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Up In Your Business Home PageAbout Kerry McCoy

The Root Cafe

December 30, 2016

Kerry’s guest this week is Jack Sundell of The Root Cafe

Jack Sundell’s young life experiences led him to open The Root Café in 2011. The Root Café’s intimate atmosphere was inspired by his volunteerism with the Peace Corp and the idea for locally sourced foods was inspired by his work with Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas.

The Root Café mission statement is “Building Community through Local Food” and according to Sundell “It means everything!” The ideals behind the phrase are strengthening the local food economy by supporting Arkansas farmers and producers, educating consumers about the positive economic and environmental impact of local purchasing and fostering a sense of pride in Little Rock and Arkansas.

The Root Café has been recognized with national awards, a $25,000 grant voted on by viewers of HLN’s “Growing America: A Journey to Success” and a $150,000 grant from Chase’s Mission Main Street Project. The Food Network has also visited The Root Café, with Simon Majumdar helping to judge a “Traditional Pie Bake-off” at the event.

Sundell will talk about the challenges of finding local products and keeping them in steady supply, the challenges of running a restaurant and juggling his family and work life as well as answer listener questions. Jack’s wife Corri is also his business partner and they have 3 children making The Root Cafe a truly family business. Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com

 

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EPISODE 16

 

[INTRODUCTION]

 

[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.

 

Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.

 

[INTERVIEW]

 

[0:00:03.2] TB: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Be sure to stay tuned till the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents. Now, it’s time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.

 

[0:00:19.0] KM: Hello! You’re listening to KABF in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m Kerry McCoy, and it’s time for me to get all up in your business. For the next hour, my guest and I will be having a conversation of curiosity and storytelling. You may be asking yourself right now, “What makes this lady qualified to do this?” I’ll tell you, experience. My experience is deep and wide and my advice is free.

 

40 years ago with just $400 I started Arkansas Flag & Banner. Since then it’s morphed into simply flagandbanner.com with sales nearing 4 million. That’s worth saying again. I started Arkansas Flag & Banner with just $400 and today we have sales nearing 4 million. I started by selling flags door-to-door, then went to telemarketing, next, mail ordering, catalog sales, and today we rely heavily on the internet.

 

In addition, over the last 40 years, I’ve navigated Flag & Banner through two recessions and two wars. When people find out I’m that women who owns Arkansas Flag & Banner they often say, “Oh, I’ve heard about,” and begin asking me business advice. I amaze even myself with all the knowledge I’ve gained.

 

If you call me for advice, or my guest, you will not be given textbook answers or theory, but you will be given candid advice from real-world experience. Be prepared for the truth. It’s not always easy to hear. For instance, you may not want to hear this. In business, there are very few overnight successes. Starting and owning a business takes persistence, perseverance, and patience.

 

When I started Arkansas Flag & Banner, I supplemented my income by waitressing all while I pedaled my flags door-to-door. After nine years. Did you hear me? Nine years of working a part-time job, the company began to grow and solely support me. My first hire was a bookkeeper. My first expansion was to begin the manufacturing of custom flags. The next decade ushered in Desert Storm War, flags were scarce, so a screen printing department was hardly built to meet the consumers’ demands.

 

In addition to sales and manufacturing, Flag & Banner now has a purchasing department, a shipping department, a technology department, marketing department, call center, and retail store, and I spearheaded each of these developments. My experience is deep and wide and my advice is free. I hope you’ll take advantage of this unique opportunity by calling or emailing me on today’s show.

 

Before we start taking calls and talking to our guest, I want to introduce the people at the table. We have Tim Bowen, our technician, who will be taking your calls and pushing the buttons. Say hello, Tim.

 

[0:02:53.6] TB: Hello, Tim.

 

[0:02:55.5] KM: My guest today is the infamous, Jack Sundell, owner and founder of the very celebrated Root Café in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. Jack’s background was not grounded in restaurant experience as you might think, but rather in service work. While working for the people the Peace Corps in Morocco he fell in love with their cafes and saw how they were an integral part of the Moroccans social life.

 

Back in the states, he volunteered for Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas. There he learned to practice a farm-to-table eating and living. These two very different worlds collided in an idea and became Jack’s passion that we know today as the Root Café. With a sign on the wall that says, “Building community through local food.”

 

Welcome to the table, Jack Sundell.

 

[0:03:47.9] JS: Thanks for having me, Kerry.

 

[0:03:48.4] KM: You’re welcome. What a ride your 20s must have been. It says you bounced around. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

 

[0:03:54.6] JS: I’ve bounced around. It was like Michael Jordan was dribbling me.

 

[0:03:59.7] KM: Today, I want to talk about the Peace Corps, the Heifer Ranch, the Root Café, nepotism, because you work with your family. Before we get on every one of those, I saw you went to Hendricks College.

 

[0:04:11.0] JS: That’s right. Yeah. I went to Hendricks. Gosh! What a great school. I was from a small town in Arkansas, Monticello, and went to Governor’s School in 11th grade and just had this wonderful experience where I met people like me, sort of forward thinking for the first time and found that there were other people my age who had interest besides football and cheerleading. I went back to Hendricks after I graduated. Such an incredible school. It gave me a great education, great foundation and learning how to learn, and then also the opportunity to study abroad which I did. I studied in France for a year, then after I got back from there, I finished at Hendricks and moved to New York City. I had a grandfather living there and they lived in New York for two years, went to — First, to an English teaching school. The goal was to become an English teacher, and then once I finished that program I realized I would make enough money to support myself in New York by teaching English, or at least the way I was looking at it at the time. I went to bartending school and —

 

[0:05:16.4] KM: They make money.

 

[0:05:17.4] JS: They do, but I wasn’t able to get a job as a bartender. Well, it’s a tough market up there and there are a lot of bartenders looking for work, there’s a lot of competition. I didn’t have any experience in bartending. I got a job as a waiter at a restaurant and worked there for about a year and a half.

 

[0:05:36.5] KM: You do have a little waiter experience, a little restaurant experience.

 

[0:05:39.2] JS: Yeah. I’ve got a descent amount of restaurant experience. I worked at Dixie Café in Conway for about nine days. I still hold the record for the most number of dropped drink glasses at one time.

 

[0:05:52.8] KM: You couldn’t get a bartending job, which I’ve never heard anybody not being able to get a bartending job, but okay. I guess there’s a lot of actors wanting bartender jobs.

 

[0:06:01.7] JS: Right. If you’ve got experience, I think it’s a lot easier. Maybe I was looking in the wrong places, but I was looking for the kind of bartending job I would want to have, and I guess that’s the kind of bartending jobs that everyone would want to have.

 

[0:06:14.4] KM: You came back to Little Rock, or you joined the Peace Corps.

 

[0:06:16.8] JS: After that I moved to Michigan, and I lived in Michigan for a year. Ooutside of Traverse City, there is a small liberal arts boarding high school called Interlochen.

 

[0:06:27.3] KM: I know Interlochen.

 

[0:06:28.1] JS: Do you know Interlochen?

 

[0:06:28.5] KM: I visited — Gray thought about going there, one of my sons. It is a very interesting place.

 

[0:06:32.5] JS: Beautiful. Yup. They have an enormous summer camp and I had worked there as a cabin counselor a couple of summers during college. Then after Hendricks and after New York City, I decided to be a hall counselor there during the school year. It was kind of my place to —

 

[0:06:49.9] KM: Do you play  music?

 

[0:06:51.2] JS: I do. Yeah, I play guitar and harmonica, sing.

 

[0:06:54.0] KM: Because Interlochen is a very musical school, isn’t it?

 

[0:06:57.6] JS: It is. They don’t do folk music, but they have — Yeah, classical music, jazz. They have creative writing, theater, ballet. It’s a great, wonderful place.

 

[0:07:08.3] KM: You got a summer job there.

 

[0:07:09.6] JS: Well, summer job and then a full school year job as well as a hall counselor, because it’s a boarding school and it was a great place to kind of recover from New York City, out in the woods for a year, three feet in snow.

 

[0:07:23.5] KM: And away from all that bars and alcohol and kind of regroup.

 

[0:07:26.7] JS: That’s right. They don’t have there. They have taverns.

 

[0:07:29.1] KM: Oh, they do?

 

[0:07:29.9] JS: Yeah. Rural Michigan.

 

[0:07:33.1] KM: How long did you stay there? A year and a half you said.

 

[0:07:35.5] JS: There for one school year.

 

[0:07:37.1] KM: You’re probably 26-ish now?

 

[0:07:38.9] JS: Gosh! Who knows? I guess I was around probably 25, I think. When I joined the Peace Corps, I think I was about to turn 25.

 

[0:07:47.3] KM: What was the deciding factor that made you decide you want to join the Peace Corps?

 

[0:07:51.6] JS: I think both my parents were in the Peace Corps. They actually met in the Peace Corps. They were both volunteers in Tunisia in the early 60s. The way my dad tells it, they met on a camel ride. I don’t know if that’s true or not.

 

[0:08:05.8] KM: It’s so romantic. I love it.

 

[0:08:08.1] JS: Anyway, I had grown up with that legacy in the family and I think somewhere in the back of my mind I always kind of thought when I got out of college at some point I would like to do the Peace Corps. It’s an incredible experience. I was in Morocco for two years and it’s a great way to see another country, to learn a foreign language.

 

[0:08:32.1] KM: They speak Spanish?

 

[0:08:33.6] JS: No. They speak Arabic there.

 

[0:08:35.6] KM: That’s not even the same characters we have. How do you even learn a language like that?

 

[0:08:40.4] JS: We didn’t do as much reading and writing, but we learned they have a dialect of Arabic called Darija. I didn’t know this before I went, but every country in the Arab world and North Africa has its own spoken dialect of Arabic. If you go to Morocco you’ll hear a different language than you hear in Tunisia, or Egypt, or Saudi Arabia. What connects all of them is that the written language is classical Arabic. It’s the Arabic, the old Arabic of the Koron.

 

In every country, the spoken language has evolved while the written language has been kept the same at it was a thousand years ago.

 

[0:09:24.3] KM: It’s like the north and south. They don’t say y’all up there.

 

[0:09:27.8] JS: Yeah, it’s a lot more different than that though.

 

[0:09:30.3] KM: They don’t say fixin’. They’re not fixin’ to do anything.

 

[0:09:33.2] JS: In some cases, the different Arabic dialects are not even mutually comprehensible. Yeah, they’re quite different from each other.

 

[0:09:39.9] KM: You went to the Peace Corps because it’s kind of in the family DNA. Your family has a history of service.

 

[0:09:47.3] JS: You could say that. Yeah.

 

[0:09:47.8] KM: I think restaurants are very service oriented too.

 

[0:09:50.0] JS: Oh, they’re completely service oriented.

 

[0:09:51.7] KM: You went to Hendricks, and what did you major in there?

 

[0:09:55.5] JS: I majored in international relations and global studies.

 

[0:09:59.4] KM: That worked out really well for you, didn’t it?

 

[0:10:01.1] JS: It did. The thing is that when I went there, I graduated in 2000 and that was still considered an interdisciplinary major. They hadn’t really created an international relations degree. It was —

 

[0:10:15.9] KM: They’re always slow. Colleges are a little behind on where we should be sometimes, I think. You’re like, “Hey! We need to learn computers now, guys.” 

 

[0:10:23.1] JS: The great thing about Hendricks is that if you wanted to do something like that, you could create your own major and then you just had to get it approved even if it wasn’t one they already offered.

 

[0:10:31.5] KM: That is very liberal artsy.

 

[0:10:33.8] JS: It is. Yeah. This was really the epitome of liberal arts degree because I got to take 12 classes from 12 different disciplines, it was like Buddhism and gender and family, and French language, and just all kinds of — It’s kind of like an undecided major.

 

[0:10:51.1] KM: Yup. When you went to Governor School — It’s at Hendricks, if our listeners didn’t know. That’s how you ended up at Hendricks. Governor School is at Hendricks. You kind of have to pick — I don’t want to say a degree, but you have to pick up something you’re interested so you know which group to put you. My son did music, and the other son did arts. What did you do? 

 

[0:11:09.5] JS: I did natural science.

 

[0:11:11.1] KM: Oh, you did science.

 

[0:11:12.4] JS: Mm-hmm. My dad is a botanist, and so that seemed like the natural path to go into —

 

[0:11:19.2] KM: I just want to tell everybody that’s listening, you are a cool dude.

 

[0:11:22.6] JS: Thanks.

 

[0:11:23.5] KM: You are.

 

[0:11:23.9] JS: I have a blue Mohawk, also.

 

[0:11:26.0] KM: Do you really? No, you do not. I’m looking for it.

 

[0:11:28.4] JS: No. I was thinking that the radio listeners wouldn’t know about if I did or not.

 

[0:11:32.1] KM: Oh! I busted you out. I’m sorry.

 

[0:11:33.3] JS: Oh! Come on, Kerry.

 

[0:11:34.4] KM: I’m sorry.

 

[0:11:35.1] JS: How am I supposed to be a cool dude without a blue Mohawk?

 

[0:11:37.5] KM: Well, you are almost 40. You’re not supposed to have a blue Mohawk. They’ll think it’s just gray hair.

 

[0:11:42.1] JS: I do have a diamond student leather on.

 

[0:11:45.1] KM: Oh! Okay, right. All right. How did you come home? You came home from Morocco.

 

[0:11:53.6] JS: By airplane.

 

[0:11:54.0] KM: Thank you. You ended up going to Heifer straight away or you came back and lived with mom in Monticello, floundered around? 

 

[0:12:02.6] JS: I came back and I went on a road trip with my brother. We went down to Austin, Texas and came back through New Orleans after Katrina had happened. Yeah, it was a real interesting road trip, but then that was — I think we’re on the road for about three weeks or a month, maybe, and then during that time I applied to go to the Heifer Ranch, and I ended up there really just about a month after I got back.

 

[0:12:27.4] KM: How was Katrina down there when you were just — You just went down there to see what it looked it like? What’s the road trip with your brother?

 

[0:12:33.7] JS: Oh! So much fun. Yeah, great way to travel.

 

[0:12:36.7] KM: You get to do it while you’re young and before you’re tied down. That sounds like a great thing to do. You come, go straight to Perryville. You’re leaving the Heifer Ranch, and animal science?

 

[0:12:46.8] JS: I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was kind of my more professional idea. In the back of my mind, I really wanted to open a café and I already had this in my mind. Actually, I remember spending the last year of my time in the Peace Corps dreaming about this café and telling all the other Peace Corps volunteers that would listen to me about wanting to open a café when I got back to the U.S., but the sort of more realist side of me was planning to go back to school, get a degree in, I guess, zoology or animal science and then go to veterinary school. That was the plan for a little while, but I got down at the Heifer Ranch and I started to take a couple of classes at UALR and —

 

[0:13:33.5] KM: What’s got done at the Heifer Ranch?

 

[0:13:35.7] JS: Oh! Finished volunteering there. I was there for a year and a half and it was a lot of fun. I was in education and then I was in the livestock program also, so I got to work with — They have chickens, they have —

 

[0:13:50.4] KM: Rabbits, goats, lambing — The lambing. You were there to the lambing.

 

[0:13:55.3] JS: Yeah, absolutely.

 

[0:13:56.1] KM: That is the sweetest thing, the lambing ladies.

 

[0:13:58.1] JS: The lambing ladies came. We were visited by them. We had sheep and we had herd of cows. It was a really amazing working small farm and a lot of what we were raising there on the ranch, we ate in the cafeteria. In the case of the chickens, we actually processed them ourselves there on the ranch. It was really amazing to get that kind of —

 

[0:14:20.5] KM: Hands-on?

 

[0:14:20.8] JS: Yeah, that hands-on education in livestock, in animal husbandry. They also have a working organic garden there that supplies the CSA that comes into Little Rock.

 

[0:14:31.1] KM: Oh, I didn’t know that.

 

[0:14:31.6] JS: It’s about like an 80 members CSA.

 

[0:14:33.3] KM: I bet you met a lot of the people you work with today at the Root Café from there.

 

[0:14:37.7] JS: That’s exactly right. Yeah, there are still farmers I met there that we still buy from today.

 

[0:14:44.5] KM: I will have to tell you this story since you’re from the Heifer. I went up there because my son volunteered there. One of my sons  did one year, and I went up there to see him for lunch. While we’re going to the line, getting a little piece of meat, he went, “Oh! That’s Betsy. We butchered her last week.” I was just like, “Oh, no!”

 

[0:15:00.0] JS: You’re not supposed to name your animals.

 

[0:15:02.3] KM: I just couldn’t stand it. Then they’re really special when you know you’re going to eat them later, I guess. I don’t know.

 

[0:15:09.5] JS: That’s true, and it’s a really interesting thing. Obviously, a lot of open-minded people end up at the Heifer Ranch, but it was something that we talked a lot about was that idea of humane treatment of animals and the fact that you could know an animal and be around an animal and in some cases even name an animal knowing that it was going to be an animal that you ate later.

 

The fact that you knew that you were giving it a good life while it was alive, I think maybe something in our sort of industrial fast food system, a lot of people just don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to think about where their meat comes from. They want to think about the fact that the burger on their plate was at one point a living animal, but the fact that you don’t think about that is what results in a system where animals are treated so poorly and crowded into confinement operations.

 

I think recognizing that and seeing that system in action is a really, really important thing because once you realize that that animal is a life form and it has feelings and it wants to be happy and taken care off just like a pet dog does, well then you’re going to take a lot better care of that animal. It’s going to live a much happier life. If it’s going to end up on a plate, it’s going to end up on a plate, but —

 

[0:16:37.8] KM: In a very humane way.

 

[0:16:38.8] JS: Before it does, it’s good for it to live the best life it can.

 

[0:16:42.4] KM: You said that so perfectly.

 

[0:16:44.9] JS: Thanks. I appreciate that.

 

[0:16:46.0] KM: You act like you may have said that before.

 

[0:16:48.1] JS: I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud, Kerry.

 

[0:16:51.1] KM: It’s good. I like it. We want to talk a lot about starting the Root. That’s what really everybody wants to hear about, because the Root is famous and it has a beautiful concept of building a community through local foods. I love that. Now, you’ve been thinking about cafes because you’ve seen it in Morocco and you see that it’s the core of the social society there. You’ve fallen in love with these cafes. You come back, you learn farm-to-table. You’ve gotten to know all the people and the farmers that are local. I just want to say to young people that you never know where life is going to lead you, and you are a perfect example. You didn’t just say, “One day I’m going to have the Root Café on Main Street. It was a series of events that led you to where you got to, and you just got up every morning I would imagine and put one foot in front of the other and all of a sudden you ended up somewhere you didn’t anticipate. 

 

[0:17:46.9] JS: That’s right. Yeah.

 

[0:17:48.6] KM: You’ve left there and you decided you’re going to open this café, but you can’t just open it right away, and this is when I met you. I think actually I may have met you when you were still at Heifer a little bit. How did you start earning money to live your dream of opening a café? How did you start that?

 

[0:18:05.8] JS: I started thinking about it, brainstorming the idea of the Root Café with a young lady who was out at the Heifer Ranch with me, named Rebecca. The two of us ended up in Little Rock after we were at the ranch and continued to kind of developed this idea, and while it was still in very very early stages, I met Corry who became my wife later and she became a third partners in all of the brainstorming and development of the Root. The three of us worked together for about three years and we did fundraisers, which you know about. The first one was at [inaudible 0:18:46.3] Hall. 

 

[0:18:48.0] KM: At Arkansas Flag & Banner

 

[0:18:48.8] JS: At the Arkansas Flag & Banner.

 

[0:18:50.7] KM: That’s when I met you.

 

[0:18:51.5] JS: That’s right. A friend of ours, Nathaniel Wills helped us put together this fundraiser.

 

[0:18:55.9] KM: He is an organizing guru, isn’t he?

 

[0:18:57.6] JS: Isn’t he? Yeah. He just makes things happen.

 

[0:18:59.8] KM: Then he just goes away and you’re left doing it. He started the Dreamland Ballroom.

 

[0:19:03.6] JS: That’s right.

 

[0:19:04.9] KM: He started that. He taught me into that. Kept doing all these things, and now he never comes around. I see him and I go, “You know, Nathaniel, I’m up to my elbows in the Dreamland Ballroom and I never see you anymore.”

 

[0:19:14.7] JS: Now he just says, “I’m a farmer.” I don’t have any time.

 

[0:19:18.0] KM: I want him to come on the show sometimes. 

 

[0:19:20.0] JS: That’s right. He’s a dad too.

 

[0:19:22.0] KM: Yes, he is. Anyway, those guys, the three of you got together, brainstormed, and you probably already knew Nathaniel.

 

[0:19:29.1] JS: Yeah. Actually, before I even moved to Little Rock, met him at MerleFest, the music festival in North Carolina. I already knew him when I got to — 

 

[0:19:37.5] KM: In North Carolina?

 

[0:19:38.3] JS: Yeah.

 

[0:19:40.1] KM: Two Arkansans met in North Carolina.

 

[0:19:41.5] JS: Well, it happened.

 

[0:19:43.1] KM: Really?

 

[0:19:43.4] JS: At least it did one time.

 

[0:19:45.6] KM: Okay. Y’all met down there. You said, “Hey! I’m from Little Rock.” He said, “Me too!” 

 

[0:19:48.7] JS: That’s right. Yeah. That’s exactly how it happened.

 

[0:19:50.4] KM: Okay.

 

[0:19:52.4] JS: Then we did those fundraisers. It was just like a keg party with a band and friends would come and we would ask for donations and put a piece of paper out to build an email list.

 

[0:20:04.1] KM: How may fundraisers did you have?

 

[0:20:06.4] JS: At docs I think we did three of four. I can’t remember.

 

[0:20:08.4] KM: That’s what I think too.

 

[0:20:09.4] JS: We’d get a different band each time or a couple of bands.

 

[0:20:13.0] KM: Did you do it any place else?

 

[0:20:14.7] JS: Let’s see. Boy! I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I don’t think so. I think most of the events like that we did, we did at [inaudible 0:20:14.7] Hall. Eventually, we started renting the kitchen at Christ Episcopal Church in 6th and Scott Street. We did some other format fundraisers. We would do like a movie and dinner night.

 

[0:20:34.7] KM: Did you get enough money at these fundraisers and at Christ Church? Did you make enough money to start a business or did you have to go and get a loan on top of that?

 

[0:20:42.8] JS: We ended up borrowing $10,000.

 

[0:20:45.2] KM: That’s nothing.

 

[0:20:45.6] JS: Yeah. It wasn’t much, but that was mainly for the Vent-A-Hood, to get a Vent-A-hood installed. Not all of the fundraisers were that successful monetarily, but we did — If they didn’t raise a lot of money, then we considered in friendraisers, and it was a way to build our email list, and it was a way to get the message out that we were working on opening a local foods café.

 

[0:21:08.9] KM: You need sales, which is really what you’re doing, is you were building your sales to your customer base. You need sales almost before you need the location, and most people put in a location, spend all these money and then they go out and try to get sales. You reversed that. You probably never went in debt, did you, because you reversed that. You had customers first.

 

[0:21:28.7] JS: Yeah.

 

[0:21:29.2] KM: That is very odd.

 

[0:21:31.1] JS: Looking back, it worked out great. We didn’t know that we were doing something smart, and I wish I could say that it was intentional, but we — I think we’re just really averse to taking on debt, so we thought, “Why don’t we do this slowly and we’ll spend time raising money. We’ll spend time raising awareness of local foods in the Little Rock community,” which was something that is already going on, but it was something that we could work with other organizations and set up tables.

 

[0:22:01.5] KM: What other organizations do you work with?

 

[0:22:04.2] JS: At that time, for example, we collaborated then with the Arkansas Sustainability Network. They were in the Victory Building at the time and they started the local food pick up, that’s the online farmers market.

 

[0:22:16.1] KM: Is that still doing on?

 

[0:22:16.8] JS: It is. It’s now the Arkansas Local Food Network. Instead of ASN, it’s ALFN, but they still do the local food pick up. At the time, I think 2007, they had just something like 15 people who were shopping through the online farmers market and they had one supplier. Now, you’d go on there and it’s like 30 or 40 farmers and over 100 people shopping there every week.

 

[0:22:40.0] KM: Where do you go on? What’s the email address?

 

[0:22:41.8] JS: That’s littlerock.locallygrown.net, and it’s an online farmers market. You put your order in on, I think, by Wednesday, and then you pick your food up on Saturday.

 

[0:22:51.7] KM: Where do you pick it up?

 

[0:22:52.1] JS: At Christ Episcopal.

 

[0:22:54.1] KM: Oh, really?

 

[0:22:54.5] JS: Yeah.

 

[0:22:55.2] KM: That’s still going on.

 

[0:22:56.4] JS: It is. Yeah, they’ve been hosting that for eons now. 

 

[0:23:00.5] KM: That is the coolest thing. I guess it’s still successful.

 

[0:23:03.2] JS: Yeah, it seems to be. There’s a lot of other things. A lot more farmers markets now than there were back then, so I’m sure that kind of splits up the market.

 

[0:23:08.6] KM: Yeah. Everyone neighborhood’s got one. Do you buy from a bunch of these guys for your Root Café?

 

[0:23:15.2] JS: Oh, absolutely. I go to the Hill Crest Farmers Market on Cavanaugh. I go there every Saturday.

 

[0:23:20.7] KM: Really?

 

[0:23:21.5] JS: Mm-hmm. The great thing about that is it’s a year-round farmers market. I can always kind of keep up with what lots of the different farmers have. What’s coming in to season, and then it also serves as a place where I can pick up from farmers who don’t make regular deliveries. I might arrange for them to bring a couple of extra cases of something that we need and then I’ll go there and pick it up.

 

[0:23:42.8] KM: Or you could — Oh! Because there’s not from in-town.

 

[0:23:46.5] JS: Right. Most of them. Now, there are a few that are urban farms, but the majority —

 

[0:23:50.7] KM: Yeah, Felder Farm is.

 

[0:23:52.4] JS: Right. There’s Felder. There’s Dunbar Gardens. There’s Little Rock Urban Farming. Willow Springs Market Garden. They’re not active anymore, but for the first four years I’ve bought from them.

 

[0:24:02.2] KM: You might contact Grady’s — Isn’t there a farmer named Grady or something?

 

[0:24:06.1] JS: There’s Harden farms down in Grady.

 

[0:24:07.9] KM: Yeah. That’s the one I’m thinking. You might — Because he’s far away, you might call him or email him and tell him to bring you extra stuff and he’ll bring it up here when he’s coming to farmers market on the weekend. Is that what you’re saying? 

 

[0:24:16.3] JS: Yeah, exactly.

 

[0:24:18.2] KM: Aren’t you creative? That’s a lot of work to go pick up your food though. Most restaurants have their food delivered to the backdoor.

 

[0:24:23.5] JS: We have some farms that do delivery. They’re generally bigger. For example, Arkansas Natural Produce down in Malvern, they’re a really, really great greenhouse operation. They do year-round spring mix. The beautiful, really flavorful spring mix that you see in the majority of restaurants in Little Rock when you go out to eat. 

 

[0:24:44.4] KM: I was wondering where that came from.

 

[0:24:46.9] JS: Most of the time it’s from Arkansas Natural Produce, and they have a year-round operation. We get several dozen pounds of spring mix from them each week because we put a little side salad with all our sandwiches.

 

[0:24:58.7] KM: I’m skeptical to buy it sometimes, because I’m thinking, “Where does that come from?” I wondered if it was hydroponics. 

 

[0:25:05.2] JS: No. They grow in soil, but they have a climate controlled greenhouse, so they’re able to —

 

[0:25:10.5] KM: Is there anybody doing hydroponics growing?

 

[0:25:13.6] JS: Not on a grand scale that we’ve come across. There have been a few that I’ve heard about —

 

[0:25:19.1] KM: They’ve tried.

 

[0:25:20.1] JS: They’ve tried and may have been successful, but we haven’t bought from them.

 

[0:25:22.9] KM: For our listeners who want to know what hydroponics is, it’s where you grow indoors in a warehouse in water, I think, and you just put all the nutrients in the water. You can only grow things like lettuce, strawberry, kale. You can’t grow any root vegetables in water, of course. It’s got to be stuff that grows above ground.

 

I know they’re doing it where there’s limited space  in Asia. Like in China, they’re doing it big time.

 

[0:25:48.4] JS: Right.

 

[0:25:48.9] KM: I don’t know if anybody in Little Rock. I saw that sometimes. That’s interesting. You’ve started your business down there. You’ve made your money. I know we’re going to go to offline farming, but back to your business, your core business. You’ve raised your money. Now, you’ve got to pick out a location. 

 

[0:26:03.5] JS: Right. That was one of the benefits of spending that three years was that we got to look at a lot of locations.

 

[0:26:09.8] KM: I wish you’d have done it at docs.

 

[0:26:12.6] JS: You would have had to put in a grease trap for us.

 

[0:26:14.7] KM: I know. There were some limitations. Those grease traps are expensive, aren’t they?

 

[0:26:19.2] JS: They are. Yeah, there’s a lot of infrastructure hurdles to opening a restaurant that make it really, really expensive on the frontend, and that’s why you very often see when a restaurant closes that another restaurant will open in the same location because they already have a lot of those things, like a grease trap and a Vent-A-Hood that are required for running a restaurant.

 

[0:26:40.8] KM: That’s what you did. Wasn’t your place an old drive-in or something?

 

[0:26:46.2] JS: It had been, but it was from so long ago that none of that stuff was still usable. During that three years, we were doing the fundraisers. We did canning and food preservation workshops also. It was a lot of fun. 

 

[0:27:02.3] KM: Down at Christ Church?

 

[0:27:02.5] JS: Yeah, we did those at Christ Church mostly. Also, the Universalist Church. We did a few of those. We did those events, like I was talking about, dinner and a movie type stuff. We did catering, which was a lot of fun. People would get in touch with us who had met us at Earth Day or something like that and they’d say, “Hey, can you cater a wedding, or can you cater a party?”

 

[0:27:24.6] KM: Where did you cook it all? All down at Christ Church?

 

[0:27:26.3] JS: Yeah. That was a certified commercial kitchen, so we were able to use that kitchen, cook what we needed to cook and then we would take a catering delivery somewhere.

 

[0:27:35.3] KM: It’s like an incubator, small business incubator down there for restaurants. I wonder if they could still do it for anybody.

 

[0:27:40.4] JS: I don’t know if they still do that, but I know that Trinity —

 

[0:27:45.2] KM: Did it for a little while. I don’t think they’re still doing it though.

 

[0:27:46.4] JS: Yeah. You know Kent Walker? He got his start in Trinity, and Loblolly also used that kitchen first.

 

[0:27:51.6] KM: Ken Walker, the cheese.

 

[0:27:52.9] JS: Right. That’s a great model, because it gives people who are just kind of on the verge of manifesting this vision.

 

[0:27:58.1] KM: Both of them were successful.

 

[0:27:59.3] JS: They were, yeah. They both have their own spaces now. Yeah, they’re doing great stuff. Then we were connecting with people all the time through these different events that we were doing and people knew that we were looking for a space. For a long time, we kind of had out sight set on 7th Street Tattoos.

 

[0:28:18.9] KM: Oh! That a bit by me. I’d had liked that down there.

 

[0:28:21.3] JS: That’s right. We would be really close. We were talking to them. They were building that new space they were in and they were looking to sublet the old space because they wanted to make sure that new tattoo parlor didn’t go in behind them and take all their business. They were going to sublet us. For one reason or another, that didn’t work out in the end. Then a friend of our who is doing some construction for Anita Davis down in the South Main neighborhood. He got in touch and he said, “Hey, I know y’all are looking for a space. Anita is redoing this building that used to be the Sweden Cream, and you guys should come down and take a look at it.”

 

It was one of those things. We had look at probably 20 different locations or maybe more and when we pulled up there to look at the Sweden Cream, we just instantly knew that this was the place.

 

[0:29:08.1] KM: That was it. It is. It absolutely is.

 

[0:29:10.4] JS: It felt right.

 

[0:29:10.2] KM: It’s across from the corner store. It’s next to the [inaudible 0:29:15.0] Museum.

 

[0:29:15.7] JS: Right. We’ve got Boulevard right there, kind of caddie corner.

 

[0:29:19.5] KM: That’s right. It’s really opening up down there, that South on Main area. 

 

[0:29:22.6] JS: Right. Yeah, there’s great stuff going on. I think, obviously, Anita deserves a ton of credit for having that vision early on and she was really just kind of a philanthropic developer. She brought businesses in that she thought would be good for the neighborhood and the community. in a lot of cases would offer really great deals on rent for the first year to help them get going.

 

[0:29:46.8] KM: Are you renting from her?

 

[0:29:47.3] JS: No. We actually eventually purchased the building from her. We wanted to do that expansion project that we’ve been working on.

 

[0:29:52.6] KM: You’ve moved in. You found it. You moved in. Did it have equipment in it?

 

[0:29:56.4] JS: No. We had actually been purchasing equipment here and there through that three year period, and just finding places to store stuff.

 

[0:30:05.5] KM: You just started painting it and moving in. Have you married Corry yet?

 

[0:30:09.3] JS: Well, once we found that space, we signed the lease in August to become effective on January 1st. By August, there we knew that we were going to be in that space, so we went on our honeymoon in October and we got married when we got back and then —

 

[0:30:26.8] KM: Isn’t that backwards?

 

[0:30:28.0] JS: I don’t know. We just figured we would —

 

[0:30:32.0] KM: You do everything your own way.

 

[0:30:32.8] JS: We would get it done one way or another. Then in January we started working on the building. Another incredible thing about the Anita Davis story is that she really saw a food establishment as an important thing to the community there.

 

[0:30:50.9] KM: To South on Main.

 

[0:30:51.6] JS: She had helped Boulevard get their bake house in that space.

 

[0:30:55.5] KM: I didn’t know that.

 

[0:30:57.4] JS: Yeah. She helped them, some with finishing out the building, I think. I don’t know to what degree, but for us, once we had signed the lease, she was still doing some of the finishing construction and she said, “Let me know where you want outlets, where you want plumbing, where you want things like that.” She had put in a grease trap so that it would be more attractive to a restaurant.

 

[0:31:20.8] KM: She is such a philanthropist.

 

[0:31:22.1] JS: It’s incredible. Yes.

 

[0:31:23.7] KM: She just moved up here 10 years ago. Didn’t she, from somewhere?

 

[0:31:27.5] JS: Boy! I don’t know about that.

 

[0:31:27.9] KM: She’s not from Little Rock. I think she’s from the country, and all of a sudden she just moves up here and picks South on Main is where she wants to do her work and just jumps in there. She built Bernice Garden.

 

[0:31:39.9] JS: That’s right. Yeah. I heard she came down —

 

[0:31:42.4] KM: From heaven?

 

[0:31:43.2] JS: From the sky on a golden chariot.

 

[0:31:44.4] KM: Yeah, I think that might be right. I think that’s probably actually where she came from. You moved in. How many days did it take? How long did it take? You’ve got your third

 

[0:31:51.9] JS: Did you say how many days?

 

[0:31:52.6] KM: Yes — Or months. Do you still have your third partner, or she —

 

[0:31:57.7] JS: She was part of the partnership for most of the startup phase, but she decided to go in a different direction during the time between when we had signed the lease and when the lease became effective. During the fall of 2010, right before we started actually working on the building.

 

[0:32:18.4] KM: Did you do it yourself?

 

[0:32:19.4] JS: The building stuff? Yeah, the building itself was finished out and so we started doing the decorating and started moving the equipment in that we had already bought. We started finding furniture and —

 

[0:32:33.9] KM: Did y’all have another job and you were working while this was going on?

 

[0:32:36.0] JS: We did for most of the time. Yeah.

 

[0:32:38.4] KM: I saw you worked at Autobon or somewhere.

 

[0:32:40.0] JS: I was at Autobon Arkansas for a little while as an intern. I worked at Boulevard Bread Company for two years and then I also worked at a place called Milford Track out in west Little Rock.

 

[0:32:50.4] KM: What’s that?

 

[0:32:51.1] JS: It’s this neat little place. It’s in the bottom of the West Lake office buildings.

 

[0:32:56.0] KM: A restaurant?

 

[0:32:56.4] JS: Yeah.

 

[0:32:57.1] KM: You do have some restaurant experience.

 

[0:32:58.7] JS: Yeah. A few places. Boulevard, specifically, because they were really doing amazing work that I felt like kind of ahead of the curve for what was going on in the food industry at that time. They were doing a lot of local purchasing and they still are, but at that time they were —

 

[0:33:21.8] KM: They were really progressing. There’s nothing like them.

 

[0:33:25.7] JS: Right. That experience was great. Milford Track, they make their own homemade pasta and they do some really cool stuff out there. Yeah, you should go check it out. It’s such a neat place.

 

I worked at a few places like that, but then once we got to the nitty-gritty, like in May or something like that, I think I quit my job there and then we just worked on the Root full-time. It’s funny, we were in it every day. I remember we were even sleeping down there once in a while just like we’d work all day trying to get stuff painted or build shelves or whatever we were doing. We would just sleep on the floor when we got done, wake up the next morning and start back to it.

 

[0:34:04.8] KM: Sounds wonderful to me. That sounds really wonderful, like a labor of love, of passion.

 

[0:34:09.7] JS: Yeah. Eventually, Scott McGee, he is kind of a mentor in a lot of ways, and he came and took a look at the space and he was going to give us some recommendations or just kind of give us his feedback on everything. He walked in. At that point, we had tables and chairs and we had a stove an oven and an espresso machine and stuff like that and we felt like there were all these that we had to get perfect before we opened. He walked in and he was like, “This looks great. Y’all are ready to open. Y’all should open next week.” We’re like, “Oh!” I realized that there was a point where we really had to just bite the bullet and open.

 

My friend, Doug, just texted me a question.

 

[0:34:50.3] KM: Come on, Doug.

 

[0:34:51.3] JS: All right. Doug Pierce. Doug often comes and helps us with events that we do at the Root Café, the beard growing contest, and the hot pepper eating contest.

 

[0:34:59.3] KM: That’s what we need to talk about next, the pie contest.

 

[0:35:01.1] JS: Oh! The pie bakeoff. Yes. Doug texted, “Are you going to restart your rooftop garden and rainwater collection with the new expansion?”

 

[0:35:10.5] KM: That’s a good question.

 

[0:35:11.8] JS: That is a good question.

 

[0:35:13.9] KM: Are you collecting rainwater?

 

[0:35:14.7] JS: Well, we had a rain barrel for a while and it was right where that second bathroom eventually went out on the patio.

 

[0:35:21.7] KM: You’re not serving that water up to us, are you?

 

[0:35:23.6] JS: No way.

 

[0:35:25.3] KM: Washing your dishes in it.

 

[0:35:26.8] JS: We use it to water the courtyard. The funny thing about a rain barrel though is that when it’s raining and it can fill up a rain barrel, you need to water as much.

 

[0:35:37.2] KM: Oh! That’s a good point.

 

[0:35:40.0] JS: We’re learning to use it when we can, and it helps save a little bit.

 

[0:35:43.0] KM: A rain barrel is good. We have one and we use it because we want to not make a big trench down the side of the house.

 

[0:35:49.5] JS: Right. It’s a great way to stop erosion. I’m just kidding. I say that tongue and cheek. It collects a ton of water. I think it’s a 50-gallon barrel and it will fill up from one rainstorm.

 

[0:36:00.3] KM: Did you have a garden on your roof?

 

[0:36:01.3] JS: It was actually just a green roof that Anita had put on before we even signed the lease. That was something that she decided would be an attractive thing for the neighborhood. She put on top of the building.

 

[0:36:13.7] KM: She is something else.

 

[0:36:14.0] JS: She is something else, yeah. We maintained it and it does well, but it’s not edible plants. It’s actually just some — It’s drought tolerant succulence that do really well in the Arkansas summer when they’re up there.

 

[0:36:27.9] KM: We’ve got to talk about your food network. You’ve had some great publicity. You had the traditional pie bakeoff and you had the Food Network, Simon — How do you say his last name? Majumdar?

 

[0:36:40.1] JS: Majumdar.

 

[0:36:41.1] KM: Majumdar at the Root Café in April to judge your traditional pie bakeoff. That was in 2015 though.

 

[0:36:47.2] JS: That’s right. Yeah, back in April, I think.

 

[0:36:49.5] KM: How did you get him? 

 

[0:36:50.7] JS: He was doing a kind of nontraditional book tour. I think it was called Red, White and Chew, or Fed, White and Blue. It was some play on red, white and blue, and it was his story of — He wasn’t born in the U.S., so his story of kind of learning about American culture through the traditional food of the U.S. On his book tour he was doing a real nontraditional book tour where he just reached out through social media to different towns that he was interested in stopping. He would ask people to come up with an event of any size. It could be like a potluck or some kind of a speaking engagement. When he was looking at coming to Little Rock, someone got in touch with us and said, “Hey, what would y’all be interested in doing if we could get him to come to Little Rock?”

 

[0:37:38.3] KM: You said a pie cook off, pie bakeoff.

 

[0:37:40.2] JS: We thought, “Yeah, it’d be fun to have him be a guest judge for a traditional pie bakeoff.”

 

[0:37:43.3] KM: You do a lot of contest. You do a beard contest, pie contest.

 

[0:37:47.0] JS: Yeah, my wife tells me I’m too competitive.

 

[0:37:49.7] KM: I don’t know. I like it.

 

[0:37:53.2] JS: I think they’re fun. 

 

[0:37:53.8] KM: They’re very fun. What’s another one you do?

 

[0:37:56.4] JS: We do the beard contest.

 

[0:37:58.1] KM: You did chili? Cheese dip?

 

[0:38:00.7] JS: No. We don’t do —

 

[0:38:01.6] KM: Any of those. Everybody is doing those.

 

[0:38:03.5] JS: Right. We do a community potluck usually in the summer when we celebrate our anniversary in June.

 

[0:38:10.4] KM: What’s a community potluck?

 

[0:38:11.8] JS: We’ll have a party and we’ll do — A band will come play and we’ll do a main course, like some barbecue or something like that and then we’ll ask people to bring side dishes.

 

[0:38:24.9] KM: You are really living up to your name, community. It’s free.

 

[0:38:29.5] JS: Right. We just tell people to come and have a —

 

[0:38:32.2] KM: Are you exhausted all the time?

 

[0:38:34.0] JS: I can always use a good night sleep, but we’re having a lot of fun too, so it keeps me going.

 

[0:38:40.3] KM: You’re so creative.

 

[0:38:41.8] JS: Well, it’s funny you say that. I feel a lot of times like I’m always on the hunt for new ideas.

 

[0:38:49.9] KM: I think that’s what entrepreneurs do. They’re always on the hunt for new ideas. I think you are the epitome of what an entrepreneur does.

 

[0:38:56.0] JS: That’s so nice for you to say that. Thank you, Kerry.

 

[0:38:58.3] KM: You’re welcome. You had a passion. You saw a niche. You saw an opportunity. You thought about it, obsessed about it, as I know you probably did, because that’s what a real entrepreneur does. You obsess about it, then you started moving towards the target in a really creative way. Then you felt the moment when you went in there, you had an epiphany, or you had a moment, an aha moment where you say, “This is the place,” a kind of a God moment. I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs tell me, “Oh, I just had a God moment. I just knew right then that this was it,” and you had that. Then you just put one foot in front of the other every day as you continue to come up with creative ideas. 

 

[0:39:40.1] JS: A lot of it, honestly, is luck and being in the right place at the right time.

 

[0:39:43.5] KM: I don’t believe that.

 

[0:39:45.4] JS: I do. I remember I went to —

 

[0:39:46.7] KM: You make good luck. You’ve been making your luck.

 

[0:39:48.6] JS: I’m not sure, but I went to a small business class at —

 

[0:39:53.2] KM: Yeah. Small Business Development Center. Yeah, I love them. 

 

[0:39:55.1] JS: Small Business Development Center, UALR.

 

[0:39:56.1] KM: They’re coming on in three weeks.

 

[0:39:56.8] JS: Oh, cool. Okay. I went to a business class there and it had all these great quotes and stuff but I remember one of them that said that the majority percentage of entrepreneurs when they were asked, “What was the most important attribute? What was the most important thing about their success in opening a business?” More than any other thing, they said good luck. That was it.

 

[0:40:17.1] KM: That’s because they’re humble.

 

[0:40:18.5] JS: Well, maybe it is. I don’t know, but I’ve just kind of felt like the fact that we happen to know this guy, Justin, who said, “Hey, you should get in touch with Anita,” and we went down there. It was just like, “Gosh! It just fell into place.”

 

[0:40:30.0] KM: If you’d been laying on your couch, it had never fallen into place.

 

[0:40:33.7] JS: Maybe.

 

[0:40:35.6] KM: You kind of make your luck.

 

[0:40:36.7] JS: The potato chips might have fallen into place. I don’t know.

 

[0:40:39.8] KM: Yeah. You kind of make your luck. I do agree there’s a lot of luck and some could say God moments, but you do have to get up off the couch and every day put your foot in front of each other and not exactly know where you’re going, but be brave enough to keep going forward.

 

Then, there’s the one I want to do, because I’ve never gotten this. You got a grant, and that’s how you’ve done your expansion, I think. 

 

[0:41:03.2] JS: That’s right. Yeah.

 

[0:41:05.4] KM: That’s not luck. Who wrote the grant?

 

[0:41:08.0] JS: I did write the grant. Just think about all the different applications that were out there. I consider that one of the luckiest things. 

 

[0:41:15.0] KM: If you haven’t had gotten that one, you’d have had kept going till you got one. 

 

[0:41:17.4] JS: Maybe. I’m not sure. Another I consider lucky thing, the summer before that happened, we got an email from a group called MBAs Across America, and they —

 

[0:41:26.6] KM: What are they called?

 

[0:41:27.4] JS: MBAs Across America. They’re a nonprofit that sends groups of MBA candidates between their first and second year. Instead of doing an internship, they’ll do a six-week road trip and four students will get in a car together and they’ll travel to six different towns in the U.S. and work with a business in each town and do like a week of business consulting with them. They got in touch with us and they said, “We’re doing this program. Do you want to be a part of it?” We said, “Sure.”

 

We had these four students show up and worked with us for a week and they —

 

[0:42:04.6] KM: Who taught who?

 

[0:42:05.2] JS: Oh, man! They taught us a lot. They said that we taught them some stuff, but I don’t know if that’s true.

 

[0:42:09.3] KM: I bet you did.

 

[0:42:10.4] JS: MBAs Across America, they come on this road trip and they’ve worked with us for a week and they interviewed our customers. They helped us with social media ideas. They’ve looked at inventory things, stuff like that. At the end of the week, they put together this kind of list of recommendations. The first one was you guys should open for dinner. Your customers have mentioned that several times, and looking at a demographic data for downtown Little Rock there just weren’t, at that time, a lot of casual family friendly dinner options. Along with that, we ended up being part of this TV show called Growing America, and it was following the MBAs as they went across the U.S. and it was put on by Holliday Inn, I think. It was kind of an uplifting documentary about this MBA program and we ended up being part of that.

 

To make it more exciting, they created this voting component on the show where viewers could vote for the business they considered to be the most inspirational and we happened to win that and we didn’t know at the time, but the price from that was $25,000. That guy, Ty Pennington, the one that does —

 

[0:43:23.6] KM: Yeah, I know that name.

 

[0:43:23.7] JS: Extreme home makeover, I think. He sends you to Disneyworld and bulldozer’s your house while you’re gone. He was the narrator for the show, and so before the last episode, he showed up with a check for $25,000 and they were like, “You guys won the most inspirational business. Here you go.” That was kind of finale for the whole series. 

 

[0:43:44.4] KM: Headline News announced the Root Café as the winner of the $25,000 grant selected for Growing America.

 

[0:43:50.8] JS: Yeah, the name of the show was Growing America: A Journey to Success. You can see it — I don’t know if it’s still on HLN’s website, but if you go to the Root’s YouTube channel, you can see it on — We have the whole thing. It was about two hours without the commercials and it was a six-part mini-series and they had businesses from Little Rock, Denver, and Detroit, I think. It was a really neat show. It talked about how the MBA students worked with the different business owners.

 

After that, that was fall of 2014, and then that next year, during that fall, we put in the grant application with Chase Bank for Mission Main Street, and we found out a little bit after that that we received that larger grant for $150,000 and that was to do that expansion that the MBAs had recommended, the dinner expansion. 

 

[0:44:45.0] KM: When they gave you the 25,000, was it allocated only for expansion, or could you use it for anything you wanted to?

 

[0:44:49.8] JS: They said we could use it for anything we wanted to, but wanted to put it towards that expansion.

 

[0:44:56.0] KM: Then getting that grant gave you the inspiration or the national recognition to get the $150,000 grant, or did they parley ended up one to the other?

 

[0:45:08.5] JS: No. They were completely unrelated actually. It was obviously very coincidental. But no, it didn’t have anything to do with each other. We just — I had applied for that grant. Actually, I think before we even found out that we were receiving price money from the TV show. 

 

[0:45:22.9] KM: You wrote both of your grants.

 

[0:45:25.2] JS: The first wasn’t a grant. It was prize money from that show. It was just completely random. The Mission Main Street grant, that was a true grant, a grant application. We had to describe in that what we would use the money for if we received it.

 

[0:45:40.0] KM: When I go and look at grants for the Dreamland Ballroom, I can’t ever pick out which one I should apply for. How did you — Because you could apply for a lot of different ones. Was there a specific something that triggered it to you that said, “This is the one I need to apply for,” because you could spend all day applying for them.

 

[0:45:54.6] JS: You could now. I don’t think they’re that many for businesses, for for-profit business. This was a pretty unique opportunity. Mission Main Street grants are specifically for businesses. You have to be a business that has sort of a social community building mission. They were looking for things like local sourcing or hiring minority employees, just lots of ways that businesses were giving back to the community. You had to have been in business for at least two years. There were a few other requirements, but when I read it I thought, “Gosh! That really fits with what we do,” and so —

 

[0:46:30.6] KM: Did you read through a bunch of them?

 

[0:46:32.2] JS: No. That was the only one I knew about, so I put in an application.

 

[0:46:35.3] KM: You expanded with containers, I read.

 

[0:46:37.9] JS: That’s right. Shipping containers.

 

[0:46:39.1] KM: I know. I think that’s so cool.

 

[0:46:41.5] JS: It’s fun.

 

[0:46:43.4] KM: You can just pick them up and move.

 

[0:46:44.4] JS: Well, they’re welded to the ground now, so you can’t anymore — If there’s a tornado, the Root Café is the place to be.

 

[0:46:51.5] KM: Come over there and get your shelters.

 

[0:46:52.6] JS: That’s right. Yeah.

 

[0:46:54.1] KM: I want to thank Jack Sundell, owner and founder of the Root Café and for birthing a restaurant with a mission of building a community through support of local foods. That’s just a beautiful concept.

 

[0:47:04.5] JS: I do just want to mention the co-owner and cofounder, because my wife, Corry, has been involved every step of the way.

 

[0:47:10.5] KM: That’s right. We didn’t talk about nepotism, because it is a family owned business. For birthing a business, you get this cigar, and I brought one for Corry too.

 

[0:47:18.7] JS: Is it from Cuba?

 

[0:47:20.0] KM: No. It’s not.

 

[0:47:21.9] JS: What?

 

[0:47:22.1] KM: But it’s made with Cuban seeds.

 

[0:47:25.2] JS: Okay. Thank you. It says Romeo and Juliet on it.

 

[0:47:27.6] KM: I know. It’s romantic. Share it with your wife.

 

[0:47:29.5] JS: All right.

 

[0:47:29.6] KM: It came from the Humidor Room at Colonial Wine & Spirits on Markham Street in Little Rock, Arkansas.

 

To our listeners, if you’ve got a great entrepreneurial story you would like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio and your contact info to questions@upyourbusiness.org and someone will be in touch.

 

Finally, I want to thank all of you for spending time with me and my guest, Jack Sundell. If you think this program has been about you, you’re right, but it’s also been about me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiriting or enlightening, and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I’m Kerry McCoy. Be brave, and keep it up.

 

[END OF INTERVIEW]

 

[0:48:15.7] TB: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. Want to hear today’s program again or want someone else to benefit from it? Jot this down. Within 48 hours the podcast will be available at flagandbanner.com. Click the tab labeled “Radio Show”, there you’ll find today’s segments with links to resources you heard discussed on this program. Kerry’s goal: to help you live the American Dream.

 

[END]

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