Small Business Saturday – Toledo

This is my call to you to remember to shop small today. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is small business Saturday, a reminder to seek out your local operations for your Christmas shopping. In Toledo, we have so many opportunities to shop small and find better gifts and goods than at larger cooperations. I think, there is most definitely a place for all of the larger cooperations, but when you have the chance to shop small (which is far more often than you think), you impact your community in huge way. Check out the infographic (not mine) at the bottom, but for your help I have made a very (non-comprehensive) list of businesses that are a small-business alternatives to your holiday season shopping. The company name is a link to more info.

Maddie & Bella | Simply Jess

Toledo Spirits | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Great Black Swamp Brewing Co | Simply Jess

Fowl & Fodder | Simply Jess

How about more unique but great, unforgettable gifts and party offerings:

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

This doesn’t even begin to cover all of the companies we have in the area, but hopefully it will begin to spark thoughts of looking in your own area before you go shopping. It is a great experience to support your local economy, and meet the person who is passionate about the product or good you are purchasing.

And PLEASE if you are excited about other area small businesses share them in the comments below or on the Facebook page (Simply Jess Blog).

Happy Small Business Saturday!

Be Local.

~Jess

 

Click to Enlarge Image

CustomMade Buying Local Infographic

Why Buying Local is Worth Every Cent Infographic by CustomMade

Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream – Small Batch, Toledo Made

I have an answer for your Christmas shopping dilemma. Do you have that person who says they don’t want anything? The person who is impossible to shop for? Need a family gift? Hand crafted, small batch, richly delicious, organic ice cream that is made right here in Toledo, and an ice cream club membership makes an excellent gift. Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream is perfectly unique and classic at the same time. It can be introduced to guests at a dinner, a party, and it makes a great hostess gift because, really, who turns down ice cream, not to mention exquisite ice cream.  

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Rachel started making ice cream as answer to the question of: how is a girl to host dinner parties and still enjoy it herself? Frozen dessert. Throw in personal sized, easy to share containers and voila! You have a treat that your friends are asking you to bring to every event. Well, you have to be awesome at making the ice cream first. Rachel actually quite enjoyed the hobby of making ice cream, trying new flavors on her friends and family. Her hobby became the subject of special requests which sparked the young teacher to begin selling her creations as a passion project.

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

 

Bleak-House coffee, located at 612 Adams St in downtown Toledo, became the primary ice cream crafting location when it re-opened in July of 2014. Since this location has a full sized kitchen, Rachel had the opportunity to expand production for actual sales. Making a full debut at the 2014 Handmade Toledo – Makers Mart last November, this gave a wider group of people the opportunity to try the new products, and people did remember.

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

The warmer spring/summer months provide the farmers market venues, something that Rachel describes as a place she has had a long standing desire to become a merchant. A Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream labeled, mobile freezer cart was a big thing for the business. With the purchase of the mobile freezer, the ice cream could travel to events all over town. 2015 has also brought about some unique opportunities such as a feature dessert offering in the Toledo Food Tours: Downtown Delights Dessert & Art Tour, and to work with locations such as the Paula Brown shop, where ice cream socials brought together delightful cocktail + ice cream combinations.

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

I must say, Rachel inspired ice cream combinations are no joke! Over the summer, my husband and I stopped to buy ice cream from her at the Toledo Farmers Market. In hand, we had an All Crumbs Pretzel Croissant, and while trying to decide what flavor of ice cream to buy, Rachel recommended we try our ice cream with the croissant. Not just along-side, but as an ice cream sandwich of sorts. We tried, we loved! It was a fantastic combination of salty and sweet, flakey/buttery paired with smooth/creamy. Again, while talking with Rachel at Bleak House Coffee for this article, I noticed posted on one of the menu chalkboards “Affogato al Caffè: ice cream and espresso.” Now this too was something I had never thought of, but are two foods I love. I promise you, this was another top notch combination! I’m not trying to write off the traditional apple pie a la mode that so many of us are familiar with, but these new-to-me pairings are definitely ones to add to your food to-do list. How easy would it be to pick up a couple All Crumbs pretzel croissants, and Rachel’s ice cream to serve as a unique dessert the next time you are having visitors? Your guests will be quite pleased.

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Combining ice cream and foods is in large part how Rachel got started, and how many of her flavors come to fruition. Whether it was a taco dinner party that inspired her spicy chocolate, or a love for red velvet cake, Rachel finds a way to create her ice cream flavors with no artificial ingredients or artificial colors. Each flavor is created by breaking it down to the main ingredients of the taste she is trying to emulate; taking it down to the make the recipe as simple as possible always trying to make a salute to the original recipe.

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

All of the ice cream begins with organic dairy, and uses other organic ingredients when possible. So I asked, what is the importance in using such high quality ingredients? First, it’s about the taste. There is a difference in the flavor when you eat a food that places its importance in quality over quantity. When a person tries a high quality product there is an undeniable difference in the experience. It’s better. With her ice cream, the fat content is higher, you don’t need to consume as much to get a truly fulfilling taste and satisfying treat. It is a dense ice cream unlike the whipped varieties you find at the grocery store that just infuse more air into the product and less ingredients. Secondly, using quality ingredients is something ethically important to her. She is the type of business person who would like to offer a product that she can stand behind, “If I wouldn’t eat it, I don’t want to sell it.”

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

This is definitely something every ice cream lover should try! With many traditional, and several non-traditional flavors, there is one for everyone’s liking. The classic flavor lovers and the adventurous alike. Rachel’s also offers a unique ice cream subscription club. This is great for a gift for others, or just for yourself. It’s a one time purchase that provides three-monthly premium ice cream orders. Some have said it is the best e-mail they get all month when the subscriber is notified that their order is ready for pick up. Subscribers are given exclusive flavors not offered to the general public, as well as seasonal and traditional offerings. With two different subscription packages, it is a gift that continues to give and it’s not something that will just get thrown in a junk drawer or returned. You are giving someone the opportunity to try something they may have never experienced on their own. “Many people don’t know what to expect with fall/winter flavors”, says Rachel, but the holiday flavors are especially exciting!

Rachel's Handmade Ice Cream | Simply Jess | Toledo Ohio

Through a small business gift, not only at Christmas, you are supporting growth in your own community. If you are going to buy ice cream anyway, or you are looking for a great ready made dessert, why not take a short drive downtown? Bring awareness to the offerings in your local community. You will undoubtedly be pleased with what you find.

 

Now it’s our turn to bring a gift to you! TA-DA!! Want to try a pint of Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream for yourself? You know you do! You could win  a pint of ice cream in the flavor of your choice to be picked up at Bleak House Coffee. All you have to do: Like the new Simply Jess Facebook page, Share this blog post on Facebook, and Tag a person in the comments below that you would like to share a pint with. Three things! The winner will be announced on Facebook December 1st, and the prize will be available for pick up shortly after. [Dec 1, 2015: Congrats to our winner Heather!]

11231762_10101845064458132_3491813178834377358_o   12304364_10101845096503912_5167430884150922115_o

Enjoy local this season my friends, and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Be Local.

~Jess

Fowl and Fodder: Local Fare, Locally Sourced

When I think of eating local in Toledo, I think of Fowl and Fodder. It’s that straightforward. I know this is the place I can go for a good meal, but the “local” part does not start with a quality sandwich spot on Central Avenue. At Fowl and Fodder, “local” doesn’t even start with the fresh lettuce and the cheese in your salad, the duck in your tacos, the coffee you drink, the carrots in your soup, the fruits and vegetables in the juices, or the bread served with your meal. Local: it starts with the relationships you’ve built.

Fowl & Fodder | SimplyJess

Scott Bowman, the founder and owner of Fowl and Fodder, knows this first hand. With a past college student mindset that there is not much Toledo has to offer, Scott has become one of the key go-to people when it comes to food in the 419.

Scott is no stranger to handcrafted food, never having had mass produced sandwich bread until the age of seven. His grandparents owned a 72 acre farm and his mom cooked homemade meals for her family. To this day, both Scott and his sister enjoy the adventurous side of their home-cooked background. Creating his early career in the chain restaurant business, Scott has worked in the food industry since the age of 16. But it was his passion to create things by hand and his appreciation of quality cooking, that Scott realized he could craft better dishes than many of those he tried elsewhere.

Fowl & Fodder | SimplyJess

He and his wife created a plan to make the move: owning a restaurant despite the opportunities available through the restaurant industry he was already working in. Scott decided to construct something different than anything else Toledo had to offer. He designed three different concepts of restaurants, landing on the idea of a sandwich shop centered around making local food accessible, using the best ingredients possible so anyone can walk in and be able to afford a meal.

Fowl & Fodder | Simply Jess

Two years ago the Bowman’s realized the time was right, and entered into what would be the most stressful time in his life, thus far. Finally, a $20k Kickstarter was developed and Scott hit the pavement, engaging the community in which Fowl and Fodder currently resides. Facebook campaigns, health and wellness food events, support from the Sylvania and Toledo community, hours upon hours of talking with local business owners brought Fowl and Fodder close to fruition, but with days left in the Kickstarter push, they were still short. Just 24 hours before the campaign was to close, a big donor came through and they hit their goal with just 12 hours to spare. With help from family and friends, a good portion of the labor invested in the atmosphere was DIY. The barnwood, barn tin, and chalkboards were found locally, tieing in with the overall theme of the location. Scott’s dad assisted in handcrafting the bucharboard table tops, creating a handsome eating surface for guests. Even a special, drop in guest with strong ties to the original Chipotle locations in Denver, lent an instrumental hand in creating the atmosphere of the dining room by strongly encouraging contemporary drop lights instead of the pre-installed forurescents.

Fowl & Fodder | SimplyJess

Scott spent the first three-plus months trying food from all across the region, looking for collaborators to create the modest but unique menu that the restaurant would offer when they opened. Now, a year and a half later and six menu changes, Scott is proud to say this fall is the best menu offerings they have had thus far.

Fowl & Fodder | SimplyJess

It takes the relationship with the vendors, collaboration, and loyalty to succeed. With approximately 90% of the food supplies coming from Riehm Farms and Shared Legacy Farms, there is a lot of communication that occurs throughout the seasons in order to procure adequate supply for a restaurant and to plan ahead for future menus.  Working together, sharing opinions, and recognizing the passion behind each business creates a network of buy local, grown local focused individuals giving Toledo an identity of community partnership that has tons of potential for growth.

Fowl & Fodder | SimplyJess

Scott also invests a lot of time into food shows and events around the area. If he can give Fowl and Fodder a presence, he does. From trade shows to University Basketball events, the investment is in time and face-to-face contact with people. A new adventure for the business has been working with Churchills, a locally owned grocery store, to create cooking videos to show viewers ways to use local, better quality products. The goal is about working together as a community.

Fowl & Fodder | Simply Jess

This style of restaurant also means that change is inevitable. Change with what can be sourced locally each season, and adaptability to change from the customers too. It pushes Scott, his team, and the patrons to try something new, create something better, and to even just roll with it sometimes. This could be why the clientele is dynamic. Fowl and Fodder sees a lot of regular patrons. “It seems that people either come in three times a week, or have never been here before”, say Scott.  Many people come from out of town to eat here, especially those who are supporters of the eat-local, buy-local movement. With a staff of employees that are just as passionate about the business and what they do, guests are in for a great experience.  

Fowl & Fodder | SimplyJess

I love how this is a place where you can not only feel confident in the quality of the food you are eating, but you are supporting your local community at the same time. The vegetables, the poultry, beef, and fowl are all sourced from farms in our area. This, and the family friendly menu is valuable to many such as frequent flyer, Breena Holt: “Typically I feel very guilty, as a mom, when it comes time to have dinner and I haven’t had enough time, or I simply didn’t plan well. My kids are very hungry and I am at a point where I have to admit that we have to go out. Once Fowl and Fodder opened up, they were my go to! Not only because every meal is full of so many amazing flavors but because they care about the ingredients they cook with. It is such a blessing to take my kids out and truly feel good about what they are eating! Mommy guilt gone and that’s a wonderful feeling!” The passion and pride behind this business is something to stand behind.

Fowl & Fodder | Simply Jess

Fowl and Fodder has so much room for growth. They have expanded their menu and hours several times already, and although Scott is very satisfied and pleased with the direction things are going, he continues to imagine the possibilities for the future.

I truly hope you find Fowl and Fodder as wonderful and truly local as I do.

Be Local.

~Jess