With Dan Smith officially on-board as the City’s new Economic Development Director, we now have someone dedicated to working those contacts 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year — because that’s what it takes to recruit new businesses. As we’ve heard from Don Schjeldahl (Austin Company, Industrial site selection) and Joe Fackel (Buxton Company, retail site selection) recruiting new businesses takes tons of preparation, strategic thinking, fierce persistence and lucky breaks. I give Dan a lot of credit because economic development is today’s version of the old traveling salesman who has wears out a lot shoe leather knocking on doors with no guarantees of a sale. But after his first week I can already tell we made a great choice. Dan gets it. He knows what it takes and he understands that at the end of the day his success can be defined with one number — how many new jobs he brings to Kent.
New jobs is actually a part of every city employees job so Dan is not out there by himself. From the paramedic to the city planner and everyone in between, Dan’s got a lot of help from co-workers who are all working to make Kent a great place to live, work and play — which is something every new business looks for and frankly expects in today’s competitive global environment. When a business can choose to be anywhere in the world, site decisions increasingly come down to the quality of life available in the community and quality of life is exactly what city employees produce so everything city employees do everyday helps Dan improve his numbers.
Dan and I were talking this week about recruitment. He’s putting marketing packages together and setting up meetings with retailers at the national retail conference held in May out in Las Vegas. He’s checking-in with existing businesses and cold calling new ones. He’s also working on creating a new web presence for Kent. All this in just his first week.
I told Dan that a couple of years ago I had a chance to go inside the University of Tennessee football program’s inner sanctum. Besides having amazing facilities, they had a really cool recruiting room. All over the walls in this room were 3×5 cards listing players names by position. The names near the top were the recruits they want to land but in case those don’t pan out they have other names right beneath them. The story was that their hated rival, University of Florida, used high powered telescopes to look through the windows to steal their recruits so Tennessee installed special windows and blinds to prevent anyone from seeing in. Trust me, they take this stuff seriously in the SEC — I laughed at the story but no one else in the room was laughing.
Anyways, the point of this story is to say that I told Dan that we need to start our own business recruitment room. I’ve listed a few of my favorite stores and restaurants on the blog before so I thought I’d share a few others that I saw recently that sounded like some possible good fits for Kent.
We certainly have our fair share of fast food in Kent but given the sizeable student body that tends to eat it, I suspect our market has more room to grow. So if it’s going to grow I hope we can bring in some slightly different types for our slightly different city. Here’s a couple that caught my eye and will show up on our wall:
New York’s Zen Burger aims to revolutionize the fast food world with natural, wholesome vegetarian foods that have the look, feel, texture and taste of meats without the negative effects on health and the environment. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant specializes in meatless comfort foods that mimic those sold in traditional fast-food environments, such as the ZenSausage breakfast sandwich, ZenBeef burgers, crispy ZenChicken sandwich, ZenTuna sandwich, ZenHotDog, ZenChicken tenders, ZenShrimp and French fries.
The midtown Manhattan eatery, which just opened a few weeks ago, even recreates the ambience—if you can call it that—of the big fast-food chains, with bright lighting and a 1970s colour scheme heavy on the oranges and greens. Also available at Zen Burger are organic soups and chili, organic salads, non-dairy ice cream, organic teas and coffees, and natural sodas, as well as kids’ meals complete with tiny toy. Pricing for a standard meal is about USD 7.
Zen Burger was founded by James Tu, owner of Zen Palate restaurants, and reportedly the plan is to take the chain nationwide, with the next restaurant slated to open in Hollywood in the middle of this year, according to Midtown Lunch. While vegetarians make up a still-small but rapidly growing part of the U.S. population, “flexitarians”—or those who eat a vegetarian diet some of the time, but not always—are a much larger group, and Zen Burger’s real target, Tu told TheStreet.com. “The key is the taste,” Tu said. “Ideally, I don’t want people to know what they are eating is vegetarian.”
Appealing to serious and sometime vegetarians alike, it’s hard to imagine anything but a warm reception to this concept around the globe. One to get in on early?
People today crave fresh tastes, quick service and a welcoming friendly atmosphere where they can relax for hours or eat and run. And that’s precisely what McAlister’s Deli delivers, with a special touch that’s uniquely their own. You’ll see it in their menu, in their service and in their faces. And it will change the way you do deli.
As soon as you enter, you’ll be greeted by our massive chalkboard menu filled with over 100 different items; sandwiches, spuds, salads, soups and sweets. The only thing missing is food that’s fried or greasy — everything at McAlister’s is made exactly the way you like it. Just don’t forget to add a tall glass of McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea to your order. You can start sipping on that while you relax in our cozy dining area. And there’s no need to get up when your order is ready, our servers will bring it straight to your table, as well as any other little extras you may need. It’s all part of the McAlister’s touch.
KnowFat LifeStyle Grill
KnowFat! LifeStyle Grill is what you want—a restaurant that offers a better way to enjoy the food you love. Our food tastes incredible and is prepared so that it’s healthier than the usual alternatives. Knowledge is power and we want you to know what goes into your body. Nutritional information for each menu item – including calories, fat grams, carbohydrate grams, and protein grams – is accurate, accessible and clearly listed on the menu and on your receipt. Pretty cool, right? But here’s the kicker, we’re more than just a restaurant! Our in-house nutrition center stocks a carefully edited selection of products to help you live a balanced lifestyle, not just when eating in the store, but all day long. So, maybe the better question is, why not KnowFat!?
We’re committed to providing our guests with a one-of-a kind experience.
Our mission: KnowFat! Lifestyle Grille promises to provide great tasting, nutritionally packed food and products to help you look good, feel good, and achieve optimal physical and mental performance.
KnowFat! aims to pioneer the phrase “lifestyle grille”. A lifestyle grille is a place where you can come in, eat at a restaurant, and then buy products for the rest of your healthy lifestyle. We are squarely on-trend and poised to become the leader in the new healthy fast-casual category.
KnowFat! concentrates on mainstream food by offering up better-for-you menu items like chicken meatball wraps, honey mustard turkey tips, super lean cheeseburgers with low-fat cheese, and sides like colorful broccoli and our proprietary “AirFries™.”
Our customers don’t just want to eat well while they’re in the restaurant; they want to buy products that support an overall healthy lifestyle. Each KnowFat! combines a quick-serve restaurant with a convenience-style retail store that carries the best health-oriented nutrition products on the market.
There is nothing like this concept on the market today. KnowFat! Lifestyle Grille is the only concept of its kind- and we’re ready to roll.