I like to keep my eyes open for unique local business ideas to see how they develop over time. Here are three that I recently noticed in Bloomington-Normal. They all take old fashioned ideas and bring them back to life in new ways. It will be interesting to see how they do as time progresses. Let’s make a pledge to check back at the end of 2012 and compare notes.
Number One: Station 220 located at 220 E. Front St in Bloomington.
If the name doesn’t sound familiar, the location will. It’s the old Central Station under new management and introducing the revitalizing the concept of “farm to fork.” Farm to fork isn’t exactly new. Back in gradma’s day we called it “the norm.” But as mass produced chain restaurants, preservatives and frozen foods grew, the idea of eateries buying fresh, local produce was forgotten.
Station 220 brings back the old days with a modern new menu which promises food that is “globally influenced but locally produced.” Fresh ingredients are brought to restaurant from Epiphany Farm Enterprisesin Downs. EFE promises food produced from “sustainable, beyond organic, environmentally friendly techniques.” EFE supplies Station 220 with vegetables and herbs as well as grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, pigs, turkeys, ducks, hens, and eggs. The chefs at Station 220 also promise fresh, ever-changing and seasonal menus.
Question: A question to for you, Dear Reader. Does the fact that Station 220 has committed to a menu based on the “farm to fork” concept make it a more appealing choice for you? If you’ve dined at Station 220, do you think the fresh, locally grown and organic ingredients are making a difference in the flavor and quality of the food?
Number Two: Americana Farms located in Carlock, IL
When I was a kid, we had a milk man. His name was Bob. He drove a milk truck and delivered fresh milk, eggs and other dairy products to our door two days a week. That was back in the good old days. Today we buy our milk and eggs at the local Mega-mart. I don’t know where Mega-mart gets their stuff.
Americana Farms reinvents the concept of local delivery of fresh farm items produced by a local farmer. Only they’re doing it with eggs. According to their website, AF is raising “cage-free and happy” chickens that lay beautiful big brown eggs. They also have Ameraucanas who lay blue/blue green eggs and Leghorns (did anyone else just have an image of Foghorn Leghorn pop into their head) who lay white eggs. AF makes weekly deliveries in Bloomington-Normal and will bring their wares right to your doorstep for $3.00 per dozen.
Question: A question to for you, Dear Reader. Would it make a difference to you that the eggs you eat are produced by chickens that are not crammed into cages? Besides eggs, is there anything you would be willing to pay extra for if it was guaranteed fresh and delivered right to your door by a local farmer?
Number Three: The Red Oak Comfort Food and Pie Company located at 405 North Main Street in Bloomington.
Remember when grandma would spend an entire day in the kitchen cooking up a delicious casserole? Remember how she always made everything 100% from scratch from the freshest ingredients. Remember how she would always serve up a Rhubarb pie for dessert? The Red Oak Comfort Food and Pie Company looks, smells and tastes just like grandma’s kitchen.
TRO’s business model has two parts. Part one is its downtown dining room which is only open for lunch six days a week. Part two is its home delivery of fresh, homemade menu items for you to heat and serve at your leisure. Think lasagna, Swedish meatballs, and pumpkin pecan pies. TRO promises to make casseroles, soups, pies, and baked goods that are prepared with fresh ingredients and delivered right to your door. No preservatives. No additives. Just good tasting food.
Question: A question to for you, Dear Reader. If you’ve lunched at TRO, what are your thoughts on the taste and price for these old fashioned comfort foods? How important is it to you that your meals are made without preservatives, additives or other processed ingredients?
I’ll include responses from Readers in this space. Leave me a comment or visit my Facebook Page and drop a note. If you know a business that has a unique business model let me know and I’ll write about them in a later piece.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I’m not associated with these businesses and I don’t know the owners or employees. I really don’t know anyone. I pretty much just wander around Bloomington Normal looking for ways to spend my meager money. These are the type of places I sometimes spend it in. No one gives me free stuff to write I about them. I do it because I don’t have many other hobbies and this is what keeps me from watching TV until my eyes bleed.