Big Things Ahead for Little EaterBusiness Profiles — By Susan Post on July 5, 2013 at 8:00 am
As her interview with Columbus Underground shows, we can expect to see more of Little Eater and Cara Mangini across Columbus. Her vegetable-based, prepared foods offer a healthy alternative to the typical grab-and-go fair. Columbus’ many local farmers offer a seasonal pipeline of produce to help keep her offerings fresh and interesting.
We recently asked Mangini what it’s like launching a business in Columbus and what she sees for the Future of Little Eater.
Q: What got you interested in becoming an entrepreneur and launching your own business?
A: I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so I think I have always been on a path to owning my own business. I also experienced a good amount of success in the corporate world and always felt like I’d like to create these outcomes for my own company. Ultimately, my mission to create convenient, vegetable-based foods drove me to actually launching my business.
Q: What sort of unique opportunities have you found in launching in Columbus?
A: I realize I am a new kid here, but it does seem that this is a really exciting time to be in Columbus. The food market isn’t yet overly saturated, and there is a supportive community that is open and willing to try new things. For my business specifically, I have been able to partner with local farmers and food producers, and offer them a platform and place to sell their products. You can’t find those perfect matches ready to be made in other cities. It’s a great moment in Columbus to make them.
Q: Do you think there are challenges or drawbacks to operating a food-based business in Columbus?
A: The benefits far outweigh the costs, and for me the challenge is one I am excited to take on. There are a ton of incredible local farms in the area, but there isn’t a sustainable distribution system in place to get all of their produce out to restaurants and food producers in a more convenient way. I am doing a lot of running around town to pick up cucumbers from this farmer and kale from another one. Some day I hope to make one call , like you would now with a big conventional produce distributor, and have all my local and organic produce from a range of farms in the area delivered right to my kitchen. We have to create a system though that works well for the farmer, so that he or she can rely on orders that utilize their production and can get a fair price for their food.
Q: Are there resources, mentors or programs you’ve utilized in getting up and running?
A: The Hills Markets have been extremely supportive in not only hosting my pop-up restaurant last year and again this year, but also for believing in my product enough to give it prominent space in their stores. They are making a real investment in food artisans in this community.
Q: Any other exciting new business development that you have in the works for the near future?
A: We just launched with Green Bean Delivery, so anyone in the Columbus area can get Little Eater Salads delivered straight to their door. I am writing a cookbook about vegetables that will be published by Workman Publishing. I am also looking for a more permanent retail space for Little Eatery.
For more information, visit www.littleeater.com.
Photos by Erin Bloodgood.
Susan is a Staff Writer for TheMetropreneur.com. She has completed several assignments as a Freelance Writer & Editor for clients throughout Central Ohio and loves all the random, fun facts she has learned from them along the way. She holds a degree in Communication with a minor in Professional Writing from The Ohio State University. Susan lives in Victorian Village and loves to run, write, drink coffee and explore all of the great restaurants and bars throughout Columbus.
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