Made in Colorado (Winter 2023): Sasquatch Cookies Deliver Homemade Treats With BigFoot

There’s a common misconception that the United States doesn’t manufacture much anymore. In reality, the country continues to out-manufacture China on a per capita basis, and domestic growth outpaced the global average for the first time in years in late 2022.

Colorado is a case in point. Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis shows that employment in Colorado’s manufacturing sector peaked in 1998 at 192,200 workers. That plummeted to 122,200 employees in 2010, but the state’s manufacturing workforce has steadily grown to surpass 150,000 as of late 2023.

With these dynamics front and center, this year’s “Made in Colorado” profiles illuminate 10 of the state’s pioneering manufacturers, makers of whiskey, satellites and just about everything in between. Today, we’re highlighting Autonomous Tent Co, the world’s first movable five-star hotel.

READ: Inside the Colorado Semiconductor Industry Renaissance — CHIPS Act Sparks Manufacturing Revival


Sasquatch Cookies

Food & Beverage

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Website: www.sasquatchcookies.com

Brooke Orist started Sasquatch Cookies in 2017 with eight recipes and a simple premise: freshly baked cookies delivered to your door by someone in a Bigfoot costume.

Making a hard pivot from her previous career in the nonprofit world, she baked cookies in a commissary kitchen before opening her first location in downtown Colorado Springs in 2020, followed by two more in 2022, including the walk-up “Baby Sasquatch” at Red Leg Brewing Company.

Orist was drawn to Sasquatch as a brand as she sought a nomadic theme and says the company leaves “good footprints” by donating 10 percent of profits to the Springs Rescue Mission. A local seamstress makes the costume bodies.

The company took off in a big way in 2020. “We went from very small, like doing 20 orders a night, to doing like 500 orders a day,” Orist says. “I still see it growing, which is really encouraging.”

The menu has included more than 100 varieties over the years, with a core catalog of 11 cookies and a pair of rotating recipes every week. “Our most popular is the s’mores one,” Orist says of the latter. “Everybody loves the s’mores.”

Orders range from a half-dozen to 10,000 cookies for Amazon, as the employee count ranges from 30 to 70, depending on the season. Delivery by Sasquatch, which was initially the only way to get the cookies, is now a $25 upcharge and about 30 percent of the business.

Looking back, Orist says the operation is surpassing her expectations. “I am astounded,” she says. “I knew I didn’t want this to be like a hobby business, I didn’t want it to be a side hustle. I knew I wanted it to become my career, to make it into something.

“It’s amazing how it all worked out,” she adds. “We have three stores now. When I originally made a plan for what I hoped to see, I said I hoped to have six stores eventually.”

And while she might look to Castle Rock or Fountain for the next location, Colorado Springs has proven to be a fertile market. “Down here, everyone has an ‘I believe in Sasquatch’ sticker on their car,” she laughs.

 

Denver-based writer Eric Peterson is the author of Frommer’s Colorado, Frommer’s Montana & Wyoming, Frommer’s Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks and the Ramble series of guidebooks, featuring first-person travelogues covering everything from atomic landmarks in New Mexico to celebrity gone wrong in Hollywood. Peterson has also recently written about backpacking in Yosemite, cross-country skiing in Yellowstone and downhill skiing in Colorado for such publications as Denver’s Westword and The New York Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected].

Bitewell’s ‘Food as Medicine’ Initiative is Empowering Employee Health Across Colorado

As the global workforce becomes more health-conscious, one solution gaining traction in the corporate realm is nutrition counseling, and a young Colorado company has developed a program businesses can add to their employee-benefits packages. 

Bitewell is a food-as-medicine marketplace that makes it easier to make healthy choices at mealtime. The company, which calls itself a “digital food farmacy,” works with employers to provide food health benefits for employees, reducing insurance premiums and improving health for users.  

READ: Empowering Colorado Employers — 4 Strategies to Optimize Health Care Benefits

“If you work with a progressive physician who writes a food prescription for you to address hypertension or diabetes, we can get that food to you,” bitewell CEO Samantha Citro Alexander said. “We have flipped the concept of pharmacy and filled it with food instead of pharmaceuticals.” 

Bitewell created a proprietary metric called the FoodHealth Score, which ranges from 0 to 10 and uses a simple gray, red, yellow and green color system. People who use the farmacy’s services will only see foods scored 6 or higher selected specifically for them.  

“When you get access through your health plan, we’ll pull information to create your health profile,” Alexander said. “The score generates when we combine the food profile and your profile. We’re only showing you food that’s going to help you achieve your goals and meet your needs.” 

Through bitewell, people shop for foods to prevent or treat diseases, and the company incentivizes members to consume food as medicine by rewarding healthy behavior change. The company fulfills and delivers food-as-medicine prescriptions and counsels patients on the use of food as medicine in addition to partnering with physicians on food-as-medicine treatments. 

Many consumers are aware of the link between fresh, healthier food and improved well-being. Of 2,054 U.S. adults surveyed for Deloitte’s Fresh Food as Medicine for the Heartburn of High Prices report, 84% consider health and wellness a key factor when buying fresh food, and about 75% said they’re seeking more personalized nutrition.  

READ: Plant-based Protein is Taking Root in Colorado’s Food Economy

The Cleveland Clinic found that 80% of chronic disease is driven by diet and lifestyle, so helping people make better food choices benefits not only employees but also companies in the form of fewer workdays missed because of health issues. According to bitewell, Americans spend $3.75 trillion annually in preventable food-related diseases. 

Bitewell recently raised $4 million to help it expand its executive team, scale its sales division, fund research and build out its technology and infrastructure. The investment was led by Lake Nona Sports & Health Tech Fund and Refinery Ventures, with participation from Harvest Ridge Capital, Mudita Venture Partners and others.  

“Bitewell fits perfectly within our thesis of investing in companies bettering human experiences, and we see their contribution through the lens of nutrition and food accessibility,” said Justin Driscoll, an associate at Lake Nona Sports & Health. “By pushing employers to offer food benefits that provide employees with healthier eating options and give them greater control, transparency and the capacity to monitor their own health, the company is well-positioned to redefine how the world thinks about health benefits.” 

Tim Schigel, managing partner of Refinery Ventures, said the timing is perfect for service bitewell offers because employers understand the importance of having healthy employees.  

“Healthy nutrition is the next step for companies looking to improve the lives of their staff,” he said.  

Fabrice Braunrot, co-founder of Harvest Ridge Capital, said bitewell is solving a big problem, and the total addressable market is huge.  

“We look to fund companies we think can grow and/or go public and have an exit,” Braunrot said. “One of the big financial drivers here is that there is so much money to be saved in unnecessary health care spending.” 

The fledgling company’s customers already have seen the benefits bitewell offers their employees. For example, the XFL football minor league provides the bitewell food farmacy to its athletes to help them achieve peak performance on and off the field, said Kerry Gordon, XFL’s vice president of health and safety.  

“We were proud to pilot bitewell’s system to present our players with food options customized to their needs to foster dynamic and positive health outcomes,” Gordon said.  

The company plans to move its business into 14,000 square feet at The Hub North in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood where about 35% of the space will be set aside for events and content creation, allowing bitewell to host conferences, webinars and networking events.  

In the remaining space, the company will build a wellness lab for employee preventative health care, a fully functional kitchen and mini food farmacies equipped with the company’s FoodHealth Score technology in every room. 

“It’s imperative that our space embodies our mission and ethos,” Alexander said. “Our goal is to transform health care from a sick care system to a well-care system with a focus on food as medicine.”  

 

Margaret JacksonMargaret Jackson is an award-winning journalist who spent nearly 25 years in the newspaper industry, including seven years as a business reporter for The Denver Post covering residential and commercial real estate. She can be reached at [email protected].

7 Must-Have Features for Your Restaurant Mobile App

It’s no secret that the restaurant market is oversaturated. Opening a restaurant means you’ll be competing with dozens of other restaurants in the area. To avoid shutting down and ensure your continuous success, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.

One such way is to provide customers with the convenience of browsing your menu, reserving a table, placing orders and paying for them online directly on their smartphone using a branded mobile app. Let’s take a look at the main features your restaurant mobile app should contain.

READ: Surviving Food Inflation — How Colorado Restaurants Adapt to Rising Costs and Labor Challenges

7 Features Your Restaurant App Will Benefit from

1. Online ordering

It’s not enough to create a restaurant app just for customers to check out the menu. Enable them to place orders online for delivery or pickup to unlock a new source of income and sell more of your food every day than you could possibly sell just at the restaurant.

An online ordering menu is user-friendly, easy to update on the spot and can be customized with choices and add-ons that will increase the average order value and tempt customers to order more every time.

2. Order scheduling and fulfillment options

Order flexibility is an important thing for customers. They want to be able to place orders in advance and choose how the order will get delivered. This also works to your advantage.

Enable customers to place orders even outside your opening hours with scheduled orders. They will have peace of mind knowing their food will get delivered at the right time during a busy day and you’ll make money while you sleep. Allow foodies to choose between classic delivery and no-contact delivery, or pickup at the counter and curbside pickup.

3. Table reservations

Another app feature restaurant customers are keen on is the ability to book a table directly in the app, without having to call the restaurant. That way, you get instant confirmation and the guarantee that the date, time and number of people have been accurately registered.

You can also improve upon this feature by adding order ahead for table reservations. That way, customers can also choose what they want to eat and even pre-pay for their food when booking a table.

READ: Grand Junction’s Diverse Culinary Tapestry — Immigrant-Owned Markets and Ethnic Eateries Transforming Colorado’s Food Scene

4. Promotions

This is a no-brainer. In order to attract new customers and convince them to download your app, as well as to improve customer retention and motivate customers to reorder, restaurant promotions are key.

A first-order discount exclusive to the app is an excellent way to increase app downloads. But if you want customers to keep using the app and not just delete it after the first order, you need to draw their attention with regular promos and special offers. That can be a special fixed price for a meal bundle, free delivery on certain days, or a 10% discount on the entire menu.

5. Online payments

A must-have restaurant app feature, online payments allow customers to pay for their food before it gets delivered, which is convenient if they select no-contact delivery or if they simply don’t have cash. Give customers multiple options to pay for their food online, from credit cards to payment methods like Apple Pay, PayPal or Google Pay.

6. Automatically fill in delivery information 

If there’s one thing customers hate when ordering food online is filling in their contact and delivery information. This is why they should only do that once, the first time they open your restaurant app. Enable customers to check a box so that the app can remember their information for future orders. That way, the next time they crave your food, all they need to do is choose the dishes and order.

7. Contact details

Another restaurant app feature that may seem obvious but that you can’t fail to include is the ability to contact the restaurant if there are any issues with the order or if you have a question you’d like someone’s help with. This also ties in with the importance of listening to and implementing customer feedback for a successful business. Maybe the order button isn’t working or there’s a vital section missing from the ordering flow.

Enable customers to tell you about it so you can fix it quickly by providing a contact phone number and email address in the app.

The bottom line

Having a restaurant mobile app will help you stand out in the crowd of similar restaurants in your area. It will also increase customer convenience and help foster loyalty that will supercharge your restaurant’s long-term growth.

 

Laura Voicu headshotLaura is a content marketing specialist at Oracle GloriaFood. She puts together guides and resources that restaurateurs can use to grow and promote their businesses online and offline.

Careit Brings New Food Rescue App to Denver to Combat Hunger With Surplus Food Donations

Careit, a Los Angeles-based free food donation and rescue app that connects businesses to nonprofits to combat hunger, is officially available in Denver. The app provides a free online marketplace that makes it easy for Denver restaurants, caterers, food distributors, corporations, grocery stores and more to donate surplus food and goods directly to local nonprofits in the area. Available nonprofits claim the food, arrange for transport and track the donation’s details and weight, all from within the Careit app. 

Denver Food Waste and Careit’s Solution to Help

On a local level, more than four pounds of food per person on average is wasted at home every week in Denver, and 76 percent of that could have been eaten. A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) study revealed up to 7.1 million additional meals annually could be donated in Denver beyond current donations. With Careit’s food rescue app, more than 180,000 pounds of surplus food has been donated in Denver to date.

READ: Rising Food Costs Create Unique Challenges for Hunger-Focused Agencies

Currently, 95 businesses and nonprofits are using Careit in Colorado, most centralized in the Denver metropolitan area. Among the first to join Careit in the Denver area include We Don’t Waste, Sprouts, Denver Food RescueAutoDeskSupperBell, Rebel Bread, Sullivan Scrap Kitchen many more.

“Launching Careit in Denver has been amazing because the city has a strong reputation and commitment to reducing waste and helping those in need in their community,” Alyson Schill, Careit CEO, said. “We invite more businesses, restaurants, nonprofits, grocery stores and more to join us as we continue to serve an expanding population of seniors, families and students experiencing hunger.

“Careit has been an integral addition to our food recovery program,” Sam Talarczyk, We Don’t Waste Director of Programs & Operations, said. “The technology has allowed us to expand our partnerships with local businesses, engage with more volunteers, and, most importantly, rescue more food.”

How to Share it with Careit

Careit uses smart algorithms and Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to empower local nonprofits and communities with equal access to the surplus of resources. The Careit app can be downloaded on all iOS and Android devices. The process to start donating surplus food is simple:

  1. Post a Donation: Businesses, nonprofits, and institutions can post surplus edible food and essential goods for pick up or drop off.
  2. Match to a Nonprofit: Local hunger-relief agencies browse (and reserve) posted donations. Donors can also directly assign a post to their preferred charity.
  3. Arrange Transportation: Nonprofits assign their own trained staff or volunteers to schedule a pickup or drop off with the donor.
  4. Manage Data: Careit provides businesses, nonprofits and governments a robust platform for data and impact tracking – used for taxes, fundraising and quality control.

The Careit Difference

Unlike other food donation technology, Careit is not proprietary for any nonprofit and does not require donors to sign exclusivity contracts. The app is free to use for all U.S.-based food donors, corporations, municipalities and nonprofits to give and receive food. App users are only charged subscription fees to access advanced features such as data reporting to help with tax deductions and record-keeping for food rescues and donations.

Careit enables corporations to track their food donation efforts for new food waste policy compliance, committed environmental social good (ESG) campaign efforts and tax-deductible charitable contribution tracking. Businesses save time and staff costs of record-keeping for donations with Careit’s revolutionary platform for data and impact tracking. 

Careit knows how important it is to train individual behavior and create social change. That’s why the company offers in-person and virtual workshops to train new users on how to safely donate food and use its app.

 

Founded in 2021, Careit is a free app to match commercial food donors to the country’s most inclusive network of nonprofits. Businesses sign up to simplify food donations, track their impact and track tax-deductible contributions. Careit has assisted more than 1,600 edible food donors to connect with over 770 local nonprofit food recovery organizations and service providers through its platform. Eight million pounds of food from 25,000 donations have been recorded on Careit. To learn more, visit careit.com.

Boulder Restaurant, “The Sink” Celebrates 100 Years of Great Food and Celebrity Guests

Boulder’s oldest restaurant, The Sink, turns 100 this year, and the current owners plan to fill 2023 with celebrations and rekindled memories of the storied institution.

Originally a Sigma Nu fraternity house, the dining establishment got its start as Somer’s Sunken Gardens in 1923. Over the years, the enduring hangout on the Hill became known for serving 3.2 beers and burgers; it hosted celebrities and U.S. presidents throughout the 2000s, and it employed one of Hollywood’s biggest stars when he was a CU student.

READ: Celebrating Black Business Owners in Boulder: Leontyne Ashmore’s Barefoot-inspired Shoes

The space has changed ownership and changed names over the century. At some point, it was dubbed “The Sink” because of a fountain in the restaurant, and the nickname stuck, even as it changed hands.

From 1974 to 1989, it operated as Herbie’s Deli, until 1989 when deli owner Herbie Kauvar’s sons Rick and Jim Kauvar rebooted it as The Sink. Current owners Mark and Chris Heinritz, along with their brother, James, bought the iconic restaurant in 1993. They were joined in ownership by Tell Jones in 2016.

Over the years, guests have included Barack Obama, Guy Fieri, Anthony Bourdain, Madeleine Albright and Dan Ackroyd. Then there was former CU student Robert Redford, a former CU student and perhaps The Sink’s most famous employee.

A detailed timeline and history of the restaurant along with planned festivities to mark the 100th anniversary can be viewed at thesink.com.

“We’re eager to honor the amazing history of this restaurant,” co-owner Mark Heinritz said. “The Sink truly belongs to everyone who’s passed through here. There are always new buildings, new streetscapes, but The Sink has stayed consistent, always here welcoming people with good food and a great atmosphere.”

Colorado Female Business Owners Have Stories to Tell

Last month during Women’s History Month, we celebrated the contributions of women throughout history and today. As a female business owner myself, I empathize and understand the struggles of women-led businesses that continue to be hit hard by the impact of the pandemic. That’s why, I encourage my fellow Coloradans to please consider supporting our women-led local businesses all year long.

It’s important we all work together to understand the challenges women face in the business world on every level. I’ve certainly experienced my own obstacles starting our family business.

In 2020, my husband Dannie and I founded our business, Daddy’s Homemade Syrup. Dannie wanted our kids to eat healthier, especially during breakfast, so he started experimenting with syrups, mixing, matching, and calculating all-natural ingredients and flavors. When our daughter, a picky eater, approved of the taste, we knew we were onto something.

But then COVID-19 hit, and all the events I had planned to participate in to sell our products were canceled. That’s when I decided to create a website and turn to social media so people could buy our syrup online.

Two years later, my business has taken off online with the help of tools like Instagram Reels that allow us to connect with customers while showing new products.

Throughout the pandemic, women have shown resilience and shifted their businesses online. In fact, the recent Global State of Small Business report by Meta (Facebook) found that nearly half of U.S. women-led small business owners report making at least 25% of their sales digitally, compared to 39% of small businesses led by men. I am proud to be a part of that statistic.

Women have led the charge to establish their businesses in the new digital marketplace. But despite our ingenuity, the pandemic has still taken a toll on the bottom line of many women-owned businesses.

Let’s show extra support spreading the word about our favorite women-owned businesses and shopping at women-owned stores, whether online or in person!

 

Amber Burr if the founder of Daddy’s Homemade Syrup. Read more on Facebook, at:  @daddyshomemadesyrups, Daddy’s Homemade Syrup.