2013 Crumbzz/FAC Patio Party


 Every year, Crumbzz celebrates the start of the spring-summer season with a patio party at our Forney Tasting Pavilion. It sounds pretty mundane and straight forward. Announce the party to your local clientele, put together a few fun things to do, pretty up the patio and zippo, your ready to go. NOT! I can tell you from our experience with each party, putting together a patio party is not close to simple.

Now I realize that part of the problem may be me. As a perfectionist, I have my hands in everything and what starts out as a simple project often balloons into a major event. Be that as it may, we thought you’d like to know just what goes into an event such as this.


We’ve been planning this event since February. In February, my team and I sit down and white board what we think should go into the event. What worked last year and what didn’t. What new things might work. What can we handle and what is over and above our capabilities.

We than meet with our partner, The Forney Art Council (FAC) to discuss event ideas, logistics and the division of responsibilities. From that point on, we meet weekly until the day of the event to update our progress, discuss challenges and fill any holes. This year, our contact at the FAC was Liz Lawless. Liz has experience in marketing, publishing, radio, as well as the art world and she proved to be invaluable in assisting us in creating a successful event. 

There were several givens; Live music, a new product release, art demonstrations, prizes and gifts, were among them. Other ideas (like the involvement of other town vendors, a before and after makeover, etc., came about through the creative process. In the end, we felt we had a pretty good package that would provide something for everyone.


Last years patio party proved to be an ideal vehicle to introduce a new flavor crumb cake, so it was a forgone conclusion that we would introduce a new flavor crumb cake. I wanted this years flavor to be something that would speak to summer. From concept to product development, to tastings and back again to development, time and time again, creating a new flavor is a timely process that can take several month’s.

This particular development curve took a little over four month’s. We tried a multitude of flavors on our more than willing local guests. Some were okay, others we just couldn’t get to where we wanted them to be, no matter how many attempts.  Finally after eliminating the also rans, we came down to five contenders; Bialys Irish Cream, Key Lime Pie, Red Velvet Cake, Strawberry Cheesecake and Strawberry Rhubarb. In the end, the Key Lime Pie Crumb Cake won the day. It definitely spoke to summer, and the tart lime complimented our sweet crumb cakes beautifully.  (Although the Key Lime Pie Crumb Cake was the winner, we liked the Strawberry Rhubarb so much that we introduced it in June for a short one month offering that turned out to be quite popular.)

Although our cake tastings took time, what we didn’t realize is that developing a new flavor cake would be the easiest part of the whole event! 


Since Forney’s Historic Downtown is starting to experience a re-birth, we thought it would be best to make this years party not only OUR patio party but to use it as a “meet and greet” event for all downtown vendors.

Putting together multiple vendors is a bit like herding cats. And our cat’s were everywhere. We wanted to have a steady flow of activities throughout the day. Music, art, fashion, were all part of the equation. Putting together all the different events and choreographing them to seamlessly work together was no simple task.

Last year the fashion show by Groovy’s, a local ladies boutique, was a big hit. And so, we asked Groovy’s to join us once again. Most small town vendors are not marketing savvy. Explaining the how, what and where can be a real challenge. Groovy’s is one of the few vendors who is extremely marketing savvy. They came up with a different twist using well known local woman as models.  We also included for the first time two other local ladies fashion boutique’s, Plush and Lauren’s Closet, to show off their stuff.

Not sure why but, getting local musicians to perform during the day proved to be much harder than imagined. The Forney Art Council (FAC), our partner in this event, handled the musicians. Thank God, because up to the day of the event, they were still scrambling to pin down acts.

We came up with what we thought was a catchy idea to have one of our local beauty salons (Touch Up Beauty)  choose a willing participant to subject themselves to a “Before” & “After” makeover, complete with photographs and all. That idea turned out to be a big hit.

Since the Forney Historical Society is building a beautiful museum in our downtown area, we got them to speak about Forney history and to show some never before seen photos of our town.

The FAC corralled two artists (Michael Gillespie & Kathy Mackey) to paint live in front of our Tasting Pavilion and a Spinner (Susan Holden) to provide an interesting historic spinner demonstration.

The FAC also agreed to hold their Festival Poster Design Contest during the patio party with local celebrity judges handling the gala event.

To wrap up the day, local horticulturist John Homesley of Homesley Landscaping & Gardening spoke about summer gardening tips on our patio.


Getting a multitude of participants was just one part of the party. We also asked every vendor in the downtown area to donate coupons/certificates, etc. We used these gifts to fill a goody bag, which we gave out to the first 50 guests. Getting coupons/certificates, etc. proved to be one of our biggest challenges. Although we ended up representing most of the local vendors, most had never printed a coupon/certificate, which forced us to improvise with business cards, promo’s we created, etc. 

The goody bag certificates and coupons turned out to be a great success but needed much more advance planning and time budgeted than we expected. 


To add to the excitement, we put together eleven special door prizes to be presented every half hour to a lucky guest. From dinner for two, wine glasses, plants, paintings, antiques, music and designer tote bags there was something for everyone. Since we didn’t want people sitting at a table all day waiting to see if they won a gift, we made it so entrants did not have to be there for their winnings. We had each entrant fill out a card with their name, email address, and phone number. Although we were tasked with having to contact every winner by email/phone, we felt this was a better method and would be welcomed by all participants. 

This program was actually easier than we thought, as most vendors had something that they could provide that would ideally represent their professions. The goody bag and the prizes were also a great way to introduce the town to everything our downtown vendors have to offer.


One of the biggest challenges was how to advertise our party. With no budget to speak of, a newspaper advertisement was not an option. The FAC did manage to get our event in a couple of magazine “calendar of events” sections. 

Crumbzz and the FAC also email blasted a promo to all our clients and members. (BTW, we use MailChimp to create and distribute all our email blasts. They work great for us and best of all, are free). 

We also used social media, posting to our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Finally, we asked our participating vendors to let their customers know about the event.


Our formula for rating the success of our patio party consisted of four elements.

  1. Did it bring people downtown?… Check
  2. Did it introduce people to the many vendors we have in our growing downtown?…. Check
  3. Did it generate business and exposure for Crumbzz & the FAC?… Check
  4. Did it generate business for our partnering vendors?… We hope so, but only time will tell


With all the work and time it took to pull off our party, with all the people involved in the project (my staff, the FAC and the participating vendors), would we do it again?……

We’ll let you know next year when the pain of putting it all together has faded from memory and only memories of the fun we had remains!

J Stephen


Crumbzz Wins The Best Downtown Business In Texas Award for 2012

Kim Buttram The Director of The Forney Economic Development Corporation, J Stephen Sadler Owner of Crumbzz and Darren Rozell The Mayor of Forney, at the Texas Presidents Awards Gala.

With seven thousand entrants, the Best Downtown Business in Texas Award is a coveted prize that is sought out by communities and businesses from across the state. The City of Forney and Crumbzz started the celebrations when they were notified in September by the Texas Downtown Association (TDA) that they were one of the final seven nominees to be considered for the award. To overcome such odds and make it to the final seven was an accomplishment in and of itself. To win the award is a major accomplishment of Crumbzz, The City of Forney, the Economic Development Corporation of Forney as well as The Forney Art Council (whose beautiful Hall of Art art gallery is housed in the Crumbzz Tasting Pavilion.)

Since 1998 the TDA has recognized over 150 projects, events and people that make a difference in Texas downtowns. The best Downtown Business award recognizes an exceptional downtown business that positively promotes the downtown or commercial district as a destination for locals and tourists alike, and actively participates in the revitalization efforts and supports downtown promotional events.

Winners were announced on November 8 at the Presidents Awards Gala held in conjunction with the 2012 Texas Downtown Development and Revitalization Conference in Wichita Falls. The event featured awards for; The Best Commercial Interior, The Best Renovation / Rehabilitation, The Best Restoration, The Best New Construction, The Best Public Improvement, The Best Marketing Program, The Best Promotional Event, The Best Downtown Partner and the most coveted The Best Downtown Business Award.

Judging for the awards took place on Thursday, September 6, in Austin. The distinguished jury panel included the following representatives: Martin Bevins, Texas Co-op Power Magazine; Diana Blank, Kyle Economic Development Corporation; Melissa Burnett, Downtown Alliance San Antonio; Julie Fitch, Downtown Austin Alliance; and Kevin Walker, Community Revitalization Strategies.

The Texas Downtown Association, established in 1985, is a statewide nonprofit organization comprised of almost 400 members involved in downtown revitalization projects.  By fostering development and revitalization, TDA strives to enhance the economic vitality of Texas downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts by providing resources, networking opportunities, education and advocacy.

Crumbzz was presented with the award because of how the company, the City of Forney and the non-profit Forney Art Council (FAC) overcame the many challenges they faced as they joined together to create a truly unique  experience in a small Texas Historic Downtown. By having an established base of worldwide clientele, joining with the City of Forney to build a world-class european bistro and partnering with the FAC to house the Forney Gallery of Arts, Crumbzz instantly created a destination business for visitors and locals alike. An accomplishment that often takes years to accomplish. The City of Forney now has the cornerstone in their effort to revitalize Historic Downtown Forney and make it THE destination for Texans AND out-of-state visitors.

Crumbzz named a finalist in Best Downtown Business in Texas awards program

Austin, Texas – September 7, 2012 – Crumbzz Tasting Pavilion in downtown Forney has been named a finalist in the Best Downtown Business category of the 2012 Texas Downtown Association (TDA) Presidents Awards Program. Since 1998, the Awards Program has recognized more than 150 projects, events and people that make a difference in Texas downtowns.
The Best Downtown Business award recognizes an exceptional downtown business that positively promotes the downtown or commercial district as a destination for locals and tourists alike, and actively participates in the revitalization efforts and supports downtown promotional events. 

Winners will be announced on November 8 at the Presidents Awards Gala held in conjunction with the 2012 Texas Downtown Development and Revitalization Conference in Wichita Falls. 

Judging for the awards took place on Thursday, September 6, in Austin. The distinguished jury panel included the following representatives: Martin Bevins, Texas Co-op Power Magazine; Diana Blank, Kyle Economic Development Corporation; Melissa Burnett, Downtown Alliance San Antonio; Julie Fitch, Downtown Austin Alliance; and Kevin Walker, Community Revitalization Strategies. 

The Texas Downtown Association, established in 1985, is a statewide nonprofit organization comprised of almost 400 members involved in downtown revitalization projects. By fostering development and revitalization, TDA strives to enhance the economic vitality of Texas downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts by providing resources, networking opportunities, education and advocacy. For more information, visit www.texasdowntown.org.

Crumbzz Chocolate Sustainable Farming Goal Hits 100%!



Through the Growing Great Chocolate™ programme, our cocoa provider partners up with the cocoa farmer cooperative through our cocoa provider, enabling us to introduce good agricultural practices, improve crop quality, and of course, pay directly so that the farmers are guaranteed a fair price without having to share with middlemen and traders.

Through the partnership, each party mutually commit to work together and improve the quality of the cocoa, the farms and the living standards of farmers and their families.


In farmer field schools, farmers are taught about the complex cocoa processes, from soil management to bean fermentation and drying. The result is clearly visible: crop yields have been increasing year after year. Furthermore, yields of top-grade cocoa beans are rising – the grade Crumbzz requires for its Chocolat de la Terre Crumbzz Cakes and MiniZZ™ Snack Cakes.


Understanding the importance of planting trees, our cocoa provider has established tree nurseries, where they grow cocoa trees and the taller shade trees on which cocoa trees depend to mature properly. Cocoa farmers can buy seedlings of both types at a low price and plant both for tomorrow’s cocoa and ecological diversity.


What exactly do the farmers learn?

In farmer field schools, farmers in the participating cooperatives are trained on better cultivation methods and agricultural practices.

Member farmers learn integral aspects of cocoa farming such as:

  • healthy soil management techniques
  • switching from monoculture to mixed cultivation
  • rejuvenating the plantations with new trees and grafting techniques
  • minimizing chemical use
  • natural pest control
  • weeding and pruning
  • tree rejuvenation
  • crop diversity.

Sound production is the first step towards growing quality cocoa, and improving the crop quality and quantity in these countries sustains both the crops and farmers’ cocoa growing.

How do we guarantee that the price we pay for the cocoa beans is fair?

The cocoa farmer cooperatives can sell their crops to the highest bidder on the market. In this way they get the best price for their cocoa beans. It also allows them to invest in equipment, logistics and other integral elements of the process.

We are proud of the accomplishment our cocoa provider has made in putting together a program that satisfies the Crumbzz fair trade and sustainable farming mission.

J Stephen

Creating Unique Tasting Pavilion Offerings


Opening our first Tasting Pavilion was a major undertaking in and of itself. Deciding on and then creating offerings for our new home presented a new set of unique challenges.

The menu process began several month’s prior to the actual building of the tasting pavilion.

Originally, we planned to offer a simple menu of Crumbzz Cakes, coffees and tea’s. As our vision of the tasting pavilion morphed into its current iteration, we realized we would need much more than the planned simple menu to compliment our beautiful new home.

As with our cakes, we wanted each and every offering to be special. We soon realized that creating dishes that lived up to our cakes was not going to be an easy task.

The first step in the process was deciding on what to offer. Early on, we decided that every dish had to compliment our brand; upscale, the finest quality, no preservatives or additives and unique. This also meant that we would be focusing primarily on breakfast and lunch offerings.

Locating the finest quality ingredients for our offerings was the easy part. We had built wonderful relationships with quality suppliers for our crumb cakes and would be able to expand on those relationships to procure the ingredients we required for our new offerings.

It soon became clear that, our biggest challenge would be the creation of unique offerings.

We knew our crumb cakes were special and unique but they had attained that reputation over hundreds of years. We had to create dishes that would be at that level, from the start, in a few short month’s!

How to make a better egg

Although we use eggs from cage-free chickens for our crumb cakes, eggs are pretty much eggs and there is no way we could find to make a better egg.  So we set out to make a better egg dish.

Egg Omelets

Our first egg dish was a pretty logical creation from an economic and environmental sense. The making of our crumb cakes leaves us with an enormous amount of egg whites. Making an egg-white omelet solved not only the economic and environmental issue but also provided our tasting pavilion guests with a healthy breakfast alternative.

To make our omelet special we added garden fresh baby spinach and just the right amount of parmesan. Light and fluffy, our egg white omelets are now a big hit at the tasting pavilion.

Our Soufflé

Our second egg dish was much more of a challenge. We really wanted it to be special and special meant a soufflé. Egg soufflé’s are notoriously finicky to make. One has to be well versed in their creation to make a great one every time.

We worked month’s on getting our process down to where we had confidence we could produce a superior product every time. Our Béchamel is one of the keys to our success. It is light and creamy and adds a wonderful silky texture to each soufflé’.

The choice of the finest Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheeses was another factor. There is such a difference in flavor between the finest Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano  cheeses and their counterparts that we were more than willing to pay the difference in price (which is as substantial as the taste differences.)

Adding locally grown, fresh shallots was the final touch in producing a soufflé that we believe is second to none.

Searching the World for the Finest Waffle

There are good waffles and bad waffles. As is our DNA, we wanted not just a better waffle, we wanted something special. Something no one had experienced.

We set about polling the industry and using the greatest research tool in the world (the Internet), came back with the Liège.

Authentic Guafre Liege waffles are one of life’s great treasures.  Caramelized sugar glistening on the most delicious buttery-sweet goodness beneath.

Originating in Liège Belgium, the original waffle recipe is nearly impossible to find. In Belgium, chains like Belgaufre have taken them far afield from their 18th century brioche roots.

In the U.S. chains use inferior sugar (because of cost) or produce substandard pre-made frozen balls of dough from Europe (because of the savings in labor and time).

We realized early on, to enjoy the unique taste of this very special waffle, we would need to go back to the original recipe’s and make it from scratch ourselves.

Our research led us to a small waffle maker in Liège Belgium who tirelessly worked with us to produce “authentiek” Liège Waffles.

Our initial attempts failed miserably because of the mechanical failure of traditional U. S. waffle machines (the unique characteristics of a Liège Waffle quickly destroy’s regular waffle machines). And so, we invested in a custom  Liège Waffle maker from Belgium.

Two month’s and $3,600 later, we had our waffle maker and were on our way to constructing our very own Liège Waffles.

Our “original” recipe was complimented with our own personal touches to produce a Crumbzz Liège Waffle.

Topped with our own Cinnamon Streusel Butter, they are truly the finest waffle you will ever taste.

A Look to Mom for an Italian Twist on Pancakes

Just as we used my dad’s family recipe for our crumb cakes, my mom’s family recipe provided the basis for our Gamberia Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.

Named after the beautiful Villa Gamberaia in the hills of Florence, where my mom’s family heritage originated, our Gamberaia Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes provide our guests with a uniquely Italian twist on the traditional pancake.

Although Ricotta pancakes taste like traditional buttermilk pancakes, Ricotta add’s a fluffy, moist texture that is often lost in the more traditional buttermilk pancake.

The addition of fresh blueberries, powdered sugar and our family’s lemon butter topping, adds an Italian flair that produces an unusually light, refreshing pancake that can’t be beat.

Mushroom Spinach Quiche





There are two things to look for in a good quiche, the fluffiness of the eggs and the flakiness of the crust. Fresh made quiche has a light flaky crust and a light creamy feel. There is only one way to achieve this balance and that is to make your quiche from scratch. And that means not only the egg and vegetables but also the crust. Add garden fresh vegetables and you have the makings of a true culinary delight.

Our  Mushroom Spinach Quiche is not only a beauty to behold but also an exquisite dining experience that you won’t soon forget. Eggs whipped to perfection, light flaky crust that bursts with home cooked flavor and vegetables that provide the finishing touch of fresh picked garden flavors.

With the addition of fresh strawberries, grapes and orange garnish, our quiche has become a wonderful light breakfast or lunch for our Tasting Pavilion guests.

Our own Homemade Ice Cream

As ice cream lovers, we knew it would only be a matter of time before we produced ice cream at our tasting pavilion. In addition, many of our clients love the idea of adding a dollop of ice cream to our crumb cakes. And so, we set about creating our very own ice cream.

Making ice cream is a fairly simple process that most anyone can do. Making GOOD ice cream is also not a giant reach… at least from a development standpoint.

The key to good ice cream is in the butterfat content and in the use of natural ingredients. Finding the right method to incorporate that rich butterfat into the ice cream is key and can be quite a challenge to accomplish.

Most providers did not provide the butterfat richness we required to make a truly superior ice cream.

Our research also confirmed that the longer it took to freeze our product the more likely it would be to form ice crystals. The more ice crystals the less creamy the ice cream.

We eventually found a provider that would provide us with cream that had a sufficient butterfat content and we eventually figured out how to incorporate that creamy butterfat to get us half way there to the perfect ice cream.

About the same time we overcame our butterfat challenge, we learned of a way to make ice cream that would virtually eliminate ice crystals. That method is called Liquid Nitrogen.

Using Liquid Nitrogen to fast freeze our ice cream produces a wonderfully creamy finish that can’t be found in store bought ice cream.

And so we came to our last challenge… the flavor

We knew we wanted to incorporate the wonderful flavor of our cakes in our ice cream. The flavor we eventually chose was clearly the logical choice.

Cinnamon streusel is the flavor of our signature crumb cake and it was the original flavor in the family recipe, and so Cinnamon streusel carried on the tradition of being the first flavor of our homemade ice cream.

The end result of all our efforts is our Vanilla Cinnamon Crumbler. A delicious blend of homemade vanilla ice cream, infused with cinnamon streusel and topped with our oven toasted crumbs.

With the addition of a wonderful Garden Gourmand Salad that features garden fresh baby spinach, toasted walnuts, cranberries, homemade parmesan croutons and a spritz of light raspberry vinaigrette, our menu lineup was complete and the total package of beautiful ambiance, wonderful music, and exquisite dining offerings made our Crumbzz Forney Tasting Pavilion what it is today… a place to enjoy great friends, great food and life as it should be.

J Stephen

Next Month: Tasting Pavilion Stories

Welcome To The Crumbzz Tasting Pavilion

Friday, March 2, 2012

It took over a year and a budget that grew with every added day, but the Crumbzz Tasting Pavilion became a reality on January 27, 2012. That’s when Crumbzz held a black tie, invitation only party for the people who sacrificed their time and efforts to make our vision come to life.

Our 125 guests enjoyed fine food, great art and an insiders  tour of our wonderful new facility.

On January 28th, we threw open our doors to the public with an official ribbon cutting and enjoyed the company of over 325 visitors who shared our cakes, coffee’s and teas as well as music by local musicians, flash mob poetry, pottery demonstrations, real-time art creations and more.

The following week we presented our complete menu, which included not only our cakes and Minizz but also some rather unique offerings (more on those in next month’s post). But the star of all these events was clearly our new baby, our first Tasting Pavilion.

Located in Historic Downtown Forney, and built in the beautiful old Spellman Building, an 1880’s structure that has sheltered many of Forney’s finest, our Tasting Pavilion is truly a beauty to behold.

Fantiscritti Tuscany Italian Marble counters from the same quarry as Michelangelo’s statue of David are complimented by Buckingham Slate floors and the original preserved bead wood ceiling.

Custom Corona accent lighting peeks through the  beautifully sculpted, free-floating Velella sails that drift down from the ceiling. Authentic stage lighting is strategically placed to highlight the beautiful artwork of the local artisans of the Forney Art Council.

Sounds of Bocelli and Brightman fill the dining area, where guests enjoy the comfort of Carrera leather seating and sculptured aluminum tables, all designed to add to the chic feel of this exquisitely contemporary pavilion.

Each element is designed to provide our guests with an environment where they feel comfortable to kick back and enjoy the moment.

The unique look and feel of the Tasting Pavilion has already attracted attention from architects (famed architectural photographer Howard Doughty was one of our first visitors to photograph the many unique architectural elements of our pavilion) to movie producers (the producers of the short film New Hope found Crumbzz the perfect location to set the stage for their film, which will be aired at the LA 168 film festival in March).

Most importantly, our new home has gotten rave reviews from our guests.

To accomplish something as intricate as this project proved to be, we needed experts in each area that knew how to overcome the challenges we encountered on a daily basis.

We had a very specific vision of what our Tasting Pavilion should look like and how it should function. Choosing the right architect and general contractor were key elements in bringing that vision to reality.

After month’s of research, the design work was awarded to Ron Hobbs Architects and the construction of the project to General Contractor, Craig Randall Custom Remodeling.

Ron and his team were instrumental in converting our vision into reality. Their creative process enabled us to bring oftentimes vague ideas into fruition.

Praising the work of Ron and his team would not be complete without mentioning Wadona Stich, Ron’s Director of Interior Design. Wadona’s vision and focus on making this a memorable project, on all levels, was absolutely amazing. It became evident early on that the beauty of the design and quality of materials would not have happened without her direct involvement in every facet of the project.

Laying out on paper what needs to be done and how it should be completed is worth little if the general contractor, the person who oversee’s the actual construction of the project, is lacking in talent, commitment or ability.

Craig Randall had plenty of each. Craig’s intent to create nothing short of a masterpiece was evident in every facet of the job. Craig made sure the project reflected our vision and our architects requirements. He often went the extra mile in suggesting “improvements” whenever he noted an area that he felt could be improved, savings in areas that could be economized and workarounds for areas that could not be built as designed.

There were so many craftsman that were instrumental in the project coming together as envisioned and we are unable to name them all here, but a few stand out because of their amazing commitment to excellence.

Craftsman Jose Rodriguez of Natural Stone Designs who hand selected and crafted our beautiful marble counters into functioning works of art;

Austin Home Restorations, who installed one of the most stunning slate floors you will ever find in a bistro and did it over a challenging (half cement, half wood base structure), in the middle of our busiest construction days;

Armor Security who took it upon themselves to install not only a state of the art alarm system but also one of the best sound systems you’ll ever find;

Intex Electric, who proved that they were more than capable of solving the multiple lighting requirements of an art gallery, guest dining and culinary creation center that required multiple types of energy efficient spot lighting throughout;

Sun Painting who precisely matched our multiple color schemes and finishes and was also able to create the intricacies of achieving a multi-dimensional metallic finish in our culinary development area that met not only our extreme design requirements but also the county health department commercial kitchen requirements.

Our list would not be complete without including the committed members of The Forney Arts Council who planned, developed and hung the beautiful art work throughout the pavilion and finally The City of Forney whose dedication to create a special place in their historic downtown was evident throughout the project.

J Stephen

Next Month: Creating unique Tasting Pavilion offerings

The Crumbzz Journey

“You Only Live Once, But If  You Do It Right, Once Is Enough.”  

                                                                                               J. Lewis

Come along with us as we face the challenges of mediocrity, indifference and status quo in our mission to fulfill our quest to create the perfect crumb cake. J Stephen will take you with us to share in our journey across the world to locate the finest ingredients and rediscover lost baking methods in our “Quest For The Best”.

Our journey goes far beyond the baking of a cake. It involves the total customer experience. The enjoyment of our product is carefully matched by our beautiful packaging and our “you and me” concierge service.

Although our customer experience is the most visible sign that we are a different type of company, our relationships with our provisioner’s and the land where are ingredients come from, is just as much a part of who we are.

“Produce a superior offering that is made by people who are treated fairly, on land that is cared for properly.”

Our goal, to produce a superior offering that is made by people who are treated fairly, on land that is cared for properly, sounds easy.  I can assure you it’s not.  Vested interests, the “profit at all cost”  mentality and the belief that bigger better, all work against that goal.

But we decided from the start that if we can’t succeed doing it right, we’re not interested in doing it at all. For that reason, you will always find products that are less expensive than ours. Products that cut corners to increase profits.

What you won’t find, is a product that tastes as good as our Crumbzz Cakes and MiniZZ™ Snack Cakes, a product that uses any better  ingredients, and most importantly, a company that is more focused on serving all its stakeholders from the client, to the farmer, the worker and the land.

Join us now, on our journey to perfection…

J Stephen

It’s All In The Details

(original post date 09/30/11)

In our previous post we told you that Forney, TX was the city we chose to open our first Tasting Pavilion.

We also mentioned that we chose Forney because they not only fit our mission of working with local providers, being as green as possible and assuring we were a responsible corporate citizen, but also because Forney seemed different, a city that had a clear vision of what it wanted to be and a leadership committed to fulfill that vision.

But, having a vision and the will to drive that vision are only part of the story. Because they are bureaucratic by nature, so many towns get bogged down in the details that end up killing the very vision they are promoting.

Many a small business owner has watched in dismay as their hard work and plans have fallen to turf wars and ownership issues of small town governments.

Deal killers arise along every step of the process. Government doesn’t have to be big government to kill a small business. The tunnel vision of many small town departments clashes with the “how do we make it work” attitude of most small business owners.

Planning and zoning departments that won’t budge on zoning issues, building inspectors not interested in acceptable work-around’s, by-the-book adherence to the “rules”, are all issues that small business owners must overcome.

Our own experience working with other cities in the Dallas area provides an example of what small business owners must deal with.

As we mentioned in our previous post, because of its size and population base, it was only logical that The City of Dallas was tops on our list for our first Crumbzz Tasting Pavilion.

We looked at several areas. There were plenty of vacant buildings in areas we liked. Artsy areas like Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, Uptown, Downtown, Cedar’s, all had places that fit us nicely.

Most of the locations were empty buildings that were crying to be brought back to life. However, because we are a food establishment, the city required specific upgrades that drove our costs appreciably beyond our budget.

These upgrades were hidden in the “bring the building up to code” requirement. You see in Dallas, if a building is vacant for more than six month’s it now has to be brought “up to code”.

Since most buildings in these areas have been empty for much longer than six month’s, a potential business would be saddled with costs that would never justify the projected income generation from the property.

Since the cost to “bring up to code” is so prohibitive, it often is cheaper to knock the building down and build new. But Dallas wants to “preserve” its heritage and won’t let developers knock down its old buildings. And so, most of these great old buildings sit dormant on empty streets with little hope of a re-awakening.

We spoke to the Dallas EDC about this issue. Nice people, who understand the problem, but whose hands are tied because, as we were told by an EDC employee who asked not to be named, “right now the city is run by the planning and zoning department and they get their paychecks whether we have a vibrant community or a dead one.” A sad, but all too common occurrence.

On the other end of the scale is Seagoville, the town we worked with before Forney “found” us. Seagoville’s EDC is run by a committed Director who understands the need to breath life into the downtown area.

Unlike Dallas’ EDC, who has given in to the reality of their situation, Seagoville’s EDC actively promotes their town and is aggressive in incentives and support to attract potential small businesses.

Unfortunately, the EDC of Seagoville goes it alone. Not because of an adversarial position with the rest of the towns departments. Ambivalent would be a better description of the rest of the town’s view of its downtown area.

Ambivalence can slow down the process but the main issue that prevents Seagoville from attracting businesses to its downtown area is the very property owners themselves.

Resistant to change, unapproachable, unrealistic views of market conditions are key factors that prevent this little town from moving forward. And so Seagoville awaits a reality check of its owners and a commitment by its town before a re-awakening will occur.

And that’s where Forney shines.

To successfully rehabilitate a downtown, you must have a department that champions the town’s vision, an “owner” or “proponent” if you will

You’ll find owners in many towns. Some are committed to the vision and drive relentlessly to make their vision come to life only to be stymied by the rest of the town’s departments who see re-development as a challenge to their power bases.

Other “owners” pay homage to the plan but little else, viewing the town’s vision as a marketing tool rather than an actual re-development plan.

The proponent of Forney’s vision is Forney’s Economic Development Corporation. The 7 member board, Director, Kim Buttram and her staff are relentless in their quest to turn Downtown Forney into a vibrant destination area.

Kim and the EDC are one of the few fortunate champions who have a secret weapon to assure their success. That secret weapon is… the rest of the city. From the Mayor to the City Council, through every department, everyone is on board.

Each department knows what needs to be done and where they can assist to make it happen. The vision of a new Downtown Forney is THEIR vision. Every department leader is briefed on the status of the plan and is proactive in how their department can help make the plan a success.

How does that extrapolate down to the business owner? A few examples of our experience working with the City of Forney will serve to show how Forney is different.

Example #1: Bringing an old building “up to code” – Like Dallas, Forney wants it’s buildings to be safe and up to code. Unlike Dallas, Forney offers the required tools for assistance for the business owner to make it happen.

The EDC works directly with the involved departments on the who, what and where to complete the process. Financial incentive? Yes Forney provides a package that helps ease the pain, but it’s the direct assistance that really makes a difference.

Small business owners are focused on running their business and are often overwhelmed by the paper and process requirements of government. Forney helps facilitate all those requirements. The city made the cost financially acceptable AND the process seamless.

Example #2: Finding the right space – Forney helped us locate a wonderful old Victorian building in downtown, introduced us to the owner and helped package our offer. When that deal fell through, Forney found another building and when that space was found unsuitable for our use, actually traded their EDC offices with us so that we had a space suitable for our use!

Tell me where you’ll find that kind of commitment from any other city!

Example #3: City Involvement – Once you’re open, Forney doesn’t drop the ball and hope revenues roll in. Since the town views itself as your partner, it is with you all the way. Anything it can do to help make you more successful is open for discussion.

Our launch will coincide with a full-page announcement in the local paper, a ribbon cutting black tie event for VIP’s and a massive City of Forney grand opening ceremony for the general public. And Forney is a partner with us throughout the process, getting its officials out and the public involved each step of the way.

If you had to use one word to describe what sets Forney above the rest, that word would be “Commitment”, a commitment to making it happen. We found no other town to have it.

We look forward to being the first in what we believe will be a string of many small business owners, who will help bring a “Uniquely Forney” downtown back to life.

J Stephen

Next Month: Welcome To Our First Tasting Pavilion

If You Build It, They Will Come

(original post date 08/23/11)

Building our Tasting Pavilion was always in our plans but was an idea without a date. We have always seen the Tasting Pavilion as not only a social gathering place for Crumbzz Enthusiasts but also a testing place for new offerings and refinements.

Having done the “retail” thing before, we were not in a hurry to get into the grind once more. But we felt it was important to have a place where we could meet our clients and get real-time, first-hand input on our offerings.

As with everything Crumbzz, a lot of thought went into what we would offer, where we would offer it, how we would present it and when we would begin.

The first issue was the name. We weren’t a bakery or a restaurant. Bakeries are bright places with glass cases that display an assortment of baked items. People come in to purchase their baked goods and leave.

Restaurants offer all kinds of foods in a multitude of environments but their bottom line is usually focused on turning tables as quickly as possible.

We were much more than a coffee shop and did not fit the definition of a cafe.

Our clients will come in to taste our offerings and enjoy each other’s company. They will enjoy an atmosphere of style where old world brick meets stainless and marble.

After month’s of discussions, we decided that the best name for what we were focused on achieving was a “tasting pavilion”.

Our vision was pretty clear. As with our offerings, we view Crumbzz as much more than a product. We are totally focused on providing each one of our clients with an “experience”.

From our web site and blog, to  our pre-sales support… our packaging and our offerings, through our post-sales client services…  we wanted our Tasting Pavilion to not only compliment our mission but enhance it.

We were also focused on making sure our Crumbzz Enthusiast Gathering Place was comfortable and welcoming. A place where Crumbzz Enthusiasts could enjoy not only our offerings but each others company in an environment that was warm and welcoming.

Once we had our name secured, we moved on to location. To serve our typical client, we were looking for an artsy, hip location. Initial forays in Dallas’ included the typical artsy areas including: Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, Uptown, Downtown, Cedars, etc. We spent month’s researching each area but in the end, found each missing one or more key ingredient.

We than set our eyes on the Dallas suburbs. Unfortunately, like most of the country, many of the suburban towns we spoke to were solely focused on keeping their heads above water financially.

When you’re busy putting out fires on a daily basis, you tend to lose sight of your town’s long term vision. When that happens, progress in that area grinds to a halt.

And so, our search for the ideal location continued.

It was at that time that we met the City of Forney Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Kim Buttram. Kim had seen Crumbzz on a recent TV interview and had wondered why Crumbzz had not considered Forney for its Tasting Pavilion.

Forney is a small community 23 miles east of downtown Dallas. It’s claim to fame had been its once booming antique business corridor off highway 80.

As interest in antiques began to wane, so too had Forney’s downtown area. Led by Kim and the EDC, we soon learned  that the entire town, from Mayor and City Council to the Building and Zoning Departments were all intent on reversing that slide.

Most towns are focused on attracting new businesses. Some even have a vision with grand plans in place. Unfortunately, few go any further than the design and planning stage and their plans lie dormant in their planning departments… great ideas, gathering dust.

Forney is different. It understands that a town must have an identity before it can move forward and that identity starts with the heart of any town, its downtown area.

Forney’s attention to its plan even extends to its name. You see Forney may be small, but it is not a town. Forney, looking towards its future… is a city.

The whole city is intent on bringing life back to its downtown area. And the city wants that life to be uniquely Forney.

Forney is not interested in attracting chains and multi-site mega-stores to its downtown. There are plenty of those in its outlying areas. Instead it’s focused on encouraging small business’ to set up shop to provide its residents and the multitude of visitors it hopes to attract, with a unique shopping experience.

Typical of most small Texas towns (excuse me, cities), Forney has beautiful old buildings, sitting empty, just waiting to be brought back to life.

This appeals to our company focus on being green, and partnering with the local community. What better way to serve a local community than to resurrect an old existing building, help the town bring life back to its downtown area and partnering with local talent to make it all happen.

But vision is just part of the equation. Execution is even more important to assure success. And that’s where Forney set themselves apart from all other cities.

J Stephen

Next Month: It’s All In The Details…