxes, community engagement and energy is committed to Longmont.”

As Mel says this, Eileen catches up with a family of regulars whose toddler whisks away toys Leenies keeps in the corner for patron families. The toddler shouts, “thank you” to Mel and Elieen for the delicious biscuit and jam waiting on his plate.

Grasshaven Outdoor

The media has called her the “Martha Stewart of Camping” and it is a title she proudly wears. Dawn Bitz, founder and majority owner of Grasshaven Outdoor is in business to bring sophistication, style and comfort into our time outdoors through stylish outdoor camping equipment, unique RV housewares and general outdoor fun products. Grasshaven Outdoor also strives to deliver a wealth of great ideas and outdoor recipes. Dawn got her inspiration when, as a busy

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Art Parts Creative Reuse Center

The nonprofit world can be difficult to enter, so when Denise Perreault was in the beginning stages of starting her own nonprofit, Art Parts, she looked to the Boulder Small Business Development Center for guidance. The SBDC helped Denise and her co-founders figure out the most crucial aspects of their new business. “In our four-year founding and planning phase, the most daunting task was setting a realistic budget, as we had no experience there. The

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Black Swift Technologies

Boulder-based company Black Swift Technologies was founded by three PhD students from the University of Colorado. The three men were inspired to start the company from their work in the field during their studies. At CU, they learned how to chase storms and collect data using old military equipment, which is relatively complicated to use. They set out to simplify the process with unmanned aircraft systems and Black Swift Technologies was born. Although they are

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Icebox Knitting

Icebox Knitting is an outdoor lifestyle manufacturing company based out of Longmont. Icebox emerged from its parent company, Alpine knitting in 1993. Initially located on Seventh and Walnut street in Boulder, Icebox has been around for over two decades. Icebox Knitting has two core brand lines, Dohm and Xob. Dohm is a traditional yet vibrant textile brand, made from yarn imported from Italy. Xob’s line is sustainably created from upcycled materials. Initially, to create Xob’s

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Ku Cha House of Tea

Originally from China, husband and wife entrepreneurial team, Qin Liu and Rong Pan graduated from the Leeds School of Business at Colorado University with the dream of starting their own company. The original business idea was from Qin’s Business Plan Preparation class while enrolled in CU. In 2005, they launched their business, drawing upon the 5000-year-old tradition of drinking tea. In 2007, Qin and Rong changed the company’s original name from “The Leaf – All

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Bookcliff Vinyards

“We like drinking wine!” was the simple and honest reason that Ulla Merz and her husband John Garlich decided to open a winery and vineyard. “We started collecting wine in the 1970’s and grew grapes in our backyard. In 1994 we took grape growing and wine making classes and bought a vineyard in an area of Palisade called the Vinelands. That’s where we planted our first grapes in 1996. Bookcliff Vineyards was launched in 1999

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