I’m entering a contest for 250,000 smackers. I need 250 votes to get to the next round. If I do, I promise – MORE PARTIES FOR EVERYONE!!
You gotta log in and give up your e-mail address, and then put in Plant Based Parties, Los Angeles, CA, and I’ll pop up. You can vote for as many folks as you like! I included the answers from my app below in case you need a reason to fund me. here’s the link https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/ and thanks in advance for taking the trouble to support me!
Tell us about your business; how successful is it and why is it unique?
My name is Jennie and I’m the cook. I’ve been the owner and Chef de Cuisine of the Bucks County Corporation since the summer of 1985. four locations and one restaurant later, my business resides in a lovely commissary in Glassell Park, Los Angeles. I have always been food curious and a steward of the earth. I incorporated health consciousness and sustainability into my business practices since the very beginning, long before it was popular.
When I had my restaurant, The Double Dutch in Culver City from 1997 through 2008, I had monthly community suppers that were completely vegan. They sold out every time! Again, we were trending before people knew how to pronounce “vegan”. The dinners had regulars and fresh guests every time, and each meal was eye opening for most with the splendor and deliciousness of a plant-based meal.
Owning and operating a restaurant was the learning experience of a lifetime. Crazy employees, hiring family, drunken chefs, are all par for the course and not so unique. I did everything I could to keep it going for ten good years before I moved on. Everything they say about having a restaurant is true. That restaurant wrung me out. I survived and I did it well. That is unique!
When 2008 rolled around, I closed up the Double Dutch and moved to my side of town. I rented a new catering commissary 2 miles from my house. I was in restaurant recovery despite my great new digs, and didn’t know what to do with all my free time. I started an elite home delivery service with local organic food sourcing. This was my original business venture back in the 80’s so I revived the old name – “Personalized Cuisine”. I carry a handful of clients every week and I still cook for my first 2 clients! And yet, I needed something more. A viewing with my Johnny of “Forks Over Knives” 2 years ago, led us into a vegan challenge for 6 weeks. I kept it up for about 6 months, he still does. It got me thinking… the time is right for a Jennie Cooks division featuring the goodness of the vegan diet, and “Plant Based Parties” was hatched. We launched quietly with a website and a blog, and had a grand opening party last summer. It was a huge success and the division is growing daily with queries from plant based bride and grooms, conscientious corporations, non profits and lots of moms. It’s a wonder to see it come to life, and a joy because it ignites my passion.
How is your business involved with the community you serve?
I’m a big believer in community. I think rebuilding our communities is a big part of the answer for the resurgence of the American way. Learning to care for our neighbors is a lost art and food, sharing meals specifically, is a part of that art. Since 2008, I’ve been an active participant in food education. I started the culinary program at the 24th Street Elementary School and taught classes every week for three years. I created a Mystery Lunch Box Challenge for High School kids. It’s three sessions with 15 vegetables, 30 teenagers, master chefs and fry pans. I taught it at Jefferson High and Crenshaw High. The results are always the same, confident young chefs emerge. I’ve been involved with Root Down LA for several years as a board member / mentor. I’m an active member of my time bank, an alternative economy in Echo Park. It’s been a great way to keep in touch with twenty somethings in the neighborhood, and get a different perspective as well as great services. For the past 4 years, I’ve had a “Make It and Take It” pie party the Sunday before Thanksgiving. About 100 folks come and make their holiday pies. It’s been likened to a pie baking flash mob – good times for all involved.
Last year, I led a group of concerned citizens and parents for better lunches in LAUSD as a founding member of the group foodforlunch.org. We had success in the demise of chocolate milk, had fun playing with Jamie Oliver and I learned bunches about community organizing and the power of showing up.
I realize the question is about my business, but really, I am my business. It has been a joy to be out in the community educating our youth about the power of food, and how to make it delicious. We all need to eat more meals together, I can help with that.
What would a $250k grant mean to your business plan and how will you utilize the funds to ensure long-term growth and stability?
I can think of many, many ways this grant would liberate the thinking of my ten year plan. at the top of my list would be to commence community suppers on a regular basis immediately. As a Master Food Preserver, I could host more classes (another passion) and spread the word about safe and effective home preservation. I would invest in a low emission, alternative fuel vehicle for deliveries increasing our reach and capacity (the servers use their own cars right now). I would also invest in my staff. I often see opportunities for higher learning that are out of my fiscal reach for my staff and myself. Having a fund for education would be phenomenal. I’d also like to offer an insurance plan, or at the very least, medical reimbursement for everyone. Investing in my staff would increase loyalty and commitment. I would invest the funds as well for future use, I’d make it last. After twenty seven years in business, I see the opportunity here, and I wouldn’t blow it. Fifteen years ago, it would have been a different story – as I’ve said, I have learned many lessons.
What types of challenges can you identify with your plan and how will you overcome them?
To be honest, the idea of $250,000 in my bank account makes me all kinds of giddy. Talk about winning the lottery. That would be a challenge. I would need to talk to my Johnny and he’ll remind me of the sensible way to tend to such a gift. I’m smart. I would make it last. It will be difficult, because I love to shop, but I can do it - and I can do it well. I have reduced my need to earn over the past few years. I have survived the recession. I have crawled out of a $365,000 debt. I refused to declare bankruptcy, I held onto my key employees. I would welcome the challenges with open arms, oodles of experience and the savvy business sense of a survivor.
Describe the talent on your team and how they make your business successful.
I’d be nothing without my staff. eighteen years ago, I wooed a salad chef at a back yard barbecue who is still with me today. He’s been through the restaurant and 2 catering locations. He has an excellent palate and has stuck by me through the hard times. He is a loyal and dedicated employee and knows just how I like it. And if he doesn’t know how I like it, he’ll use his best judgment and knock it out of the park. He’s my number one guy. Chef Pepe.
I have my Sheila. She’s an artist and a true hospitality professional. Nobody loves a challenge like my Sheila. When I have that nudge of a client, or the one who just doesn’t seem happy, we send in my Sheila. She makes everything better than good.
Mr. Gio is an old high school friend of my daughter’s. He tells me all the time this job saved his life. I have no doubt that it has. He does a solid job for Jennie Cooks but I can’t help but want to push him out of the nest. While he continues to learn where his strength lie and that this is it, the real show, I will continue to offer him opportunities to grow and learn as a hospitality professional.
My staff is amazing. They are gifted in the art of hospitality. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be with the company. They deserve more than I can offer them right now.
I wrapped it up saying I was deserving and a little more blah blah blah… dang this would change my life!