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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.

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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Whitehorse Heart

“Whitehorse Heart is a consulting company dedicated to reinvention and wellbeing from a business, career and physical standpoint. We help you put another oar in the water to make an effective Plan B or help you get a fresh perspective and new direction in your job or career search. If needed, we can guide you to shift your shape physically so that your outside image and your mind’s eye image merge”, says Teri Sanchez. “Since

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Plains To Peaks Chocolate

Plains to Peak Chocolate Company is run by Sunni Sylvester and her husband Jeff. The two did not always have aspirations to make their own chocolate, but like many businesses today, a simple passion and idea can be all it takes to start something great. The direction of your business career can be random, and that is exactly what happened with Sunni and Jeff. “We started randomly. I would buy chocolate, look at the ingredients,

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Stratom

Stratom Inc., founded by Mark Gordon in 2001, is a Boulder-based unmanned robotics engineering and manufacturing firm. Stratom provides integrated solutions and products to government and commercial clients around the globe. Prior to founding Stratom, Mark worked in Sr. Management for various high tech companies. There he witnessed the volatility of the high tech industry and its move to outsource many of its products and services to foreign markets. Mark decided that he wanted to

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Altitude Spirits

In 2004, Matthew Baris and his father conceived of an idea: to start an organic distillery here in Colorado. Colorado is renowned for its variety of large and small local breweries, so they knew they would see some success with a unique idea like theirs. However, neither family member came from an extensive background in business, so they looked to the Boulder Small Business Development Center to help get their idea off the ground. Matt

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AOW Handmade

Annie Oakley Waterman is an entrepreneur and owner of AOW Handmade. AOW Handmade, founded in 2015, is a unique business that connects artisan enterprisers from all over the developing world to buyers in the United States. Whether it is textiles, silver, brass, paper maché or other materials, Annie seeks out socially responsible producers and helps them to sell their products to the western world. Annie’s favorite places to find her goods are in Mexico and

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