This panel discussion brings together several businesses owners, across the culinary spectrum, to share their experiences as well as provide some ‘do’ and ‘don’t’ advice when growing a small business.
Owner – FS Food Group
A trailblazer on the Charlotte restaurant scene, FS Food Group founder Frank Scibelli has a proven reputation for picking up on what the local scene lacks, then over-delivering time after time. Scibelli is known for immersing himself in the culture of each concept, from studying with Michelin-starred chefs, traveling through Texas to learn the nuances of barbecue and learning from acclaimed chefs Susanna Trilling and Patricia Quintana, the “Julia Child” of Mexico. Throughout his twenty-five years in the industry he has hand-selected a loyal team of partners each committed to delivering authentic, high-quality experiences for all. The community continues to take note and has consistently voted FS Food Group restaurants “Best Of” year after year.
Owner – FEAST Food Tours & Culinary Events
Kristi Martin left her 20-year career of managing events and catering sales at two of Charlotte’s best known wedding and event venues to follow her dream of starting a culinary tourism company. Martin launched FEAST in February 2012 with the goal of sharing Charlotte’s culinary story with out-of-town visitors and locals alike. Her goal is to connect people to local culinary stories via guided public and private walking tours. FEAST has received the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor every year since 2014 and has been featured in Southern Living magazine, as well as listed as one of the best food tours on various travel blogs including the Huffington Post UK, Forbes, and Fodor’s.
Owner – Your Mom’s Donuts
Courtney Buckley came to the food industry through baking and pastry. After working in a grocery store bakery for a few years, she found a community of farmers and local food supporters. She started, what eventually became Roots, a local food distribution service in 2010. From there, Courtney started farming, critically endangered livestock and dairy sheep which she did for a few years before launching Your Mom’s Donuts in Matthews in October of 2013. She has since added a new Monroe, NC location .. and is planning a more in the coming year.
Founder / CEO – CurEat
Steve Mangano is the Founder & CEO of CurEat, a restaurant search app that has been described as “the Spotify of restaurant searches”. Before launching CurEat, Steve had a long entrepreneurial career both in and out of the hospitality industry. He has built and sold several successful companies and remains a partner in the 21C Hotel in Durham, NC. Steve taught business planning at the Art Institute in Durham for several years. He has an Undergraduate degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University and an MBA from UNC Chapel Hill.
Owner – Lenny Boy Brewing
Ten years ago, Townes tried his first kombucha and was immediately intrigued by the fermentation process. His obsession with fermentation led him to start sourcing local ingredients to experiment with different flavors, ultimately leading him to brewing beer, mead, and kombucha in his college laundry room. Townes opened Lenny Boy in 2012. Since then, Lenny Boy has grown from a 2,500 square foot business into a booming 31,000 square foot facility where Townes and his team continue to be creative, compassionate, and supportive, all while making and serving a high-quality, organic products.
James & Miracle Yoder
Owners – Not Just Coffee
Having lived in Ghana, Romania, and Italy,James and Miracle Yoder landed in the Queen City in 2009 with international inspiration and a strong desire to lay roots and invest in their new home community. Just a few years later, they brought Charlotte’s very first third-wave coffee shop to life at a little bar in 7th Street Public Market – Not Just Coffee. Now, Not Just Coffee boasts four (soon to be five) locations. In 2017, The Yoders received the Center City Partners’ Special Achievement Award for their pioneering efforts “for cultivating an authentic third place in the community”.