February 2021

Off the Grid Branding its Outdoor Apparel as a Way of Life

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This Company is Branding its Outdoor Apparel as a Way of Life 

Action Sports Lifestyle Company Encouraging Customer to go ‘Off the Grid’

Since the start of the pandemic, outdoor activities, RVing, and camping have become the go-to activity for people everywhere. And as the traditional camping season is ramping up, the Escondido-based outdoor adventure clothing brand, Off the Grid, not only makes quality clothing for outdoor enthusiasts, the team also hopes to inspire its customers to live the outdoor spirit every day. 

“We want to capture the essence of what it looks like to get away from your day-to-day,” said CEO Bobby Klein. 

CEO Bobby Klein and Off the Grid Founder Josh Patterson at pop-up store 

Klein is partnered with Josh Patterson, who started the business in 2013. The two men met at their church, and realized a space in the market for their product. 

But Off the Grid is more than a clothing brand; the company hopes its purpose statement, “to support and inspire connection through adventure,” motivates customers to continue to get outside, enjoy time with family and friends, and most importantly, to continue to do what they love. 

Patterson, who grew up in Escondido, has been an outdoor enthusiast his entire life. “He’s always been an off-road kid,” said Klein. “Going to the desert and the river and enjoying motorsports, has been his lifestyle.” Patterson spent his career working in the lifestyle clothing industry, designing for surf brands Rip Curl and Quicksilver and was the head men’s designer at the Carlsbad-based lifestyle brand Prana before he broke out on his own with Off the Grid.

Off the Grid apparel is made for every terrain

In 2017, Patterson designed and sold the company's now-signature Trailblazer stretch canvas pants through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. The pants were so popular and successful, they sold out in just six weeks. With a background in marketing, Klein soon came on-board as the company's CEO.

Knowing the customer base is what is making their brand so successful. Klein explained, “That’s been a huge part of our company.” 

Off the Grid’s customers include off-roaders, overladders (those who camp with tents on top of their SUVs), climbers, hikers, motocrossers, and RV enthusiasts. Many of them are also military, retired military, and law enforcement. “They want to be off duty in apparel that is very specific to the function of their sport,” said Klein.  

What makes Off the Grid’s apparel so appealing is that the design has all the function with added comfort and a clean, sporty style. “We call it subtle tactical,” said Klein. 

The pants come with a nine-pocket configuration, and an upper hip pocket, spacious enough for a wallet or phone, which is better for the wearer’s back especially on long rides. Zippered leg pockets are also handy to stash valuables and keep them secure. The stretch canvas gives the pants more mobility and comfort for long rides, climbing, and movement. 

Crafty pocket design helps hold every tool safely and comfortably and hideout denim is made for work or play

Lifestyle apparel has become daily wear for many, and while some brands come at a premium price point, Off the Grid strives to keep its price accessible to all customers. “We just made a decision that we wanted to make it accessible to the average guy,” said Klein. “A lot of our guys are bumping up from the Costco or Walmart brand and are saying they are willing to spend the extra money to get the extra function and quality.”  

Shorts, shirts, jackets, and hats round out the clothing options for men. A women’s apparel line is just beginning to come to market with a stylish yet functional pant, and a selection of tops. The Off the Grid logo is a nod to the endurance and grit of the company’s customers. The crossed shovel and ax are important and necessary instruments for these outdoors enthusiasts. 

“Those are super important tools when you’re out on an adventure,” said Klein. 

As these enthusiasts tend to be way off the grid, they need shovels to dig out of messy situations, and the ax, among other things,  helps cut wood for fire. More importantly, these tools represent hard work and perseverance, something that Klein and Patterson feel is at the core of their belief system. The shovel bars logo, which is the company’s shovel/ax logo with flag bars, has recently been added to Off the Grid’s apparel and has been well-received.

Overlanders get both utility and comfort in Off the Grid apparel 

While they have made a name in the off-road community and are sponsors of the ultimate off-road race, King of the Hammers, the company is working to expand its brand and have made Escondido its home base, with a storefront on Grand Avenue, which serves as both primary offices and a showroom.

Like Patterson, Klein grew up in Escondido and he sees the city as an inlet to the desert and the mountains. He also realizes there are many people in the city who are outdoor enthusiasts as well.

“So there’s been a resurgence of the outdoor industry, our shorts became our best-selling item during this year of COVID,” said Klein. He emphasized that the storefront location is maintaining the highest COVID standards. “We are being COVID safe. We stay at 15-20% capacity, offer hand sanitizers, and we give away masks at the door.” 

Off the Grid is one of numerous action sports and lifestyle brands that populate the 78-Corridor. Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development, said Escondido, which is surrounded by nature, is the perfect backdrop for a company like Off the Grid. 

“From the beautiful lakes, mountains and deserts, any outdoor activity is just a short car ride away. Having Off the Grid on Grand gives residents and visitors a place to access outdoor clothing just before they head out for an adventure.” she said.

Meanwhile, Klein hopes to use the storefront as a place to help build community.“We want to work with the City to have an off-road night,” he said, hoping it could somehow happen in conjunction with Cruisin’ Grand

In the meantime, Klein and Patterson are using their online presence to connect with their customers. Klein is blogging about getting off social media and getting outdoors, while sometime this spring Patterson will be documenting his training for the King of the Hammers, which he hopes to compete in.

“For us, Off the Grid is a state-of-mind,” Klein said. 

Adventures Await within Escondido

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy the outdoors. There are many parks and campgrounds nearby for campers, fishers, hikers, and more. Dixon Lake, has year-round camping opportunities, shoreline and boat fishing, hikes, trails, and climbing options for permitted climbers. Some activities have been suspended due to the pandemic. Check the website for reservations and COVID-19 updates.

Off the Grid is located at 157 E. Grand Avenue, Ste. 100. For more information call 442-257-2847



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Escondido Creek Trail Improvements Have Been Granted!

More and more, cities are pursuing improved access to urban trails and pathways as part of their planning and development strategies. These trails are seen as critical contributors to local quality of life as well as economic development. 

One such urban trail in the City of Escondido is the Escondido Creek Trail (ECT), an approximately six-mile urban trail that runs east to west from the Escondido Humane Society to Harmony Grove and throughout the downtown area. It is open to pedestrians and cyclists and is accessible at street crossings and access points. The ECT has primarily been a transportation outlet for bicyclists and walking commuters. 

Rendering of the Escondido Creek Trail signage. 

Thanks to a state grant, the vision to turn the ECT into a linear park began over a decade ago and is now nearing its reality.

In 2020, the City was awarded $8.5 million to make improvements for the ECT from the California Department of Parks & Recreation through the Prop 68 Parks & Water Bond Act of 2018, which aims to create new parks and recreation opportunities in underserved communities across California. 

Out of 478 applications, statewide, 62 projects were awarded, and the ECT was one of only nine projects funded at the maximum $8.5 million and one of three projects funded in San Diego County.

Map of the Escondido Creek Trail.

The goal is to transform the trail into both a transportation outlet and a recreational park. The project will include improvements on 4.5 miles of the trail (between Harmony Grove Road and Midway Drive) and add nearly 0.4 miles of a new bicycle path (between Harmony Grove Road and Midway Drive). It will also create a double-sided trail on nearly 1.7 miles, one for bikers and one for walkers. 

Since the award was granted, City outreach through stakeholder meetings, surveys, and social media has been underway to incorporate community ideas and feedback regarding the improvements. Additionally, an informative web page is available to answer questions and provide feedback

“The improvements to the trail are going to be transformative and give our citizens a boost in quality of life as more and more people flock outdoors,” said Danielle Lopez, Assistant Director of Community Services. 

Lopez added even though the pandemic has made meetings more difficult to schedule, they have had community input on the project. Community feedback and comments include the desire to make the trail safer. One way to do that is to replace the fencing.

“It’s counterintuitive, but the fencing makes people feel like they are enclosed on the trail,” said Lopez. “We will be replacing it with cable link fencing or split rail.” Lighting, new landscaping, water bottle filler stations, recreation amenities, pocket parks for children, butterfly gardens, a bike ramp, and skate features, as well as murals and public art, will be added along the trail. 

One of the goals is to make the ECT family-friendly. 

“We want to allow for parents and kids who live on the other side of town to get to Washington Park or walk down to Grape Day Park and play on the new play structure or come visit the History Center or the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum,” said Lopez. 

Anna Villalobos, Customer Service Representative for Escondido’s Economic Development added, “It’s nice to be able to have access without being on the street.” She said she often rides bikes on the path with her family and feels it is safer than using street access to get places. She also hopes getting the word out about the trail’s usefulness and upgrades will be beneficial to the City. 

The City is currently working with design consultant RRM Design Group to design the new look of the trail. There will be another community workshop scheduled in March before the construction planning phase starts and will continue through the end of the year. Construction will begin in January 2022 and has a two-year timeframe to completion. 

The City is encouraging businesses along the ECT to orient their stores toward the trail to help boost sales from increased customer traffic along the trail. Shifting business entrances toward the trail will allow trail users to more easily be able to stop in for a snack or coffee. 

“The Escondido Creek Trail is an outlet for neighborhoods to connect with our local business community,” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “Our goal is to work with businesses along the trail to face customer entrances toward the trail.  This will make it even easier to entice new and existing customers to access their stores and businesses while using these wonderful new trail amenities.” 

Rendering of the ECT along business areas with murals painted along the route.

Ideas such as expanding outdoor dining to face the trail or creating murals on their walls that overlook the trail have been discussed.“We want our business community to feel connected to the trail and use it to increase foot traffic in the area,” Tarrac added.

Businesses along the trail are encouraged to reach out to the Economic Development Division with questions regarding what they can do to help highlight the trail and its access to their businesses. Tarrac also hopes many will continue to participate in the surveys, and attend the final workshop meetings to discuss the designs and plans for the trail.

“Community and business engagement are essential to the success of the Escondido Creek Trail,” she said. “We hope everyone will consider taking part in the discussions to ensure that we reimagine a trail that will continue to improve and enhance our great city.”

The community and businesses are invited to find out more information or to view past workshops in English and Spanish on the Escondido Creek Trail website.

The next community meeting will be posted on the website once it is scheduled. If you have questions or feedback about the trail or wish to get involved, you are invited to submit your feedback here.

Your participation is valued and appreciated.

January 2021

These Side-by-Side Eateries are Serving Classic Favorites and Fusing New Flavors

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These Side-by-Side Eateries are Serving Classic Favorites and Fusing New Flavors 

Last year presented many of us with unparalleled challenges. While many struggled to pivot their businesses to meet these challenges, others found opportunities to dive in and start new ventures altogether. 

One new business that has found success is Escondido-based The Barking Dog Deli (formerly the Continental Deli) at 120 Kalmia Street and its next-door restaurant Fusion on the corner of Kalmia and Gand, which is set to open mid-January. Both restaurants are owned and operated by friends Jamie Horgan and Jenny Hwang. Their friendship began 10 years ago when Jamie and her husband, John - design-build contractors by trade - designed Hwang’s sushi bar Ginza Sushi in Rancho Bernardo. That friendship has since evolved into a business partnership. 

“We found out this property was for lease, we told Jenny about it, and things just evolved from there,” said Horgan, whose husband also helps run the eateries. The Barking Dog Deli serves sandwiches, delicious salads, soups, hamburgers, pizza, and of course, hot dogs. Horgan’s favorite dish is the California Salad. “It has lots of greens, all kinds of different fruits, and a citrus vinaigrette,” she said. “It’s a lovely salad and I like it with grilled chicken added.”

Delicious salad & sandwiches selections from The Barking Dog Deli

Along with people's food, the deli also serves specially made human-grade dog food and treats, including a doggy pizza, a burger, grilled chicken and chicken liver brownies. A full deli case of homemade dog treats will be available starting in January. Horgan’s first passion is dogs. She is the director of the dog rescue Dog Squad Rescue in San Diego and a portion of the dog food sales from the deli will go to the non-profit.

The Barking Dog Deli officially opened on November 11, 2020. Even though they opened during the pandemic, the women felt hopeful that at the time, the pandemic was nearing its end. “It was during the pandemic, but we thought everything was getting better and we had a great opportunity to get into a great piece of real estate here in Escondido,” said Horgan. Fusion, which is next door and shares an outdoor courtyard, was scheduled to open in December just before the second shutdown. “We ordered our food for the restaurant and were ready and able to open, then they shut everything down again,” Horgan said.

Mouthwatering burgers and pizza surrounded by one of a kind murals  

Fusion’s menu is a mix of classic dishes such as hamburgers and veggie lasagna and fusion meals such as bulgogi (a thinly sliced Korean marinated prime steak) pizza and fries.“We are currently testing bulgogi nachos with a fresh wasabi cheese sauce,” Horgan added. Diners who eat in the courtyard can order from either menu and once the dining orders have been lifted, the courtyard will be open for service.

Until then, both eateries offer their entire menu to-go and since opening have seen a lot of support from the City, especially from Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development, Amber Tarrac.“Amber came in and asked if there was anything she could do to help us,” said Horgan, adding that Tarrac helped her with social media contacts, and permits to allow for more outdoor seating. “She has been the greatest help.”

“It’s inspiring to see people starting new businesses and investing in our City during the pandemic,” Tarrac said. “We are here to help them succeed and I’m glad that the Horgans and Hwang have decided to bring their culinary talents to Escondido. We look forward to supporting their success. "

Horgan added that many City employees and management have ordered food from their restaurants and is grateful for the support. She has been posting dishes on social media sites such as the Barking Dog Deli Facebook, and local sites such as Escondido Eats, the Escondido Eats FaceBook group, and Everything Escondido.

                                                                                        Beautiful image of Escondido artist Mauro Alvarez’s mural

As word-of-mouth spreads and brings in new customers, so does the curiosity about the wall mural outside. It was painted by Escondido artist and friend of the Horgans, Mauro Alvarez. “Mauro is a friend of ours and he offered to paint it for us,” Horgan said. “We have also commissioned him to do a mural on the ceiling in the bar.”

Alvarez said the mural depicts a fusion of the Oceanside Pier and an 80s pop art style. He is a self-taught artist who creates commissioned works for private clients. One of his other works in Escondido is a mural dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant at Country Club Barbershop on Grand.

Other art pieces by local artists are hung throughout both restaurants. “We are inviting local artists to put their art on our walls,” said Horgan. She says sales from the art will be donated to the rescue or other non-profits. She added that she realizes there are many people in need right now and she wants to help. “If there’s any way we can give back, we will,” she said.  Local artists can inquire with Horgan about displaying their works. 

Looking ahead, Horgan is hopeful that people will be allowed to dine out again and enjoy community gatherings.“I hope that everybody is healthy. That we can put the pandemic behind us and just open our doors, and be able to spend time with friends, family, and engage in our community.”

The Barking Dog Deli is located at 120 Kalmia Street and Fusion is located at 201 E. Grand Avenue. Call ahead 760-294-1985 for to-go orders.




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What’s Brewing at Manzanita Roasting

Escondido Locals are Blending and Branding Quality Roasts and Check-Out Bonus Social Media Tips and Tricks

Manzanita Roasting on the corner of Grand and Juniper

While many spent 2020 working from home, couple Weston and Samantha Nawrocki discovered the perks of opening a new business closer to home. In November, they opened  Manzanita Roasting at 301 E. Grand.

“It’s just two minutes away from my house,” said Samantha whose family are the third-generation owners of Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo. “It’s a good time to be opening because people want to go out for coffee. They want that 15 minute or half-hour interaction to grab a cup and sit outside.”

Local pups enjoying a coffee break with their person

The current state order doesn’t allow indoor seating but customers are sitting outside at the park across the street as well as taking their orders to go. 

“Manzanita Roasting was one of the 696 new Escondido-based businesses that applied for a business license from March 1 through November 23, 2020 during the pandemic.  This is a tribute to the resilience and perseverance of the Escondido community to forge ahead and build a business they can be proud of right here in our City,” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. 

In addition to getting a hot cup of coffee or packaged coffee at the coffee shop, Manzanita Roasting also provides a subscription model that gives customers a home delivery option. 

Team Manzanita choice subscription allows you to choose your preferred coffee option

Samantha said, “The subscription started during the first lockdown.” People became interested in Weston’s local roasting and the couple found they were delivering to people for free as a way to get out of the monotony of lockdown and to do something with their, as Samantha put it, “our nervous energy.” As a result, customers got hooked on Weston’s blends and the subscription model was created.

Manzanita Roasting owners Weston and Samantha Nawrocki

Weekly or monthly orders are available with many blend options. “You can get our blend, the blend of the month, or the roaster’s choice, which is usually something fun from one of our new farms,” said Samantha who added, “We ship all around the country and an order of two bags or more ships free.”

Weston, who is a chef and accomplished Sommelier, is now master roaster, roasting beans from independently-owned small farms in Africa, South America and Central America. 

Every cup is made with love 

“It’s just really good, quality locally roasted coffee, that’s sourced,” said Samantha. “What my husband does is kind of upping the game, he’s always roasting it better and better, making sure that he gets the perfect sweetness from the coffee.”

The couple, who live in Historic Escondido, love that they have been able to open a coffee shop in their hometown. It’s their second cafe, their other location is on the Bernardo Winery grounds. They also feel the Escondido community has been extremely supportive since they opened. 

“The community’s really behind us. Everybody is coming out to support small businesses like ours,” said Samantha, who mentioned that even Mayor McNamara sent an email welcoming them.  City leaders have also trickled in to say hi and welcome them. “They have all said welcome and that they are here to support us with whatever we need.” One of those needs was to repaint the curb outside the cafe which ended up providing closer parking for customers. 

“They’ve just gone above and beyond,” Samantha added. “I feel like the support has just breathed a little more life into the streets and downtown.”

Manzanita Roasting is open daily 

Branding Beyond Coffee

Samantha feels this kind of support enhances the City and combined with the marketing efforts Escondido is embracing, will continue to make it a great place to live and do business.

Samantha who has run the successful marketing campaign for Bernardo Winery is now marketing her coffee shop. She is also planning to work with the City to host an online workshop on how businesses can promote themselves in today’s market on social media. She feels social media is a great way to promote any type of business. “I don’t like to see a business struggle because they don’t know how to use social media tools,” Samantha said. 

Samantha has some pro tips on how to use social media to promote any type of business:

Focus on Instagram

Unlike Facebook, which Samantha says is limited and only gives you an audience to the people who follow you, Instagram reaches a wider audience and by using hashtags smartly and often, the audience will widen even more.

Commit to Post Daily

Samantha suggests posting something every day on your feed or story and making sure the images are very clear and relevant to the post. 

Limit Your Marketing Message

While this might seem counterproductive, limiting your marketing message to every 10-to-12 posts, you will create a following of people who find your business interesting and want to know your story. Samantha added this is especially important for the millennial crowd. “You’ll lose their interest if you are constantly posting, buy this, buy that.”

Let Your Followers Get to Know You

“Take pictures, introduce yourself and your employees,” she said. Don’t be afraid to be a real person with real things going on in your life.” Followers want to relate to you and understand how you live and do business, she said.

Be Relevant

Story, photos, and effective hashtags can do wonders to boost your audience and get people talking about your business. Product hashtags will represent whatever you are selling, niche hashtags connect you within your industry, and community hashtags connect you with people around you. Special events and seasonal hashtags will also help connect you with others who participate in or sell timely products.

You are Never Too Old for Social Media 

Samantha emphasized that older adults should give social media a try. She said that with their knowledge and experience, they could gain a lot of followers who are looking for that expertise. She said not to just hand off your social media account to a younger person just because you think they might be more comfortable on the platform.  Remember, it’s free advertising!

For Samantha, social media has also proven to be extremely helpful during the pandemic. It has helped customers stay aware of the status of businesses like hers. “Are you open, are you closed, people are relying on social media to know what the status is of businesses,” she said. And it has also helped many find ways to support their local businesses. 

For now, she and her husband would like to let their community know they are happy to be here and don’t plan to go anywhere. “This is our home; we’re planted,” she said. “Our passion is to be here.”

Manzanita Roasting is located at 301 E. Grand Street. For more information contact them at info@manzanitaroasting.com

December 2020

Recipe for Success: Escondido Eats Expands into December

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Recipe for Success: Escondido Eats Expands into December, Giving Local Small Businesses Hope for the Holidays.


The November success of the Escondido Eats, “Fill Your Plate, Fill Your Heart” program has been extended into December with “Escondido Eats 25 Days To-Go,” which is proactive and timely considering the recently imposed three-week shutdown.  This restaurant-focused event has been reimagined by the City and Escondido Chamber of Commerce and the successful Escondido Eats program and working in conjunction with the Downtown Business Association. The event runs through Dec. 25.

Many restaurants will continue to participate in the event with to-go specialty plates, family meal deals, drinks and discounts. Additionally, local retailers will participate this month selling everything from craft-beers and vinegars to hand-made jewelry, art, antiques, and homegoods. 

“Local businesses are the backbone of our community.  The people behind the businesses -the owners, the employees, the customers, and the City team - are what make Escondido so special,” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development.

“Escondido Eats, a homegrown City idea, has taken off with the Chamber and Downtown Business Association’s support and has over 7,200 members in the Escondido Eats FaceBook group engaging with new restaurants and retail shops daily.  We thank the community for their support of Escondido Eats - Fill your plate, fill your heart in November.  For December, we bring you Escondido Eats - 25 Days To-Go for the community to support our local retailers, breweries, wineries, and restaurants by shopping local for your holiday gifts and food with curbside pickup and purchasing gift cards or gift certificates and to-go orders.”  

James Rowten, President and CEO of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce, added, “The program has increased awareness to participating Escondido restaurants, bringing much needed relief to the local restaurant industry. This collaborative effort combines the reach of the Downtown Business Association and the Escondido Chamber of Commerce and was sparked by the City’s desire to support local businesses.”

Below, we take a look at a couple of local businesses that are participating in Escondido Eats - 25 Days To-Go.

Tea Time at Home

The Grand Tea Room on Grand Avenue is known for its elegant and festive tea parties and dinner shows, but with the closures imposed on restaurants this month, owner Louisa Magoon has shifted her business to offer tea parties to-go. 

During the 25 Days To-Go promotion, Magoon is offering a 10% discount to anyone who orders from the menu or makes a purchase at the gift shop, and mentions the community program.

“It’s so important that we support our businesses,” said Magoon, a member of the    Escondido Chamber of Commerce and the secretary for the Downtown Business Association. 

She said she really loves the name for this event. “I think it is a very clever and catchy name. I think they probably anticipated that this was going to happen.”

The Grand Tea Room on Grand Avenue. Courtesy Photo. 

While Magoon didn’t anticipate another shut-down, she is prepared to continue to offer her delicious tea party menu to-go.  Customers can order any of the tea options from the menu and the to-go order will include beautifully constructed cardboard tiers in silver, gold, or pink that can be used to place the tea sandwiches and treats.

Magoon first used these tiers for Mother’s Day take-out orders back in May. “You put your tier together and have all your pretty food out and it’s lovely,” she said. While at-home tea parties might not be as eloquent as they are in the Grand Tea Room, Magoon has some suggestions to enhance the presentation. “Have a little vase with flowers, and make sure you set the table. Use really nice China,  silver, and have cute little napkins,” she said.

This is a delicious season to order a to-go tea party. “We have some really great teas now, ginger and chai, Autumn Leaves (cinnamon, apple, and cranberry), pumpkin creme, and a pumpkin chai,” Magoon said. 

Included in the tea order is a cup of fruit, three tea sandwiches, a scone with all the toppings, a savory choice of quiche or Shepherd’s pie, and four little desserts per person. Some of the seasonal desserts are pumpkin cupcakes, pecan bars, and apple trifles.  Magoon is hopeful that the shutdown won’t be as long as the last one and she stressed that she hopes people continue to order out. “I just want to encourage people to support our local businesses,” she said. 

The Grand Tea Room is located at 145 W. Grand Avenue. To place an order, call 760-233-9500.

Sunny Winter Treats

“Small businesses are really feeling the love,” said Kate Carpenter, owner of Sunnyside Kitchen. She and her husband Bob have been running the fresh, homemade California cuisine restaurant for just over five years. “We’re so grateful to have everybody looking out for us.” 

They are extending their gratitude by participating in 25 Days To-Go with a special that might help last-minute gift-givers. Carpenter explained, “If you buy a $20 gift certificate, a hat, or one of our travel tumblers, you get a $5 gift card.”  Carpenter said her customers have quickly adjusted once again to the stay-home order and ordering food-to-go. “This time around people are ready because they did it before,” she said.

Sunnyside Kitchen’s box lunch is very popular with companies that are feeding their essential workers throughout the week. These include a sandwich, a side of orzo, and a pickle slice. Cookies can be added as well. 

Family meals will also be available again. Some of the eatery’s most popular meals are meatloaf, mushroom chicken, turkey, and the noodle bake. All meals can be made to order and many are gluten-free. “We will be serving our Thanksgiving salad (which has turkey and craisins) through the end of the year,” said Carpenter. 

 Now is a great time to order at Sunnyside Kitchen because   the winter menu includes some yummy treats. “Our   cinnamon rolls which are very popular are continuing     through the year too,” Carpenter said. They are available on   Saturdays, unless specially ordered ahead of time.

Also available on Saturdays are homemade gingerbread cookies and the exclusive “Christmas Crack” treat with toffee, chocolate, and crackers. “It’s a fun little addicting treat,” said Carpenter.

Orders can be placed online or by phone and specialty orders should be placed a day in advance. 


December specialty treats include gingerbread cookies and “Christmas Crack” from Sunnyside Kitchen.

As this year comes to an end, Carpenter explained it all: “It’s been a very challenging year. We’ve all suffered a little and triumphed a little and had to figure things out as we went. But it’s really nice, especially this year, that we can all be on the same page and help each other.”

Sunnyside Kitchen is located at 155 S. Orange Street. To place an order call 760-294-4450.


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Bring Sweet and Savory to Your Holiday This Season

Kismet Refining Company is Creating Traditional Vinegars for Food and Drinks

This holiday season, consider making something old new again when it comes to your food and drink menu. Husband and wife team Greg and Chelsea Enright may have some ideas for you. The Escondido entrepreneurs are creating rich, flavorful vinegars using the methods developed in Modena, Italy, where traditional balsamic vinegar has been produced for generations.

Founders Greg and Chelsea Enright. Courtesy Photo.

The duo traveled to Italy in 2016 and learned how to create flavorful, authentic vinegars.

Since then, the Enrights have opened Kismet Refining Company, a business they named after their beloved dog who they rescued. Kismet is a boutique refinery that creates quality craft balsamic and shrub vinegars for culinary and cocktail creations using traditional methods and the authentic Italian production style to create a much purer product than what is currently found in most balsamics throughout the US.

“True balsamic, is 100% grapes that are processed and then aged for a minimum of 25 years,” Greg said. 

Vinegar has been used in culinary dishes and in cocktails since ancient times. Balsamics, which are dark purple and syrupy, have a sweet tangy flavor, and are used in meals from sautees to salads, or as marinades. They are also a popular dipping delight when mixed with oils. Shrub vinegars are vinegars made from fruits fermented until they produce their own vinegar. Like balsamics, they tend to also have a sweet tartness that is excellent when added to a mixed drink. 

No matter how Kismet’s vinegars are used, the Enrights want their product to be about taste first. “Our pursuit is always just about making things that taste delicious and have a wide range of uses,” Greg said.


A selection of Kismet Refining Company’s vinegars. Courtesy Photo.

Their most popular balsamic is the black garlic balsamic. “This is pretty much the cornerstone of our vinegars,” Greg said, adding that with it’s sweet, nutty flavor even a small amount splashed on a dish as it’s plated will elevate the flavors of the entire meal.  

In December, the couple will debut a new balsamic called Tempranillo, named after the tempranillo grape, a dark-colored grape that usually comes from Spain or Portugal.

Kismet’s shrub vinegars make a perfect addition to sparkling drinks and cocktails. “We like to make Sunday Funday Bloody Mary’s with a mixture of our vinegars,” Greg said.

Sunday Funday Bloody Mary Recipe

  1 oz Celery Vinegar

  2 oz Tomato Vinegar

  1 oz Black Garlic Vinegar

  4 oz Tomato Juice

  2 oz Vodka

 A splash of Worcestershire sauce

 A dash of Ground Pepper

 Shake and pour over ice in a glass.

A nice holiday drink he suggests uses their hibiscus vinegar. “The hibiscus vinegar is really nice and tart. It has a sharp kick and works really great with cranberry. Mixed with sparkling cranberry water and maybe a splash of gin, the next thing you know, you’ve got a really great holiday cocktail.”

Spiced Cranberry Hibiscus Winter Cocktail

    2oz   Hibiscus vinegar

    1oz   Ginger vinegar

    1 oz  Triple sec

    4oz   Cranberry juice

    2oz   Spiced rum

    Dash of nutmeg

    1  Cinnamon stick and star anise for garnish

    Mix all ingredients together, except garnish spices. 

    For a warm winter cocktail:

  • Heat on the stovetop or in a mug in the microwave until hot. 
  • Add garnish

   For a chilled cocktail:

  • Shake with ice and pour into a chilled glass. 
  • Add garnish

The recipe easily scales up for sharing or making for a party!

Kismet vinegars are being used in mocktails and cocktails at The Plot restaurant in Oceanside. And the couple is working with Chef Stone at Plan 9 Alehouse, who adds their balsamics to select menu items. “We were featured on their Valentine’s Day menu,” Greg said. “Chef Stone has been a really good asset to bounce ideas off of.”

The Enright’s have been a two-person operation since they began producing vinegars in 2019. Producing vinegar is a long and arduous process. When they began, they started barrelling vinegars that will continue fermenting for several years. “We have long-term goals and plans,” Greg said.

He added the pandemic gave them time to really build out their business. “The pandemic allowed more time to be devoted to establishing Kismet Refining Company and working towards completing a transition from hobby to sustainable business as I was furloughed from working a full-time job.”

From March 1, 2020 through November 23, 2020, the City of Escondido received 696 new business license applications for Escondido-based businesses, many of which are home occupations.  Entrepreneurs in the City who may have been laid off or had hours reduced due to the pandemic are starting new businesses.  Kismet Refining Company is a great example of one of these home occupation businesses, which is run from the couple’s home, including fermentation tanks, barrel storage, and bottling.

Vinegar barrels in the fermenting process. Courtesy photo.

That was one of the reasons they chose to start their business in Escondido. “It was easy to operate under the cottage food laws,” explained Enright. “And so we’ve been building our entire production in and around our home.” 

Cottage food laws in San Diego County allow small food businesses the opportunity to prepare and/or package non-potentially hazardous foods in their home and sell them indirectly or directly to the public. Enright admitted that with the growth of their business they are running at near capacity. 

“Escondido is one of the most business-friendly cities in North County,” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “The City is always available to help new businesses find ways to establish themselves and grow. Many businesses here in our City have started with an idea in a home kitchen or garage and have grown to become successful companies.  

The Enrights feel they have established themselves in the perfect reason. “Escondido has been an asset in a variety of ways from being centrally located with access to the North County farming communities, the coast, and the City as well as being an up-and-coming area in San Diego County with many opportunities for growth.” Greg said. “We've often driven Grand Avenue and imagined what a storefront/production facility would look like. We're especially thankful for the support Escondido has given to small businesses during this challenging season with the small business grants.”

As their business is growing, so is their family. The Enright’s welcomed their first child, daughter Marin Joy on Halloween, the couple’s favorite holiday. Looking ahead to next Halloween, Enright hopes to add some sort of pumpkin spice flavored vinegars to their offerings. 

Kismet is one of the Escondido businesses that are participating in Escondido Eats 25 Days To-Go, a continuation of November’s Escondido Eats event which now includes local businesses such as Kismet. The event runs from December 1-25. 

Kismet vinegars are available for sale in the cut shop at Plan 9 Alehouse. Additionally, Kismet products can be purchased from Market Box, an El Cajon online Farmer’s Market that sells local San Diego products, or directly on the Kismet website.

Direct orders can be delivered to any location within the county and pickups are by appointment only.


November 2020

Eat, Drink, and Help Your Community Escondido Eats presents “Fill Your Plate, Fill Your Heart” throughout the month of November.

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Eat, Drink, and Help Your Community

Escondido Eats presents “Fill Your Plate, Fill Your Heart” throughout the month of November.


From November 2-22, the Escondido Chamber of Commerce and the Escondido Downtown Business Association are hosting Escondido Eats - formerly titled “Dine Out Escondido.” 

“The program is designed to increase awareness and attract customers to participating Escondido restaurants to help bring much needed relief to the local restaurant industry. This collaborative effort combines the reach of the Downtown Business Association and the Escondido Chamber of Commerce and was sparked by the City of Escondido's desire to support local restaurants,” said James Rowten, President and CEO of the Escondido Chamber of Commerce.

This fundraising event includes restaurants throughout the city that participate by creating event specials and select menu items for diners to enjoy, and $1 from these meals will be donated to the North County Food Bank.  “This fun event gives Escondido residents and visitors a chance to try new restaurants as well as their favorite spots, while also giving back to the community,” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “As more and more people are dining out again, it’s the perfect time to showcase Escondido restaurants.”

Alex MacLachlan, President of Escondido Downtown Business Association said “Most of our downtown restaurants will be participating in this event, with a handful creating a signature dish during the event's three-week period.”

MacLachlan added the timing of this event works well because charitable causes appeal to patrons during the holiday season and the event will bring holiday shoppers to the area.   

Two restaurants participating this year are BAPS! Restaurant and The Flying Toad.  

Two Brads Bring Flavor and Service to Family-Friendly Dining

Brad Allen Pelletier and Brad Allen Sulley co-own BAPS!, the name of which was derived from their initials. Just off the 15 freeway at Centre City Parkway, the American-fusion restaurant brings fresh, quality meals to residents and travelers. 

“We came across this location in Escondido and fell in love with it,” said Sulley. “It’s right off the freeway, and it’s a stand-alone with plenty of parking.”

Pelletier, who is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, preps every meal from scratch with fresh ingredients. Pelletier and Sulley were friends for years and both dreamed of opening their own restaurant. They opened a food booth and catering service in Oceanside at Sunset Market and opened BAPS! in December 2019.

BAPS! serves a perfect Eggs Benedict.

Even with pandemic and re-opening restrictions, the two Brads have found ways to adjust. “We have a ton of outdoor dining with covered seating. Plus we have misters for the heat and heaters for the cold,” Sulley said.

BAPS! is participating in Escondido Eats this year with a pizza special. Anyone who orders pizza and mentions Escondido Eats will get $2 off their order, and $1 will be donated to the fundraiser. 

Fundraising is something important to Pelletier and Sulley. “We have always been charity-minded,” said Sulley.

Since opening, the duo has created several fundraisers. So far, they have donated to local little league baseball, provided surprise dinners to frontline workers at the fire station, Palomar Medical Center, and markets in Escondido, and helped a local retired teacher who was in need. Both Brads were raised by single parents and are working on a future special service for single-parent families.

A sampling of the Thanksgiving Dinner Special, available for orders now.

In addition to participating in Escondido Eats, BAPS! offers a daily meal prep service and is taking orders for itsThanksgiving Dinner Special, complete with all the traditional fixings. 

BAPS! Restaurant is located at 2680 S. Escondido Blvd and can be reached at 949-393-2723. 

French Cuisine with Traditional Comforts

A delicious bowl of French onion soup.

Whether you are in the mood for French delicacies like frog legs and escargot or comfort foods such as French onion soup or pot pie, you can order it at The Flying Toad on Grand Avenue. The sister restaurant to Vincent’s on Grand, The Flying Toad offers the same quality dining created by Chef Brandon Hunsaker, with a diversified menu, at a reduced price. 

Owner Jeannette McBrearty purchased Vincent’s in November 2019 and opened The Flying Toad shortly after the pandemic to create a simpler take-out menu and more casual dining. With a limited indoor capacity allowance, McBrearty said City support has helped.

“The City is allowing us to utilize sidewalk seating, so we are closer to our normal numbers,” she said.

Owner Jeannette McBrearty (left) and Chef Brandon Hunsacker.

The Flying Toad is participating in Escondido Eats this year with free bread and soup specials. “Our chef makes a lot of soups in November, so we are offering some at a discounted price after 7:45 pm, sort of a reverse soup happy hour,” said McBrearty.

One special is the starter size split pea soup with a croque monsieur (ham and cheese sandwich). Other November soups are French onion, Thai curry, and a full-sized shrimp ramen not included in the special.

McBrearty and her family have lived in Escondido since 2001. Her husband Chris works at Fairway Independent Mortgage in Escondido. This is McBrearty’s first venture in the restaurant world, and she said she was drawn to it after planning parties and cooking for six children. 

“I’m very familiar with organizing parties. So when you come into my restaurant, it’s fun and amazing,” she said.

That spirit is reflected in the mid-century decor and Chef’s creative menu selections that are changed monthly. 

Outdoor seating allows guests to dine in comfort.

McBrearty said, “I feel like once you come here, you’re going to keep coming back because of the unique flavors and the atmosphere. It’s so different from anything else in Escondido.”

All orders are available for take out. In addition to November’s Escondido Eats specials, The Flying Toad will be offering pick-up meals on Thanksgiving including turkey pot pie, roast duck, and prime rib. 

The Flying Toad is located at 113 W. Grand Avenue. They can be reached at 760-705-8013.

Additional participating restaurants for Escondido Eats can be found here.

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Longtime Friends are Crafting New Brews in Escondido

Anthony Tallman, Derek van Leeuwen, and Matthew Zirpolo, classmates at La Costa Canyon in Carlsbad, always hoped to someday own their own brewery. After college, Tallman became a brewer at Stone Brewing Company, van Leeuwen went into manufacturing, and Zirpolo applied his college degree and worked in marketing. Soon, they realized that by working together, they could create the brewery they dreamed about in high school.

“With our three skill sets, we decided that we would be a great team,” said Zirpolo. “So we created a business plan.”

High School Pals and Brewing Partners Matthew Zirpolo, Derek van Leeuwen, and Anthony Tallman.

In 2016 they launched Burgeon Beer Company in Carlsbad and on November 20, they will be expanding with a new brewery in Escondido. 

“We are very excited to be moving here and to be part of the community,” said Zirpolo, who was, until recently, the former president of the San Diego Brewers Guild, and knows the impact local breweries can have in their communities.

“It’s an organization that really supports its members,” he said. “They work to make sure breweries have all the resources to be successful, and they foster a cohesive mentality among everyone here in San Diego. It’s the ‘rising tide lifts all ships' mentality. We really create a great culture for craft beer in San Diego county.”

That sense of support came to the Burgeon team as fellow brewers were tapping out. 

Burgeon will be occupying the space left by Escondido Brewing Company, which came to an end in June. After three successful years, the Escondido Brewing Company team decided to close their doors largely because of issues surrounding the pandemic. Zirpolo said he and his partners are good friends with the former owners and were approached to take over the space when they decided to shut down. “They came to us with the opportunity to open in their space, and we are honored to be here,” said Zirpolo.

When one door closes, another opens, and Escondido officials were more than happy to welcome the trio’s new brewery.  “Local craft breweries give our communities a place to meet and celebrate, and their localized craft beers bring a sense of pride to the area,” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development.  “We are so glad to welcome Burgeon Beer Company, and are happy they are using this space to expand their business and bring our city a place to continue to enjoy craft beers.” 

The central location of the new brewery on Rock Springs Road is close to both the 78 and 15 freeways, and is near the downtown train and bus stations, making it accessible for both residents and guests.

The team has been working hard to transform the space into their own. “Burgeon means to grow,” Zirpolo said . At the new Escondido location, branded The Oasis, the “growth” theme will be incorporated throughout the brewery, with features such as live edge wood tables and counters, green elements, and an earthy aesthetic similar to the design of their Carlsbad location.

The completely outdoor brewery designed like a traditional beer garden, will have 12 taps to serve craft beers and a pilot brewing system, which allows for smaller-batch and specialty beers. Additionally, local craft food trucks will rotate at the location to serve dishes that pair well with the craft beers on tap. Harvest Kitchen will provide the fare in the opening days.

Burgeon will be open Wednesdays through Sundays. Because the tasting facility is an exclusively outdoor setting, with canopies and umbrellas for shading, it complies with existing California pandemic regulations. With that in mind, Zirpolo stressed that the brewery will be taking additional precautions. 

“We want to make sure that everyone feels safe,” he said. “If they feel safe, they are more likely to come back, and I think that’s a reflection of our business.”  Additional measures include staff and patron temperature checks at the front door, hand sanitizers on all the tables, table spacing, and increased sanitizing and cleaning procedures.

Opening just before Thanksgiving, craft specials to tie in with the holiday will be created. “We have two special-release beers coming up the week after we open and right before Thanksgiving,” said Zirpolo. Also on the menu is an Escondido-inspired brew called Burgeon In Escondido, with cans that are wrapped with a map of the city of Escondido. “That will be released shortly after we open,” said Zirpolo.

Special-brewed Burgeon In Escondido to Celebrate Burgeon’s Grand Opening. 

Along with opening his business in the city, Zirpolo is also moving with his family to Escondido. “I’m very excited to personally be moving here,” he said. “I was born and raised in San Diego, and I’m excited to become part of the Escondido culture and community here.”

Zirpolo said he is looking forward to meeting the community and sharing his product with them. For beer drinkers who are not quite ready to venture into the breweries just yet, Burgeon’s craft beers can be ordered online for shipping and delivery as well. 

Burgeon Beer Company’s The Oasis is located at 649 Rock Springs Road. They can be reached by phone at 760-814-2548 or email taproom@burgeonbeer.com

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October 2020

Celebrating National Women in Small Business Month, This Escondido Native Dreams Big for Herself and Fellow Female Makers and Creators

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Celebrating National Women in Small Business Month, This Escondido Native Dreams Big for Herself and Fellow Female Makers and Creators

Escondido entrepreneur Mei Bautista embodies the motto, “Don’t quit your daydream.” She owns Daydream on Grand Avenue. The City of Escondido celebrates National Women in Small Business month and Bautista is a shining example of how female entrepreneurs are running business on their own terms and helping each other follow their dreams. 

Pre-COVID-19 - Mei Bautista (center) holds her shop dog Stacy with employees Tara Mueller and Selena Reycasa

“What if you could make your daydream your day job?” she said. “That’s the phrase that inspired me to name my store Daydream.” The quote is painted on the wall in her store to inspire customers too.

Mei Bautista’s inspirational quote painted on the wall in her shop

Her own inspirational daydream hit her in a most unusual way. Bautista, who grew up in Escondido, had just moved back from San Francisco last year and was working as the lead server at Mikko Sushi. One day, on a lunch break, she noticed the space next door had a vacancy. Bautista was the first person to inquire about it and, before she knew it, she was offered the space to rent. 

That was June 1. 

“And then it all happened so quickly,” said Bautista. By July 1, Bautista opened the doors to Daydream, a 50-square-foot boutique shop that sells unique gifts made by local Escondido artists and makers. “We have stickers, t-shirts, jewelry, wall art, plants, plant accessories, and pet supplies.” 

The timing for Bautista was also beneficial since the opening of her store came as businesses were allowed to open again, after the pandemic shutdown. Daydream has been a welcomed new shop in the neighborhood, as first-time customers are quickly becoming regulars. “I am constantly getting new things; that’s the fun thing about working with artists and makers, they are always creating new things,” she said. “It’s a completely new experience for people, whether they come in once a week or once a month.”

The “support local, shop local” vibe is also something that Bautista hopes her customers will embrace. “I really tried to make my place a one-stop gift shop where people can not only find unique items, but also locally made by local artists.”

In the spirit of Halloween, Daydream decked out its store in festive decor and merchandise

Included in her gift offerings is a subscription box. For $40, customers get a box of themed gift items, worth over $100. Members can subscribe in four, six, or 12-month options. October’s gift box is filled with fall and Halloween-themed items, such as a Halloween mask, a reusable bottle, an enamel werewolf pin, and much more.

“In November, we’re doing a theme of ‘Gratitude and Giving’,” she said. “I’m looking for a local non-profit to partner with and will donate a percentage of the box sales.” Bautista added that the artists in this subscription package will include locals who also help promote giving in their businesses. Most of the local artists and makers who are featured at Daydream are women. “I would say 99% of my shop carries women-owned businesses, mostly women of color, which is really exciting,” she said.

Promoting women is important to Bautista because she knows firsthand how difficult it can be to balance work and life. “I’m actually a stepmother. So I have to manage running a business and a family,” she said, adding that helping support women will both help them move forward in business, and also inspire young female makers.

“I have a few vendors who are still in high school. These young girls are really motivated and inspired by all the women entrepreneurs they are meeting. And it’s great because together we are inspiring a whole generation of young women entrepreneurs,” Bautista said.

Mentoring teenagers is Bautista’s way of giving back. As a child, Bautista was very poor and it was because of the services in Escondido, especially COMPACT, an Escondido organization that promotes workforce development for teenagers, that she was steered in a positive direction. “I got to participate in a lot of internships and volunteering in Escondido. I was inspired by the people. Now getting to be that person who helps other people here in Escondido is really rewarding,” she said.

There is also a sense of pride for those living and working in Escondido. Thanks to her boyfriend, Thomas Alaniz, who is a tattoo artist at Escondido Tattoo Studio, she sells that pride too. Alaniz’s Escondido stickers and t-shirts are sold in Daydream. “The stickers have been selling really well,” she said. “I just want to continue promoting the proud culture of our community.”

“It’s a beautiful town. I feel like it’s a close-knit community, especially with the business owners,” she added. 

Although it's a young shop, Daydream has already amassed a fanbase of regulars that frequent the store

Bautista is grateful that the business community made it so easy to open her store in Escondido. “The city was extremely helpful and they’ve been supportive,” she said.

One of her supporters has been Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “When Mei had questions about starting her business here in Escondido, she came to the City’s Economic Development team for guidance and support. We are always happy to help,” Tarrac said. “We are inspired to see a number of businesses like this that have opened during a pandemic - this is a true testament to the resilience of the Escondido community.”  Prospective and existing business owners are invited to connect with the City’s Economic Development resources on the City’s website here, sign up for the monthly business newsletter here, email us at Business@escondido.org, or call us at 760-839-4587.

Despite uncertainties, Bautista has stayed positive throughout the pandemic. “I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to start a business during a pandemic, because my goal is to show people that you can do whatever you want; you just have to figure it out.”

Daydream is located at 233 East Grand Avenue. Shop online at daydreamhere.com/ 

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This Woman-Owned Business Helps Capture Lasting Memories 

Making Photo Memories in the Midst of a Pandemic

October celebrates National Women in Small Business and the City of Escondido is honoring women who have shown great persistence and resilience throughout this year to keep their businesses moving forward and growing. Rina Connolly’s Mirrored Memories has weathered the pandemic and pivoted her business to give partygoers safer opportunities to capture memorable moments.

Despite living in a pandemic era, many are looking for unique and safe ways to celebrate, from small gatherings to virtual parties. 

Connolly’s portable, mirrored photo booths and modern selfie stations give guests a fun way to capture the moments of events such as birthdays, weddings, retirement parties, school or community events, and so much more.

Pre-COVID-19 - Rina Connolly (left) poses with her mother-in-law, Pam, and sister-in-law, Aileen

“Everybody’s gearing up to start having birthdays and parties again; instead of huge gatherings, they have small household gatherings,” said Connolly, who started her Escondido-based business in late 2019, only to be shut down in March. 

“When COVID-19 happened, everything shut down and we had just barely started our business,” she said.

However, recently Connolly has seen an uptick in business, even though it’s slightly different now. “The photo business used to be all about gatherings,” she said. Yet, since the pandemic, gatherings were only recently allowed and now include safety precautions such as face coverings, social distancing, and hand sanitizing stations. Connolly has adjusted her business to include these measures. “We're just trying to adjust to what’s going on around us and trying to make sure that everybody is comfortable.”

Connolly has had help from the City of Escondido too.

Thanks to an Escondido Small Business Grant, Connolly was able to upgrade the safety of her machines, purchase a touch-free selfie station that uses QR codes and cell phones, and add safety measures such as a hand sanitizer dispenser in order to keep her employees and party guests safe, “A big portion of the grant helped us update everything,” she said “Before COVID-19, we only had the mirrored booth and it was touch based.”

Pre-COVID-19 - Partygoers demonstrate how the mirrored photo booth creates memorable shots

The mirrored booth is also a camera! Guests pose in front of the mirror and an attendant takes their photo. The photo can then be edited with boomerangs, which are tiny videos, added emojis, frames, backgrounds, and more. With the help of an attendant, photos can be printed instantly. 

Adapting to COVID-19 - This selfie booth allows partygoers to take touch-free pictures

The selfie booth or modern booth is a stand-alone camera that is usually set in front of a background. Guests pose in front of the camera and simply wave their arms to activate the camera. QR codes allow for touchless editing and sharing. Unlike the mirror booth, the selfie booth doesn’t need an attendant. However, if party hosts want instant prints, an attendant is required. 

“We try to make the modern booth more affordable, especially now,” Connolly said. “Many want to throw a small gathering now but they don’t want to have the added expense. The digital selfie booth is more affordable for the client.” 

For those who prefer to keep their get-togethers completely virtual, Connolly also has a virtual photo booth option. Guests can upload their own pictures to a designated phone number and their photos will be edited with backgrounds the party host has chosen. They will then be texted back to both the photographer and the host. This option goes well with Zoom parties or drive-by birthdays.

Despite the challenges of the past few months, Connolly, who worked as a surgical nurse for 20 years,  is happy she left a career to follow her dream of opening her own business in Escondido.  This new venture is far from her old job, where she met with patients at the height of their anxiety just before surgeries. Now, she meets people celebrating life events who are full of joy. 

“The crazy thing about it is I love making people smile. I think it’s the reason I like the photo booths; it’s the interaction with them that I enjoy,” she said. 

As a resident of Escondido, Connolly has headquartered her business here too. This central locale allows her to bring her photo booths to any location throughout the county and surrounding counties, while also providing services to local charity events and high school functions. 

Slowly but persistently, Connolly is determined to make Mirrored Memories a success. “I really want to thank the City of Escondido,” she said. “The grant they provided really helped me out and allowed me to continue my work in the community.”

Connolly is one of hundreds of local small business owners that have received support from both the City and the community during the pandemic. “It is our goal to help make sure small businesses recover from the shut down, stay, and grow in our city,” said Amber Tarrac, Deputy Director of Economic Development. 

To book a photo booth for a party or occasion, go to mirroredmemories.com or call (858) 251-9418.

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September 2020

Classical Academy is Leading the Way in Distance Learning

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Classical Academy is Leading the Way in Distance Learning

Before the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and businesses to shut down and switch gears, the Classical Academy High School, Personalized Learning Campus (Classical Academy) in Escondido, was already teaching students how to learn in a rapidly shifting environment. The Classical Academies are a group of seven Certified California Public Charter Schools throughout North County with over 4,500 students in grades K-12. Classical Academies are classified as independent study charter schools. Schools are critical to economic and workforce development as they support the local workforce to return to work and return to adult upskilling programs as well as teach the next generation of our workforce and future business owners practical skills.

Students and parents in a workshop at a UCSD business course orientation

These schools give students a personalized program that allows them to learn independently, at home and on campus. Before the shutdown and under normal circumstances, full-day, on-campus learning is open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with most students on campus these days. On-campus classes are called workshops and are run by certified teachers in their subjects. Mondays and Fridays are home learning days with office hours available to students on Fridays. This hybrid learning environment provides live classes to students, online learning, tutoring support, academics, and all the social clubs, sports, and extracurriculars that are provided in traditional K-12 schools. This school structure also gives older students who have internships or jobs flexibility to work and stay in school.

Principal Dr. Stacey Perez with her sons Pedro and Mario, who are former Classical Academy students

Dr. Stacey Perez, Principal at Classical Academy, says this philosophy of learning is ideal for students who need or are seeking an individualized learning environment. “We have a lot of musicians, traveling kids, missionaries, and students who have other needs for education than a traditional classroom.”  Perez added that when schools were forced to shut down, Classical Academy’s transition was nearly seamless. “When we went into our shut down on March 13, our students were prepared because they already knew how to do distance learning.” 

In fact, since the shutdown, many new families have inquired about the school and Classical Academy now has an enrollment waitlist, she said. For Perez, communication is one of the central reasons Classical Academy was able to pivot during the beginning stages of the pandemic and as the school reopened virtually. “I feel like we worked a lot harder than before the shutdown,” she said.

The school provided constant communication through updates, videos, and social media to keep students and parents informed and ready as school was preparing to re-open. Classes began again, completely online, on August 20. Before opening, Perez and her staff met with each student one-on-one virtually to make sure each one was prepared for school and to answer any questions they had about the adjustment to a 100% virtual learning environment. 

She also met with the parents.“We have a really large parent partnership,” said Perez. “One of our support staff runs a parent boot camp to bring parents on board with their students.”  These meetings give parents an understanding of expectations, school safety measures, and the quality education Classical Academy is providing their children. 

Classical Academy High School, Personal Learning Campus faculty and staff

The Classical Academies began in 1999 in Escondido with a small group of parents who were looking for an alternative form of learning for their kids. Their participation in Escondido community events and service is at the heart of the school’s mission. 

“We have a high student community service requirement,” said Perez. “Every student must complete 37.5 hours per year.”  By graduation, every student will have committed 150 community service hours.  “We feel the community gives to us and we want to give back to the community,” Perez added.

Schoolwide community events have included clean up days at Grape Day Park and at the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum.  These partnerships have also evolved into internships and jobs for many of the students while in school and after they have graduated.  “Students had internships at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido and the Children’s Museum,” said Perez. 

This work experience gives the students school credit and helps them discover interests in jobs throughout the community such as marketing, catering, and coding, that could evolve into careers. 

Meanwhile, Classical Academy’s Special Education Department is in a collaborative program with the Transition Partnership Program (TPP) under the Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), to give students 16 and older assistance finding work. The program focuses on five specific areas: job exploration counseling, work readiness training, work-based learning experiences, self-advocacy training, and post secondary counseling. Many juniors and seniors from Classical Academy have been placed in jobs throughout North County. 

“Schools such as Classical Academy are important to the growth and success of the City,” said Amber Tarrac, Deputy Director of Economic Development. “As stakeholders in the community, their partnerships with workforce readiness programs such as TPP help our community grow and develop a diverse workforce.”

Whether it's helping students find jobs or guiding them on their path to higher learning, Dr. Perez sees their success come from the direction and support they are given. “If you give students the tools to be successful, every student will be successful,” she said. “We are glad to have The Classical Academies in Escondido,” said Tarrac. “They provide an alternative education to families and their workforce commitment helps bring bright and thoughtful leaders to our community.”

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Balkan Favorite Adds Flavor to Escondido

Escondido Small Business Grant Helps Popular Southeast European-Inspired Eatery Re-Open

Owner Bosko Kresovich in front of the Old World Meat Company

For the past 11 years,  Bosko and Laura Kresovich have been serving a well-loved Balkin favorite to locals and visitors alike. The couple, who are the owners of Old World Meat Company in Escondido, have whipped up much success over the years, from catering events to opening a brick and mortar restaurant for their in-demand Cevap sausages and meats.

Laura learned how to cook in her mother’s and grandmother’s kitchen, but her award-winning Cevap sausages and meats come from a recipe she came up with on her own. “I grew up cooking,” said Laura, who grew up in Los Angeles. “One day I just threw spices together to see what I would come up with and that was it.” 

Cevap or Cevapi are case-less pork and beef sausages or meat patties similar to kebab meat and are popular in Southeastern European countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria and Greece. Laura would make her cevap for family gatherings, church celebrations, and for friends. In 2008, a friend suggested that she enter her recipe in the Cevap Challenge. She did and she took home the People’s Choice award. 

“So from that point on, people started calling us to make our sausages,” she said, adding that the sausages have also been made into hot dogs and hamburgers. Soon, Laura and her husband Bosko were catering at churches and festivals from San Diego to Los Angeles.  This gained them a following for their unique flavors that remind many of the Cevap from the old country. 

“(Actor) Christian Bale drops in every Easter to eat our food,” said Laura.

While the restaurant and shop are popular, “90% of Old World Meat Company’s business is catering,” Bosko said. Much of their catering business has been in the surrounding area, including festivals and lunch services at Orange Glen High School and San Pasqual High School. When they started, they cooked their recipes in a commercial kitchen, only serving small orders to walk-in customers. 

It’s a family affair! From left, Nikola, Sofija, Laura, Maja, and Bosko

And their business is an all-family venture, as Basko and Laura have enlisted all three of their children to help. Their oldest daughter, Sofija, runs the social media and marketing while their son, Nikola, and youngest daughter, Maja, help out in the restaurant.  

In December 2019, they opened their brick-and-mortar restaurant on East Valley Parkway with a menu that included not only the cevap sausages, hot dogs, and hamburgers, but also delicious salads, sandwiches, and made-to-order deli items.

Savory sausage sandwich with butter/feta/cream cheese spread

Things were going great until COVID-19 put a halt on all in-service dining. Laura explained, “We were able to work because we’re an essential business, but the problem became lack of product.” Meat prices soared, and when COVID-19 spread in so many beef and pork factories, the supply chain became limited. 

“They limited us to 20 pounds of meat. I normally buy 500-600 pounds of meat,” she said, adding that lack of meat and limited dining options forced the couple to go back to pop-up catering.  Now that meat prices have finally come down again, Old World Meat Company has re-opened, but only on weekends for now.

In fact, the restaurant recently received an Escondido Small Business Grant to help them reopen and expand their kitchen to serve food to eat-in customers.  “Small business owners like Bosko and Laura are the heart of Escondido,” said Amber Tarrac, Deputy Director of Economic Development. “Old World Meat Company was given a grant because the city understands supporting businesses like this is what keeps our economy strong. As they grow and expand, more members of our community will be able to dine in and enjoy another great eatery in their own backyard.”

The husband-and-wife duo plans to use the grant money to improve the restaurant’s safety protocol, which will include partitions, outdoor dining equipment, and other social distancing items. They will also invest in improvements to their kitchen, including a new griddle system. 

Bosko and Laura feel the city and the community are big supporters of their business. “They've been there for us from day one,” said Bosko, who grew up in Escondido. “It’s been a positive place. It’s a good town and you feel good here.” He also said he wanted to open a business in Escondido because he has always felt the potential of the town and the support of its leaders, “they are all very approachable,” he said.

The Kresovich’s are also grateful for all the support they have from the community throughout the pandemic. “Thank you to everybody for the opportunity to let us serve you,” Laura said. The Kresovich’s hope to be up and running on the restaurant side in early 2021, but for now, Old World Meat Company is open on the weekends for orders and take out. 

As Bosko put it, “When we’re open, come down so we can feed the world!”

Old World Meat Company is open Saturday from 12-to-6 p.m. and Sunday from 12-to-5 p.m., and is located at 2201 East Valley Parkway, Ste. E. The restaurant can be reached at 760-532-8038.

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August 2020

Fiery Passion Leads Local Glassblower to Create ‘Covid’ Collectors Club


Stone & Glass owners James Stone and Carol Rogers with their dog, Ester

Glass artist and entrepreneur, James Stone, has overcome great challenges throughout his career. When he decided to open his first gallery in 2001, the devastating September 11 tragedy occurred days before he opened his doors. He made it through the economic downturn in the early 2000s, and survived an eight-month shut down in 2017, when his neighboring business burned down and forced him to temporarily close.

“That fire was a dress rehearsal,” said Stone, who now owns Stone & Glass, a glass blowing studio and gallery in Escondido. When the unexpected shutdown due to COVID-19 happened in March, Stone and his wife and business partner Carol Rogers quickly had to devise a plan to shift their business in order to find a way to stay afloat.   

“We had a $4,000-a-month energy cost between electricity and propane,” said Stone. “We had to shut that furnace off, and without it, we couldn’t do any work. And I knew if it went on for several months, we wouldn’t have the money to turn it back on.” 

Glass blowing classes, which had been a consistent source of income since Stone was first approached by a representative at Groupon years ago, had to be canceled due to the shutdown.  

At first, Stone said he was reluctant to teach, but has since found it to be very rewarding. “As I started to teach and communicate, I developed a dialogue and I found that I love to teach,” he said. “I enjoy taking someone who has never been exposed to 2,400 degrees and standing them up in front of the furnace and watching them as they very quickly evolve to love the flame.”

Even with the reopening in May, only a few private lessons have been allowed to start again. “Glassblowing for the most part is a team sport,” said Stone. “They call the area where you work in the glass blowing industry the ‘dance floor’ because when you are making glass, it’s a song, it’s music, and you are dancing with your partner. It’s amazing to watch and it’s more amazing to be on the dance floor and be part of it. That’s the experience I try to give my students.”

This intimate work environment has been put on pause. With the loss of revenue, Stone and Rogers had to figure out a new way to create an income. Knowing glassware has always been a consistent sale for their business, Stone and Rogers worked together to develop a plan to create the Stone & Glass Collectors Club

July’s Collectors Club wine glasses are a vibrant "Covid Blue”

Developed in response to COVID-19, this limited-edition, hand-blown drinking glass collection is being offered on a membership basis. Every month, a set of hand-blown, stemless wine glasses or rock glasses will be designed and sent to members. 

Members can choose between a four, six or 12-month subscription, and the glasses are shipped the fourth week of the month. 

July’s limited-edition “Covid Blue” design was an instant hit. “We initially hoped for 20 subscriptions,” Rogers said, explaining that 20 subscriptions would help Stone & Glass reach a net zero profit and keep the business open through the pandemic. She and Stone were pleasantly surprised when, at the launch of the Collectors Club, they more than doubled their expected subscriptions.

The Club is now selling its August glasses, called “Back to the Flame.” Its lower base of cobalt blue waves swim into a warm, golden yellow top with bursts of rich red, copper, and titanium flames floating above the blue waves. 

August’s “Back to the Flame” Collectors Club wine glasses contain a striking mixture of primary colors

All pieces in the Collectors Club have two distinct marks. First, they are branded with Stone’s unique coined-sized signature stamp he brands on all of his pieces. In addition, all the glasses in the Collectors Club are signed and dated by Stone with a special diamond tool he uses to etch into the bottom of the glass. 

With the success of the Collectors Club, Stone and Rogers are planning to create additional pieces to complement the series and memorialize the pandemic through art. 

“The Covid Blue won’t go away,” Stone said. “In future months, we may make vases or plates in the Covid Blue and make a very limited number available to patrons and the public.”

Stone and Rogers said they are grateful to the patrons and customers who have helped them pivot their business during this difficult time. They are hopeful that this will help them survive and continue to make quality glass art in the future. “Glass is a form of energy and everything in our existence is just a slightly different manifestation of the energy and because of that, because glass is such an intense energy, it’s absolutely magical,” Stone said. “I want to share the magic of glass with as many people as I can for as long as I can.”

Stone & Glass is located at 629 W. Grand Avenue in Escondido. The gallery is open Wednesday-Saturday from 11 a.m - 6 p.m. For more information call 760-294-7447.

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City of Escondido Grants Give Relief to Cash-Strapped Small Businesses 

The City of Escondido has created the Small Business Grant Program to further support local Escondido businesses impacted by the ongoing pandemic. The city partnered with the San Diego North Economic Development Council to administer the grant program to distribute $1 million from the city’s awarded portion of the federal CARES Act. Grants will be available to businesses that have annual revenues of less than $1 million and have been affected by COVID-19-related hardships. Small businesses can receive up to $15,000 to help make commercial rent payments, maintain payroll, and/or buy protective equipment such as gloves or wipes. Grant funding can also be used to make physical improvements to the business space such as adding plexiglass at registers or at tables and purchasing tables, chairs, canopies, umbrellas and other items to assist with outdoor operations in order to comply with current health and safety requirements. 

The grant program began July 17, 2020; the City has received almost 200 applications and 35 businesses have been awarded grant funding in the amount of $378,275.

“The application process is open until August 28 and businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as possible” said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development. “The City is committed to helping our local small businesses during these difficult times and we hope the amount awarded will help in some respect. The City has also partnered with Univision to help market the program to our Hispanic/Latino business owners.”

Awards have been granted to businesses in the following categories: food manufacturing, restaurants, retail, art galleries, barbershops, and hair and nail salons. Two businesses that have received funding are J&M’s Family Restaurant on Valley Parkway and Deborah's Next to New Consignment on East Valley Parkway. 

A Community Staple

The staff at J&M’s Family Restaurant are keeping customers and each other safe by wearing masks

Since 1987, Joe Goncalves has owned and operated his family restaurant in Escondido. Originally called Spire’s, Goncalves renamed it J&M’s Family Restaurant in 2012 and has welcomed locals, regulars, and guests to enjoy meals ever since.

“We offer everything from eggs benedict to chicken fried steak, to corned beef hash. You name it, we got it,” said Goncalves. 

When the pandemic forced Goncalves to shut his doors, he quickly got to work and created a space that would not only welcome guests back but would also ensure their safety. Plexiglass partitions were installed between the booths and seating was rearranged to allow six-feet table separation. Even that couldn’t bring business back to normal.

The restaurant set up social distance spacing partitions between booths

“When we came back after the shutdown, we were up to about three quarters of the sales,” Goncalves said. 

But the second shutdown has hurt his business even more. 

“When they said we could no longer serve inside, that cut our business in half,” he said. To-go orders and curbside deliveries are helping but even they aren’t making up for the loss in revenues. 

“The problem is, a lot of my customers are older,” said Goncalves. “They aren’t coming out right now understandably and they don’t do many pick-up orders. That’s my biggest issue.”

To help cushion his costs, Goncalves applied for the federal PPP loans and found the process frustrating. “I applied for the PPP loan, which was a disaster,” said Goncalves. Although he did receive some funding, he found the restrictions actually cost him out-of-pocket expenses.

When he heard about the Escondido Small Business Grant, he applied and received $15,000. 

“This was the easiest one we applied for,” said Goncalves who also said the approval process was fast. “I don’t even know if it took a week. It was really quick.”

He will use the money for payroll expenses and COVID-19-related cleaning efforts. “My employees come first,” Goncalves said, and mentioned how great his staff has been at adjusting to the changes. “They do everything to follow the new rules.”

Outdoor seating provides guests with a safe dining option

For now, Goncalves is thankful he is getting the community support he needs. “I am thankful that a lot of my clientele still support us. Even though they are elderly, they still come out to support us and call in orders.” He cautiously added, “I would love more business. I heard one in four restaurants are closing down right now. I just hope I’m not one of them.”  In addition, J&M’s Family Restaurant jumped at the opportunity to participate in Escondido Eats, a City and Chamber of Commerce partnership to help spread the word to the community about local restaurant, winery, and brewery deals city-wide.

J&M’s Family Restaurant is located at 1215 E. Valley Parkway. Orders can be placed by calling 760-745-3710 or online here.

An Essential Service to Escondido

“We are a well-needed business here, especially in our little part of Escondido. We get a lot of foot traffic from people who need everyday items,” said Jeff Kitfield, manager of Deborah’s Next to New Consignment, which has been a general household consignment store in Escondido for 45 years. “We sell everything from clothing to lamps, and dishware and everything in between.” 

Owner Tami Marmon (left) and Manager Jeff Kitfield

Owner Tami Marmon shut down the 7,500-square-foot store in March, but was able to reopen on July 1. “We have seen an increase since we opened, but closing for three months really put a damper on our business. We are doing everything we can to let people know we are open and safe again, so please come in,” she said.

She also noted there has been an uptick in people coming in to sell their stuff. 

“I think they had all that time off to clean their houses.” Kitfield added, “Right now we are doing appointments. We do pickups and delivery for people who want to unload an entire house to us.”

Even with the added customers dropping items for consignment, the shutdown was tough on business. 

“It was a rough three months to have no income and no inventory coming in or going out. It was tough on my employees,” said Marmon.

Marmon, who staffs five employees, said she tried to shift hours and renovated the store while it was closed, yet some employees had to file for unemployment. Luckily, when doors reopened she was able to hire everyone back. 

Financially, she needed assistance too. She applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan through the Small Business Administration,  but still needed more assistance. “It’s a loan and now I have a debt. I didn’t want any other debt.”

Deborah’s Next to New Consignment sells unique furniture and decor, among other things

That’s when she heard about the Escondido Small Business Grant. She received $12,000, which will be used for rent, payroll, and for cleaning supplies. “I am going to send a $4,000 check to my landlords Bruce and Terry Mullis,” she said. “They have been so wonderful to us; they didn’t charge us rent while we were closed. They were also helpful with the renovation. They are very kind, good people.”

Marmon and Kitfield are also happy with the response from the City throughout the pandemic. Kitfield said, “They’ve been 100% amazing. They have been willing and able to give us more advertising in the front of our store with banners and flags, which normally wouldn’t have been allowed.”

Kitfield also said the grant the City provided will help in multiple ways. “I feel like the grant will allow us to stay in the community, stay open and keep our employees, who live in the community, and not have to go outside it to find a job.” 

Deborah’s Next to New Consignment is located at 1624 E, Valley Parkway. To set up a consignment appointment call 760-743-8980.

For more information on the Escondido Small Business Grant, here is the link to view the press release.

Applications in English can be found at: https://www.sdnedc.org/escondidobusinessgrants/

Applications in Spanish can be found at: https://www.sdnedc.org/escondidosubvencionesdenegocio/

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July 2020

Using Spirits to Spark Conversation and Community in Escondido

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Using Spirits to Spark Conversation and Community in Escondido

Cassandra Schaeg, owner and operator of SIP Wine & Beer on Orange Street is on a mission to inspire her fellow Escondido neighbors to live, work, and play in the local community. “Our focus is on community, culture, and conversation,” said Schaeg, an Escondido resident.

Owner of SIP Wine & Beer Cassandra Schaeg

“The emphasis on supporting our local community is the overall reason why I decided to open SIP,” Schaeg added. “I decided to lay roots here. And in living here, I realized I wasn’t spending my money here. I wasn’t eating here, and I wasn’t involved in the community.” 

Schaeg wanted to change that. She understands how important local spending is to a city and began finding ways to live and spend in Escondido. “When people spend money here, the sales tax goes towards helping the city thrive and building the community. People are paying attention to the importance of local spending and I think that needs to continue because people really need to understand what it means to invest in your community.” 

Schaeg changed her habits and then went one step further by investing in Escondido. “After doing research and realizing there’s an emerging wine presence and realizing there were no wine bars in town, I decided to take a risk and open a wine bar here.”

“Wine is a white-male-dominated industry,” Schaeg added. “However, many of its consumers are women, so for me it is important to highlight that.” 

Formed in 2015 and open since June 2016, SIP has become a welcomed community space. According to Schaeg, it has evolved into a space for women and minorities and local beer and winemakers to showcase their products.

“I am definitely blessed and fortunate to have opened SIP in Escondido. This is a charming city,” she  said. “I am one of very few Black business owners in this city and in all, I’ve been welcomed.”

Schaeg admits she is also one of the few women-owned minorities in the wine and beer industry and she sees this as an opportunity to transform the industry. “It’s really important for me to use the platform to let people know that there are women and minority wine and beer makers out there who are changing the narrative on what the industry should look like,” she said.. “The wine and beer making industry is very small. We all know each other, and so before things started to shift (due to COVID-19), we were on a mission to support each other.” 

As a wine bar and tasting room, Schaeg makes it a point to highlight many of the local beer and winemakers in Escondido and throughout North County. Local beer and winemakers that have been featured at SIP include  Altipiano, owned by San Diego native Denise Clark; BK Sellers, Keys Creek Winery; and Latitude 33 Brewing. Others throughout California have included the McBride Sisters winery owners Robin and Andrea, who own the largest Black female-owned winery in the United States; Kita Wines, owned by Native American Tara Gomez; and Brown Napa Valley, also Black family-owned winery.

“The wine and beer industry in North County knows who I am. The goal is for people to spend money in this city,” said Schaeg. 

Schaeg pours wine in preparation for WineVersations

In addition to SIP, Schaeg produces a YouTube channel show called WineVersations. “It’s the platform to have disruptive conversations with wine or beer being the unifier,” Schaeg said. “When you come into SIP, people here are talking about a variety of topics, such as politics, social justice, and any array of things. Here you can have that conversation, and that’s where WineVersations came in.” 

Guests have included Mayor Paul McNamara and Deputy Mayor Consuelo Martinez, who have both spoken about Escondido’s changing community and the benefits of its changes; Dr. Steven Jones, owner of Jones Inclusive; and the McBride sisters.

The pandemic has shut down the in-person conversations for now, but luckily Schaeg is able to keep her doors open for to-go orders. She is grateful for this, not only because it is saving her business, but also because being open allows her to stay connected to the community.

“Even though we are closed, being able to still connect with people who are picking up to-go orders definitely makes my heart smile,” said Schaeg. “We’ve all been confined and had very little contact, but the 10-to-15 minutes I get to spend with someone who is coming in here because they need to stock up on their wine is worth it. I’m so appreciative towards the people who continue to support us.”

Schaeg is confident once businesses begin to fully re-open, she will continue to promote all the new and inspiring people who are moving the wine and beer industry forward. “Once we are able to open safely, we will highlight people in the wine and beer industry who are definitely trailblazers.”

SIP Wine & Beer is located at 129-131 S. Orange Street in Escondido. Customers can call (442) 248-8466 to order wine and beer for pick up. 

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‘New Collar’ Job Training Program in Escondido Pays Students to Learn

As the knowledge economy continues to grow, apprenticeship programs like the one at Escondido-based San Diego Code School will become more important to regions around the globe, sparking job growth and boosting quality of life in communities. The San Diego Code School’s apprenticeship program was recently approved by the Department of Apprenticeship Standards and received Employment Training Panel funding to support workforce development at its two locations in downtown Escondido and Southeast San Diego - both achievements of which should be celebrated!

San Diego Code School operates out of The Synergy Centre co-working space

The San Diego Code School, which opened in September 2018, has shifted gears a bit and is now tuition free and its students get paid to code. The apprenticeship program, which started in March 2020, follows many traditional trade professions giving students a chance to learn by working directly in the field. Students accepted into the program are placed in a yearlong paid technology position where they learn the process by doing it. The San Diego Code School works with partner companies throughout the county - including ServiceNow, NewRocket, BD, UCSD/PoNG, Kizen, and BrainLeap - who pay apprentices to learn software development, who in turn, get real world experiences in the industry. 

Most of the students who apply for these apprenticeships are between 25-to-35 years old, and are looking to transition into technology.

“I’m trying to help people that are in the earlier parts of their professional careers, figure out what they can do to get back into a job,” said Michael Roberts, Founder of San Diego Code School.  

As far as recruiting goes, Roberts’ approach is to reach out to community organizations for candidates. Here he is finding young people who may not be on the traditional college career path yet are still looking for good jobs. “By reaching out into the community, we get this much more diverse candidate pool and that ultimately results in more candidates working their way through and qualifying for this kind of role,” he said.

This recruiting technique has proven successful as recently 99 potential students applied for four open spaces.

Roberts - a software engineer who has worked in the technology space for three decades -  feels the apprenticeship model works well for the technology sector. “It’s a super simple concept when you boil it down to the way we get funded.” 

He went on to explain that instead of having companies ship their workload offshore, they instead send it to San Diego Code School and there, local students will work on the projects. “From the students' perspective, it’s even simpler. You’re just getting paid to learn.”

Michael Roberts (back row, far right) with San Diego Code School students.on Demo Day

There has been such a demand for its unique program that the San Diego Code School expanded from its home base in downtown Escondido to another location in southeast San Diego. “These are both untapped areas in San Diego,” said Roberts, adding that these areas are rich in minority communities who tend to be underrepresented in technology. “We want to create that opportunity where otherwise it may not be.” 

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down its physical locations, the school is operating fully remotely. 

By participating in this program, students become proficient in QA (Quality Assurance), software engineering and software developer roles. These skills will give them the training and experience to find programming and junior-level software engineering roles. 

Roberts calls this the “new collar” job. “I think the future of work is going to look like this,” he said. “A lot of jobs are going to be in some sort of technology and I feel like these are fundamental skills. Folks should have the basic mechanics of how to do some light coding. They really need to be able to think programmatically to break problems down and deconstruct, and communicate technology, all those things that we can teach someone to do fairly well in a year’s time.”

San Diego Code School equips students of all backgrounds with the tools
and knowledge to start successful tech careers

Apprentices from San Diego Code School have been placed in several small-to-midsize technology companies throughout San Diego, and some are working with major companies such as Walmart Labs and Sony

San Diego Code School has a nonprofit branch that helps support the mission to bring minority and underrepresented students to technology. Advancing San Diego, an initiative through San Diego EDC, has backed the school with a grant that has offered a few students internship hours through designated work they provide. “We think it’s an awesome opportunity for them to get some real-world experience,” said Roberts. 

Roberts is continually seeking grants and partnership opportunities like Advancing San Diego to continue to build the school and give more students opportunities to learn and work in the regional  tech industry. 

San Diego Code School is also part of Innovate 78, and Roberts feels the North County is a thriving community. “Being around so many dynamic leaders in the area and seeing all the advanced manufacturing and all the great things happening up close and personal, I think has been really eye-opening for me,” he said.

Roberts added the city leaders of Escondido have welcomed his business and have offered assistance in many ways. “We’ve even had the mayor over. I spent a lot of time in this area and still did not expect the kind of warm reception that we’ve had in the City of Escondido.” 

Roberts, who feels Escondido is the perfect fit for his school, added, “Anybody that wants to get involved can check out our website. We’re always looking for you; companies or sponsors. If folks want to further this cause and help create this breadth of underrepresented talent, we’re always looking for folks that are willing to help us out.”

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June 2020

Escondido Welcomes The Super Dentists

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Escondido Welcomes The Super Dentists

Perhaps you have seen the commercial on tv with the catchy chorus, “We love the Super Dentists!” The Super Dentists, with five practices throughout San Diego County, recently opened their newest and largest practice in Escondido after having to suspend operations during the pandemic.

Now with stay-at-home restrictions lifting, The Super Dentists is reopening with safety as their first priority. “Patient safety is our #1 priority!” said co-founder Dr. Kami Hoss, whose superhero alias is Dr. HaveOneSuperSmile. “The Super Dentists have put procedures in place for reopening to ensure the health and safety of our patients, crew members, and doctors.”

A temperature checkpoint is one of several precautions The Super Dentists is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19

This two-level facility provides comprehensive dental procedures from pediatric dentistry to orthodontics and everything in between. Before the pandemic, its warm and interactive atmosphere, including a one-of-a-kind play slide between the floor levels, which helps children of all ages feel comfortable and secure while undergoing dental procedures, had been one of the reasons many flocked to the facility. As they open, these interactive spaces will be limited for the time being. 

“We are not your typical dentist,” said Hoss. “We put our kids in the center of our business model.”

The Super Dentists has worked relentlessly during office closures to lead in the areas of safety and delivery of patient care during the pandemic. Now, patients and staff will be thoroughly screened, required to wear face coverings, and the number of patients in the facility will be limited. Patients will be asked to wait in their cars until their child’s chair is ready and virtual check-ins will take place. Children are being asked to brush their teeth at home prior to their appointment.

Dr. Kami Hoss is one of the co-founders behind The Super Dentists, which has opened its newest practice in Escondido

Hoss, who is a business partner with his wife, pediatric dentist Nazli Keri, DDS aka The Tooth Keri, was inspired to create his business model when he was at a friend’s party. “Statistically, 80% of all healthcare decisions are made by women. They are very powerful when it comes to healthcare,” he said. So he figured marketing to moms would bring the kids to his practice. However, when he noticed a child at the party who was in constant need of attention, Hoss said this was his “aha moment.”

“That’s when I realized, moms are not my customer, kids are my customer. If we do everything in our practice to take great care of kids, everything else will come into place.”

What came into place is a dental practice that gives patients a top-grade, comforting experience while educating them on the importance of good dental health. 

“Patients can still expect an out-of-this-world experience at The Super Dentists. Escondido is one of our largest offices and houses all our specialties: pediatric dentistry, orthodontics, and teen and parent dentistry, which is one of our fastest-growing areas. We have separate Super Lounges for kids, featuring brand new games, a very cool interactive photo booth and our Starbucks café, where patients can help themselves to coffee, tea or hot chocolate. We have tons of magazines and free Wi-Fi. We like to keep our patients up to date with what we’re doing so our screens run our movies (we have 4!), news clips, and fun facts about our practice,” Hoss said. 

Right now, the magazines, children’s toys and other sharable items will be shelved because they cannot be easily disinfected. Hoss added, “However, The Super Dentists has developed an out-of-this-world ‘Virtual Super Lounge’ and has virtualized many amenities families expect from The Super Dentists.” 

Themes help establish a fun atmosphere and make a trip to the dentist more enjoyable. 

“The Super Lounge has a theme park design with the goal of creating positive associations for kids so they’re not afraid to go to the dentist,” said Hoss.

As restrictions are lifted, the Escondido office hopes to reincorporate its unique, tailored space on the lower level for teens and parents. Hoss explained, “For teens and parents, we created a separate area called the VIT/VIP (the Very Important Teen/Very Important Parent) lounge and a completely different aesthetic. Amenities include flavored gloves, free childcare, aromatherapy, massage chairs, and customized latte art, all intended to surprise, delight, and relax our patients.” 

While the fun atmosphere will continue, sanitizing and cleaning has been a top priority. “As a healthcare facility, The Super Dentists already had stringent cleaning and infection control protocols in place but added more,” said Hoss.

The Super Dentists has upgraded its HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) with new, advanced filters and have added professional air cleaners and UV light technology as an additional safeguard.

Some dental procedures have been modified to reduce or eliminate aerosols. The Super Dentists is pleased to announce that they are one of the first dental offices to utilize an advanced droplets and aerosol terminator (ADS) to provide an additional level of safety for patients, crew members, and doctors.

Beyond the office visit, Hoss provides his patients with at-home tools to continue positive oral health. “We have our own toothbrush and dental products,” explained Hoss, who is also a part-time musician. “Our toothbrushes have a custom two-minute song, which I wrote.” In addition, augmented reality 3D characters appear in a hologram in the child’s bathroom to help teach them how to brush and floss properly. A new virtual consultation tool for tele-dentistry will also soon be available for certain visits. 

With a 250-person staff and 20 doctors, The Super Dentists is a full-service oral care provider. “We use all the latest technologies,” said Hoss. This includes many of their own proprietary technologies including Accelodontics, an accelerated orthodontics procedure that shortens the time patients wear braces. Other features include zero to net zero radiation x-rays, computerized anesthesia for maximum comfort, virtual reality treatments, and even massages.

Hoss is so adamant about teaching his patients and others about the importance of oral care, he has used his creative talents to develop learning videos with The Super Dentist superheroes and a YouTube channel that helps inform people. 

His book, “If This Mouth Could Talk,” which connects oral health to overall health, will be published later this year. 

Dr. Kami Hoss's new book will be published later this year


For a hands-on education, The Super Dentists has partnered with the San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum in Escondido to create an exhibit called “Grinland.” 

“That’s been such a fun partnership,” said Hoss. “We started working with the museum last spring, collaborating on exhibit elements to be a premier sponsor of Grinland.” The exhibit will include a mini Super Dentist exhibit complete with a dental chair, lab coats, tools, and an exaggerated fun-sized toothbrush. Children can pretend to be dentists and work on each other while learning about oral hygiene. 

“It’s been a blast to watch it come to fruition - kids climbing all over the dental chair, wearing our dental coats and sitting at our replica Welcome Tower. The exhibit shows kids they don’t have to be afraid of the dentist and that it can even be a lot of fun.” 

The Super Dentists superheroes also participate in the event. “We hosted story times where our Tooth Keri character read our storybook, ‘A Brush with The Super Dentists,’ and we donated our Super Toothbrushes and their sales to the museum,” Hoss said.

The exhibit ran at the museum until the pandemic hit. 

Hoss and The Super Dentists have been building relationships with the City of Escondido for quite a while, “starting with the Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Association, Escondido Visitors Center and we are planning to sponsor events related to kids and education at Escondido’s signature events like the Grand Avenue Festival, the Kids Obstacle Challenge and others,” said Hoss. 

The Super Dentists also has an outreach program for teachers and schools that will continue as schools begin to reopen again. “We encourage Escondido teachers to consider a visit from our Tooth Keri character. She visits hundreds of schools each year and gives fun, interactive presentations about the importance of good oral hygiene to elementary and middle school students,” said Hoss.

As The Super Dentists’ offices reopen in Escondido, they are scheduling appointments  to see patients daily per the new restrictions. One of those restrictions is the postponement of their most popular event, Free Dental Day, a dental visit and free dental work targeted to children 12 and under who don’t have regular access to dental care or dental insurance. This day has been postponed until further notice.

Hoss had wanted to open an office in Escondido for a long time. He said, “We had our eye on Escondido for a few years. It’s really a central place.” Their office, located in Signature Pavilion, “is close to the freeways, really central, and accessible from many parts, especially northeast San Diego.”

“With our five locations we covered most of the county but inland North County was one of the few areas we didn’t cover. It’s definitely one of our biggest practices, and it’s our first practice with two full floors, two levels of dentistry.” 

Now in Escondido, Hoss hopes to continue to spread his positive message about oral healthcare and to treat patients with the latest technologies, advanced treatments, and caring approach. As Hoss put it, “We want patients to know their oral health matters more now than ever!”

“After two months in lockdown, we know many of our patients are ready to catch up on their entire family’s personal grooming and healthcare. While delaying a haircut may not be pretty, it’s not likely to cause harm, but having no choice but to delay preventative dental care for months can start causing problems.”

During the pandemic, The Super Dentists remained open to treat emergencies. While they weren’t as frequent in mid-March, now ten weeks later, the cumulative effects of not being able to see the dentist is catching up with many of our patients.

Oral health is not only important in maintaining healthy teeth and gums, it’s also linked to overall health in profound ways. Our mouth is the gateway to the body and nearly everything that enters the body enters through the mouth – COVID-19 is no exception.

The Super Dentists staff is taking extra precautions to keep patients safe

Hoss has been a sought-after speaker during the pandemic. He encourages everyone to continue to seek oral care as soon as they can. “The COVID-19 crisis upended our way of life and the disruption of routine healthcare will continue to have long term impacts on our society.” He further explained, “Sometimes, it takes a global crisis to focus on what’s important. Your family’s oral health matters now more than ever before.” 

The Super Dentists is located at 390 W Valley Pkwy, Escondido, CA 92025. (760) 336-8478

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Sunny Side Kitchen Sees the Bright Side Post-Pandemic

Bob and Kate Carpenter opened Sunny Side Kitchen in Escondido five years ago to make fresh, homemade food for the community. 

“We call it California Cuisine,” said Kate. “Our recipes are inspired by California cultures.” 

Owners Bob and Kate have a tight-knit team of staff and interns at Sunny Side Kitchen

The eatery’s menu includes crustless quiches, fruit cups, soups, salads, panini sandwiches on fresh baked sourdough from local bakery Bread & Cie, and assorted drinks. 

Local hairdressers and their clients, CPAs, attorneys, and nearby medical offices have flocked to Sunny Side Kitchen since it opened and have remained loyal regulars. “Our customers are people who are busy,” said Bob. “And they care about the food they are putting in their body. We make everything from scratch to order.” 

This loyalty is what helped the Carpenters stay open through the pandemic and was boosted by some new patrons too. “This community is trying really hard to support independent restaurants,” said Bob, who added that many new customers found them on Escondido Eats (a City and Chamber of Commerce partnership). “It’s very heartwarming.” 

Even with the support, their business dropped 50% when other local businesses around them were shuttered and foot traffic came to a standstill. 

However, as regulations have been lifted and people are getting back to work they are seeing an increase in sales. “We have been crawling back,” Bob said. 

The Carpenters were able to survive in part because they slightly shifted their business model to accommodate take-out only. “We are a very small place,” Bob said. “Before COVID-19, there was only customer seating for 12 outside and 12 inside. So when COVID hit, it wasn’t a huge pivot, and everything had to be to-go.” 

Included in the to-go orders were prepared dinners. “We didn’t want to stay open later but we thought we could supply people dinner,” Bob said. These “Dinner at Home” meals for four include meatloaf, roasted chicken, a noodle bake, and sides, available a la carte. “They’ve been very popular and it’s what saved us in the beginning.”

This noodle bake to-go meal is one of the eatery's many delicious meal offerings

Bob said now with the dining room opened, people are still being very cautious. Meanwhile, the tables outside are spaced further apart for social distancing.

New regulations have also made the in-dining area smaller. “We only have two tables inside,” he said. “People seem to be more comfortable sitting outside.” 

The Carpenters feel the City of Escondido has been supportive and creative in adjusting to the new standards - the Escondido Business Recovery Strategy is a fine example of that. 

“The City has been amazing,” Bob said. “They have been really proactive. I was surprised at how progressive they were. And they said they want to let restaurants spread out beyond the normal boundaries and maybe even use the parking lot for tables. It’s really nice to see that they are trying to work to make it better.”

Owner Kate holds a tray of delicious, fresh-baked cookies

Overall, the Carpenters say they are lucky to be where they are. Kate said, “In general it has been really hard but, we have been lucky and are grateful to the community of Escondido. They are very supportive. We are happy to be working in this community, feeding them, and being here for them.”

Sunny Side Kitchen  is located at 155 S Orange Street in Escondido.

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May 2020

This Escondido Business Owner Knows Shopping Local Helps Drive a Community

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This Escondido Business Owner Knows Shopping Local Helps Drive a Community

As our nation begins to reopen and find its way to a new normal, many consumers are looking more to their own communities for goods and services. For Glen Burford, VP of Business Development at Glennie’s Office Products, shopping locally has always been a priority and something he endorses.

“We promote the buy local philosophy,” said Burford, who has created a marketing page that outlines the advantages of buying local in communities, including the estimate that $68 of every $100 spent in a community stays in the community. “It helps people understand the impact.”

Local government and businesses can count on Glennie's Office Products for many of their essentials

Glennie’s Office Products  - which services San Diego County and Southwestern Riverside - opened in 1967 and has stores on 5th Avenue in Escondido and Temecula. 

The specialty store has a wide range of office supplies and products, including furniture, technology needs, general supplies, promotional products, storage solutions, breakroom treats, and janitorial supplies. 

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, janitorial supplies have been the hot item - something Burford said has been flying off the shelves. “The regular office products are not moving right now, but all things related to sanitizer, toilet paper, paper products, and sanitizing products are,” he said, adding that janitorial/sanitation sales jumped from 15% to 65% of his business.  

Although the retail business is open for walk-in customers, Glennie’s Office Products is mostly a business-to-business operation. “We are providing for doctors’ offices, government and city offices, fire departments, and water departments,” said Burford. “We do a little bit of retail, but we’ve seen a lot more walk-ins because we have products that others have had a hard time finding,” Burford said. 

One of these items is hand sanitizer. Burford found a way to supply hand sanitizer while also supporting a local business owner. Burford, who is a member of the Escondido Rotary East, worked with a fellow rotarian, Debbie Young, the owner of  Escondido-based Sculpt Nouveau. Young found a way to use her existing supplies to make and sell hand sanitizer. 

Sculpt Nouveau specializes in patina and metal finishing products, which include chemicals that Young realized could be made into hand sanitizer. And so, using the FDA guidelines, she started creating hand sanitizers. “She made some for general rotarians,” Burford said.

Working with the Rotary, they found a way to give some of it to those in need. Kevin Bowcock, President of Escondido Rotary East, said, “Our club donated 90 bottles of hand sanitizer to Interfaith with the help of Sculpt Nouveau, who pivoted a portion of its business at a time when it is in obvious need.”

Young has also partnered with Glennie’s Office Products to provide hand sanitizer to the Escondido community. “She started whipping up batches and putting them in bottles and we started pushing them out the door,” Burford said. 

One client who had an immediate need for the hand sanitizer was the Escondido Public Works Department. “While City Public Works purchases materials from local Escondido businesses whenever possible, the City was in great need of hand sanitizer in April, which was out of stock with most vendors at the time,” said Amber Tarrac, Deputy Director of Economic Development for the City of Escondido. “The City discovered a local partnership wherein Sculpt Nouveau provided chemicals to Glennie’s Office Products to mix and distribute hand sanitizer. This was a great demonstration of pivoting materials, labor, and resources in order to meet current demand. The City is grateful that we were able to purchase hand sanitizer through this partnership and remains steadfast in our commitment to continue to support local businesses.” 

Meanwhile, Burford is trying to get other hard-to-find products in his stores, including face masks. “We are hoping to get 38,000 face masks. But almost half of those are gone already.” 

Burford said finding these necessary products for his customers has become a mission. “We have one of our employees checking stock all the time for gloves and sanitizer and cleaning products.”

As an essential business, Glennie’s Office Products has stayed open throughout the pandemic, but like many, Burford has seen a shift in their business practices. “Right now we are seeing most of our business come from city government offices and health care businesses and organizations they work with.”

Many of these organizations continue to work with Burford because, as he said, “They understand that we provide more than just a webpage to buy from. We have product knowledge and we can out-service any of the big-box competitors, any day of the week.”

Creating a business-to-business atmosphere in the community provides other benefits as well. “The big corporations are great,” said Burford, “but they support big-name charities. The local charities are supported by local business.”

Some of the local charities Glennie’s has supported include sporting teams, schools, and one close to Burford’s heart, the Escondido Community Child Development Center. “They do great outreach and support for preschoolers and low income families in our community.” 

Burford further explained, “We are neighbors, we live in town, so what happens to our community matters to us. We know people who are hurting right now, we know people who are out of jobs right now. What happens in Escondido, San Marcos, Valley Center and Temecula impacts us directly. So that’s why it’s important to support the community right now.”

For Burford, that means working through the changes and adjusting as needed. “Right now it’s adapt, overcome, meet the needs.” He acknowledges that even while he tries to adapt, it is still a struggle. “It’s not the glory days, but we are grateful that we are able to stay open and do some business. We know there are a lot of people struggling with their businesses, and our hearts go out to them.”

Fortunately Burford is seeing a shift happening. “We are seeing a lot of companies buy stuff in preparation for reopening. I see that they are getting ready.” 

This is a promising sign of hope and Burford joked that someday he hopes to celebrate a new normal. “I’m going to ring a bell every time somebody buys a box of paper clips.”

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A Workspace for Today’s Entrepreneur

Months before the COVID-19 pandemic overtook the country, husband and wife team David and Natalie Williams opened LocalHub, a 12,000-square-foot coworking space located at 355 E. Grand Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025, in the heart of downtown Escondido. Its outdoor brick building is complemented by its indoor multi-level industrial chic design. Some of LocalHub’s amenities include a conference room, working spaces, flex seating, a multipurpose room for podcasting, interviews, photography, and multimedia, and even a kitchen prep area. Natalie added, “If you have a business interest, we can find a solution to meet it.”

LocalHub owners Natalie and David Williams

Coworking spaces have been popping up in cities across the nation, and even as the pandemic has forced people to temporarily stay and work at home, David and Natalie feel Escondido is ready for this type of workspace. David explained, “Natalie and I wanted to do this to really build community.”

Natalie agreed. “We really want to be a business magnet and bring more big-quality businesses here to Escondido.”

LocalHub gives small business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers a space to work, conduct meetings, use shared resources, and collaborate with others. As a membership-based commitment, it helps this workforce keep a low overhead while enjoying many resources of a bigger office or corporation. 

“It alleviates business owners, entrepreneurs, and remote workers from having to look for a lease or lease a long-term building or space. It's a very slow commitment, most are 30 days. It allows for month-to-month growth to expand their team. They pay memberships as they add members,” said David.

As businesses grow, individual memberships can shift into various tiers of involvement. “Our members can become mentors, partners, and thought leaders within our network, and our hope is that partnerships form, not just with LocalHub but within the LocalHub community as well,” David said. 

He went on to explain some of the other advantages to co-working spaces. “It’s a great opportunity for people to have a place to work as a team, collectively as a community or individually. They work here with other people to interact with and grow their network and to even see what other people are doing and validate what they are doing themselves.” 

LocalHub is one of a handful of coworking spaces along the 78 Corridor that contribute to the success of local entrepreneurs and startups, as well as the community at large.

LocalHub provides its members with desks that can be moved in various formations

As a remote worker in the tech industry, David realizes both the appeal and necessity of these creative spaces. LocalHubs industry chic look with exposed fixtures, concrete floors and pops of color furnishings, give it a welcome feel.  “When you create spaces where you don’t have to work from a coffee shop or take a meeting from your home, it allows for a more professional atmosphere.” He added, “One of the biggest success factors is around the culture it creates. It’s a great place for people to have a place to work as a team, collectively, as a community or individually.” 

This type of atmosphere also allows for individuals and new businesses to grow their network. Networking is something David and Natalie promote in many ways at LocalHub. “We have networking events every month,” Natalie said, adding that through the stay-at-home order, they have been working virtually for those who cannot come into the space. “We really believe true networking is based on relationships.”

LocalHub's open floor plan includes a comfortable setting for lounging, meeting, or for guests

David agreed.“We are set up on relationships. One of the first questions we ask new members is, what can they bring to the community? This gives every member a buy in to the community. That is one of our core principles.” .

New businesses in Escondido that have already become members at LocalHub include:

LocalHub has been able to remain open during the pandemic because it is considered an essential business. Like other essential businesses that are open, the coworking space is following current COVID-19 guidelines. “We are in contact with the Mayor’s office, and we have set up restrictions so that we can adhere to those and the new guidelines,” Natalie said.  

This includes having limited numbers of members in the space at one time, keeping six foot separation, and cleaning all products after use. “Everybody is more than happy to adhere to these rules, because they want to come in to work.” 

For members who prefer to stay at home during this time, David and Natalie have set up a virtual office membership. These members will have access to LocalHub’s mailing service, community events, and web conferencing accounts for meetings. “Many people have been working from home right now so that has been our focus and has kept us busy,” David said. 

The WFH order bodes well with how the Williamses plan to expand their business. While they plan to open multiple locations, the virtual trial is setting a precedent for virtual expansion. “Our physical memberships could grow to 240 here at our Escondido location. We are also creating a virtual community on top of our physical location; I think with the capacity of the space, and a large community, it would really drive value for all our members and our city,” said David, who believes a virtual community could span a larger geographic area and could increase membership substantially. 

Meanwhile, Natalie is hopeful that once the stay-at-home orders begin to ease more, people will be eager to come back to creative environments like LocalHub. “There are going to be people who need a new space to have a meeting, make calls and work without the noise of their homes.”

The couple also sees Escondido as a prime location for new businesses. “I think Escondido is ripe for innovation,” said David. “It’s ready for this community boost that we are going to bring.”

The Williamses live and work in Escondido and are big supporters of the community. “I think we are in a city that is growing and developing into something new and special,” said David. “It’s a big community vibe that is walkable and full of family events. Businesses encourage this and invite people to hang out and experience the city.” 

Natalie agreed and believes LocalHub will blend in well with Escondido’s business environment while helping to encourage new businesses to reap these benefits as well. “For Escondido to thrive, we need strong businesses here, we need young entrepreneurs who just want to give back. The more high caliber we bring in, the more it’s going to impact our city.”

Updates on LocalHub can be found on Instagram and Facebook.

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