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Success stories

Stone & Embers, Philo

“First time restaurateurs successfully launch eatery”

Stone and Embers is a new restaurant nestled in the Philo, CA boutique resort called The Madrones. Chef and Owner, Patrick Meany, specializes in local, seasonal, and wood-fired cooking that reflects the rustic-yet-refined setting in the heart of the Anderson Valley.  It is open Friday-Tuesday for both lunch and dinner, and has already garnered a great deal of praise for its delicious food and beautiful setting.

Slam Dunk Pizza, Ukiah

“Sports themed pizzeria scores loan”

Slam Dunk Pizza is a sports-themed pizza restaurant in Ukiah, California. Owners, Matt and Stephanie Dunken, both have a background in pizza business, but this is the first business they have owned themselves. Their restaurant offers a variety of toppings as well as “house specialty” pizzas, burgers, beer, and soft drinks. Slam Dunk Pizzas are available for pick up, delivery, or for onsite consumption, where patrons can also view sports on TV and enjoy arcade games. Slam Dunk Pizza also welcomes groups to hold events in either of its two party rooms.

Beautiful Earth, Fort Bragg

“Geology enthusiast makes dream store a reality”

Gary Mason read a book about starting a rock shop in 7th grade and has been thinking about it ever since. His dream came true on December 5th, 2013 when he opened his business, Beautiful Earth. Beautiful Earth is a small retail shop in Fort Bragg that offers minerals, fossils, meteorites, gems, stone beads, gem elixirs, and supplies. It is also a gallery for art of all media inspired by the Earth. In addition to being a retail shop, Mason uses Beautiful Earth as a classroom for a mineral and gem elixir course series. Having taught high school Earth Science and Mineralogy Lab at Chico State, Mason is able to share a wealth of knowledge about the specimens he offers.

Hopland Ale House, Hopland

Hopland Ale House is located in the former Hopland Brewery off Highway 101 in Hopland. Jennifer Sullivan fell in love with the Hopland area and moved to Hopland from San Jose in April of 2012. She renovated the space and opened the Hopland Ale House for business in December of 2012. The Ale House serves beer, wine, sandwiches, chili, and a variety of other high-quality entrees and offers live music, televised sports, and other events to entertain patrons. Jennifer has had great reviews of her food, drink, and service since opening and showed a profit in her first month.

Saucy, Ukiah

"Saucy will be celebrating its third anniversary in October, 2015, and sometimes I have to pinch myself. I have never taken for granted the amount of gratitude that I owe to the Mendocino County SBDC, as without them and without my consultant, Nancy Banker, there would have never been a Saucy. They stuck with me over the course of two years and three business plans before we found the RIGHT DEAL! They were instrumental in helping me to find potential sources of funding, and oversaw all of my submissions to potential lenders. Nancy Banker was the rock that stood behind me when I wavered, and she reined me in when I got off track.  Mendocino County SBDC workshops in Profit Mastering, Marketing & Employee Management have also been an integral part in learning how to be a better operator, a better employer, and create better business.  While on a daily basis now, I attribute Saucy's success to the amazing team of employees that works hard every day for it, I know that Saucy wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for all of the efforts and support from Nancy and the Mendocino County SBDC. I highly recommend The Mendocino County SBDC to any serious entrepreneur with a solid business idea and the gumption to fulfill their dream!"

Noyo Theatre, Willits

The Noyo Theatre is a classic movie theater that opened in the small town of Willits, CA in 1940. Jeff and Lois Hoover are former entertainment industry employees (Lois in film, Jeff in theater) from Southern California who moved to Willits in 2011 with the dream of starting their own business in this community-oriented small town. After reviewing several local businesses for sale with their SBDC advisor, Jeff and Lois Hoover negotiated an SBA loan and the purchase of The Noyo Theatre in June of 2012.

Titan Enterprises, Fort Bragg

Titan Enterprises is a sole proprietorship owned by Sunn Dorsey of Fort Bragg, California. Dorsey started out working in construction before learning welding and beginning to make custom truck racks several years ago. He began making his own custom truck racks in 2009, and has recently expanded his business to include all types of fabrication, welding, and related work. Dorsey’s busy new shop at Noyo Harbor still makes custom truck racks and gets orders for these racks from all over California, but he has also been working a great deal with the fisheries at Noyo Harbor doing boat repair, fishing equipment repair, and related metalwork, and this line of work has become an important part of his business. He has used his connections at the harbor and in the construction industry to obtain a number of jobs doing handrails for handicap access ramps, for showers, and for other custom jobs as well.

Mendocino Solar Service, Little River

Mendocino Solar Service was started in 1994 to provide sales, installation, and service of solar systems to Mendocino County residents. Bruce Erickson and Maggie Watson bought the business in 2005 from its founder. Erickson and Watson now employ 4 people and to help them design, sell, install, and service solar systems all over the county. They are also solar contractors for GRID Alternatives, a non-profit that provides solar systems on low income homes.

Happy Woman Jewelry, Redwood Valley

Laura Buckner first became a West Company client in 2002, and she returned in 2010.  She is an artist who designs and makes beautiful one-of-a-kind gemstone jewelry.  Over the years she has built up a loyal customer base of approximately forty retail stores in Mendocino county and surrounding areas.

To sell her jewelry, Laura has traveled to visit her customers personally at their retail stores; she has also participated in several local gift shows and community events throughout the year. Her personal touch and word-of-mouth marketing has served well to gradually grow her business and has provided a consistent, modest annual income through small orders.

Pacific Preserves, Fort Bragg

Rebecca "Becky" Ahmadi has held a variety of jobs in her life, from restroom attendant and bowling alley manager to a forest service researcher and hydrologist. But she admits the toughest job she’s had is being her own boss and starting a business.

Ahmadi is the owner of Pacific Preserves, a jam and jelly company she started in early 2010 with the help of the Mendocino Women’s Business Center. Ahmadi is also the jam and jelly maker, the head of sales and the chief marketing officer for Pacific Preserves. She does everything, from buying fresh fruit from local farmers to mashing it by hand before using the correct combination of fruit, pectin, acid and sugar to produce a variety of tasty products she sells at local farmer’s markets.