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  1. 4 food business start-up myths and how to avoid them

    4 Food Myths FB Ad Lineage

    If you’ve attended a food truck rally, farmers market or local food hall recently you’ll have noticed that small-scale food businesses are firing on all cylinders these days.  Customers are hungry for thought provoking and novel food concepts and savvy foodpreneurs are capitalizing on this trend.

    Maybe you’ve been doing some dream hatching of you own, imagining what it would be like to bring your own unique culinary concept to market and share your food passion with the world.

    There has never been a better time to start a food business than RIGHT NOW.

    If you’ve ever thought that “Hey I could do this….and probably better” but you haven’t tied on the apron and gotten started, what’s holding you back?

    Farm & Haus Savory Toast ChristineLet me guess?

    • You know you can make a damn tasty product, but you doubt your ability to put all the pieces of the business side together.
    • You love the idea of creating a truly authentic and unique culinary concept, but you hate the idea of having to be “salesy”.
    • You’ve got a foolproof concept in mind . . . however, you’re not sure how to market your product and get it in front of your customers or onto store shelves.

    Start-up food businesses are usually begun as a side-hustle, and since the hours outside the 9-to-5 are so limited there is not a SECOND to waste on activities that aren’t directly linked to profit.  But where to start?  The list of To Do’s seems endlessly long and many would be foodpreneurs get stuck in analysis paralysis.

    So….to help demystify the process of starting your food business I’m going to debunk a couple myths about the process and give you a roadmap toward a successful launch of you concept.

    We’ve all seen others do it successfully and with the right training I’m here to tell you that you can too.

    <<Click here to get my cheat sheet of 4 rookie food start up mistakes and how to avoid them>>

    Myth #1:  I need to make my product in a commercial kitchen or commissary kitchen. 

    While producing you food product through a commercial kitchen will probably become a necessity as your grow your business, thankfully for certain concepts it’s not absolutely mandatory at the get-go.

    In recent years many states have approved Cottage Food policies that enable applicable food start-ups to start producing their food products at home without needing to be in a licensed kitchen.

    These policies let foodreneurs get up and selling without many of the required permits, certifications and inspections associated with more established food businesses.

    Cottage laws vary from state to state, but there are some common restrictions worth mentioning.  First of all, approved food under the regulation are usually non-hazardous foods like baked goods, jams/jellies, granola, dry pasta, honey, etc.  Here is a list of some of the typical approved and prohibited cottage foods.

    Cottage Food Regulation Approved Foods

    David Crabill at Forrager.com has provided some dynamite resources for Cottage Food operations and if you think starting a home-based cottage food business is the path for you, check out his website.

    Myth #2:  I don’t need to work in a commercial kitchen or commissary kitchen. 

    This one goes hand in hand with Myth #1 and it’s because cottage food regulations have some significant drawbacks. Beyond restricting food type, cottage foods are generally approved for sale direct to consumer only and can’t be sold to grocery stores, restaurants or online.  Not being able to get your product on store shelves is reason enough for some folks to bypass operating under the cottage food regulations and sign up with a commercial kitchen instead.

    Plus look back at Myth #1, the list of approved foods allowed under the cottage food policies is pretty narrow and I bet your local farmers markets are full of foodprenuers already making and selling these food types. The little bit of extra effort to get licensed to use a commercial kitchen can pay dividends in freeing you up to pursue your culinary dreams without restriction.

    I haven’t even mentioned the gross sales cap on Cottage Food businesses. If you start your business from home and are met with success and growth right off the bat you could sail right past your state’s sales cap. Florida, for instance, has a gross sales cap of $15,000. Even as a hobbiest it’s easy to hit this cap since it’s based on gross sales, not net sales or profit. There are no caps for businesses working from commercial kitchens and for some food concepts it might just be the best place to start.

    <<In the bonus PDF – I’ll explain what licensing and permits you’ll need to get your concept legal and ready for your first sale.>>

    Myth #3: You’re happiest when you are cooking and starting a food business would be the perfect way to profit from your passion.

    I so wish this wasn’t a myth, but far too often the things that bring us joy quickly turned sour when they become the means to a financial end.

    Jessica, our chef-in-residence at East End, calls this the Food Network myth. Each day of your food business is like an episode of a highbrow cooking show. Everything neatly in its place, the fridge and cabinets perfectly stocked and all your ingredients pre-measured…..oh and all the dishes cleaned through the magic of television.

    The reality is that while most people enjoy making a Thanksgiving meal for their whole family to enjoy the thought of having to do it EVERY DAY is a scene from Groundhog day. As a food start-up if you don’t feel this monotony at some point in your early days you will be one of the exceptional few.

    Honestly, most of your time getting your culinary concept off the cutting boards will be spent sourcing ingredients, packaging, labeling, accounting, negotiating, cleaning….and more cleaning while the part you love, the making, gets relegated to a tiny 10% of your work week.

    Believe me friends, I take no pleasure in debunking this myth, but it is vital that you go into starting a food business with a bit of grit and fortitude.

    Now….it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it! Keep in mind, launching your culinary concept means you are piloting your own ship. Finding success under you own efforts is far more satisfying than doing so under someone else’s employ and direction.

    A food venture can be, and should be, deeply fulfilling and profitable, even fun, but it takes forethought and business acumen to run a successful food start-up. Knowing this and setting healthy expectations is vital. Taking time to do some foundational planning will put you miles ahead of others who start their concepts on a whim.

    Remember we’re here to help and in the 4 Rookie Mistakes PDF we talk specifically about when to, and how to, hire your first employee which will keep you focused on your strengths and let’s someone else pick up the rest.

    Myth #4: I’ll find a couple farmers markets to sell at and be off to the races

    Let me start by saying the resurgence of farmers markets in the last decade is proof-positive that consumers want local, fresh and artisan products over store bought commodities. This bodes well for aspiring foodprenuers for sure!

    Chances are good that attending your local farmers market is part of your inspiration to stake your claim in the food industry.

    The rub is that the explosive growth of farmers markets has been met with a panoply of new market ready food businesses and you’ll find most established markets at, or close to capacity.

    Point being, getting the green light to set up at your local farmers market might be more challenging than you anticipate. If there is an established vendor in your food category the chances of the market manager giving you a shot are next to nil.

    There is hope however and I’ve seen many upstart foodpreneurs break into markets I thought were closed up tighter than Fort Knox. Here is how they did it.

    1. Try to put a new spin on an existing category: Can you be “local”, “organic”, “hand-made”, “gluten-free”, etc. where the established brand is not. Sometimes the market manager just needs a valid argument for letting you in so as to not piss off their established vendor. Make it easy for them. Figure out just how different your concept really is from what they already have and pitch them.

    2.  Start by setting up at any place that will let you. Outside a popular coffee shop that doesn’t sell your type of product, at your local church or club, one off festivals and civic events. These pop-ups will help you hone your craft and build your audience. It also gives you time to get your visual merchandizing and branding down.

    3.  Be willing to drive out of the city and serve some of the outer lying or brand new markets that are eager to have new merchants join their ranks. In many cases you’ll be doing them a favor and in turn they’ll be willing to put in a good word testimonial for your when you try to break into a more established market in the city core.

    Think about getting into your first major farmers market like trying to get a date with someone you really admire. You’ve heard the term that in dating and marriage someone is usually a reacher and someone a settler. We can admit that as a start-up you are the reacher. So…the goal with your pop-ups is to build some stories of success, a track record of social media posts full of the smiling faces of happy customers and some testimonials from the business owners who testify that your presence at their shop or market brought in more business.

    Your goal in the first few months should be to close the “reacher/settler” gap as much as possible. As a market manager my ideal tenant has an existing customer base, even if it’s just a few hundred fans on social media and on their e-mail list. This gives me confidence that they will at least be bringing something to the picnic and not just sucking at the umbilical chord of our established customer base.

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    Last thing to mention about getting a farmers markets: Even if you are a cottage food business many markets will require that you be licensed and a carry insurance regardless of your business status. I break this down in the bonus materials so check that out if you want to keep the research road trip rolling.

    The goal of this and other posts is to help you sidestep the countless pitfalls that make starting a food business a disaster and instead lead you toward foodpreneur success.

    I’ve been working in this industry for more than a decade and I’ve seen MANY mistakes along the way. The bonus list of rookie mistakes I’ve created will serve like a food business success GPS system helping you avoid the pitfalls many others have fallen. Click here to get it now!

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  2. EEM in the News

    East End Merchants have been making a splash in the news and it has been quite a busy couple of months. From Orlando Weekly features, to Fox 35 news, to Bungalower they are really doing well!

    Emily Rankin Florida and Co.

    Emily from Local Roots | Florida & Co

    Emily Rankin’s serene exterior belies a steely will. It’s a will that’s transmuted her beliefs into tangible realities, in the process changing the life of a neighborhood and the plates of a region.

    For full article..http://www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando/fourteen-people-making-orlando-a-better-place/Content?oid=2561339&storyPage=11

    Domu Orlando Weekly Cover

    Domu

    Ramen! Ramen! Everywhere ramen! (And tacos.) But back to ramen – the city’s love affair with these noodly bowls has only deepened, and a break-up isn’t very likely. In my estimation, the trend hasn’t even peaked, and that’s hardly a surprise. Ramen is cheap, for one thing, and it’s wholly comforting. Plus it elicits a mild snobbery – “ramen connoisseurship,” as Jonathan Gold calls it – particularly among millennials, many of whom gladly queue up for hours for a chance to dribble tonkotsu down their bearded yaps……

    For full article..http://www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando/were-all-quite-thankful-for-east-end-markets-new-ramen-ya-domu/Content?oid=2561376

    Gideon's Bakeshop at Fox 35

    Gideon’s Bakehouse

    Orlando’s latest claim to foodie fame comes courtesy of an artisan cookie shop that has enjoyed a cult following for nearly seven years.Tourism website TravelPulse posted a list of the country’s must-have delicacies titled “Dishes You Have To Shove In Your Gaping Maw Before You Die.” The title of Earth’s Best Cookies went to Orlando-based Gideon’s Bakehouse, known for its selection of decadent desserts that sell out almost as soon as they are stocked…..

    For full article.. http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2017/02/02/orlando-sweet-shop-wins-title-of-earth-s-best.html

    Freehand Goods East End Market

    Freehand Goods

    Freehand Goods, is the latest pop-up in East End Market. Freehand Goods is a Florida-centric retail outfit run by Jacob Zepf, the man behind Outfitters Co in Winter Park, which we’ve written about previously, HERE. You may recognize their name from our Orlando Bungalower Instagram account, as we’ve posted a few photos of their mobile trailer shop that they park around town……

    For full article.. http://bungalower.com/2017/02/01/gentlemans-goodies-garage-freehand-goods-pop-upped-east-end-market/

  3. Video: Food & Wine Unite Event

    Chef Kevin Fonzo and Chef Jamie McFadden with top Orlando chefs and food & beverage professionals hosted an amazing event called Food and Wine Unite to recognize the staff and volunteers of the LGBT Center of Central Florida for their continued dedication after the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. Please enjoy the video below of this wonderful event by Dan Beckmann.

  4. Tenant Comings and Goings

    As we move into Summer we have some comings and goings at the market worth mentioning.

    For starters we are excited to be welcoming Farm-Haus into the space vacated by Bookmark It.  We started talking with Brittany and Patrick way back in August of 2014 about their farm-fresh dinner delivery service.  They have been serving up delicious meals for home delivery and pick-up at the market ever since and are now preparing to launch their brick-and-mortar stall in the market hall.  We are really excited to see what this team comes up with and for customers to be able to get the full Farm-Haus experience in person.

    For all you Bookmark It fans, don’t fret.  Kim has a selection of her books up at the Local Roots store at the front of the market and you can also check up their new shop across the street in the Lovely Boutique with their grand opening coming June 18th 5-6pm.  Bookmark It still plans on bringing some top notch authors through East End and hosting their annual Locally Grown Words book fair and other local literary events in the courtyard and APEX, so thankfully it’s not goodbye forever.

    We have some Summer pop-ups coming to the Fatto in Casa space beginning this weekend Cassandra and Georgie of Gezellig Cookies and Flour Life Bakery.  This dynamic dessert duo will be serving up Dutch stroopwafels, French macarons and much more starting June 15th through mid July.  Cassandra has been a regular a the market, baking away in our commissary kitchen filling the air with wafting caramel and baking waffle dough.  It was hard to resist on the days that she was baking but now that she’ll be here more permanently a stoopwafel and flat white coffee may just become a new daily routine.

    We are desperately going to miss Fatto in Casa’s pear torte and her amazing mocha cake, but with her heart and family in Italy we’re looking forward to what inspiration she brings back from her furlough with her family in Italy.  Elisa, Fatto’s owner, has been a friend of the market long before it was even being considered and her warm spirit and hospitality have been a mainstay since the market’s inception.  Her husband Ron Scarpa was the contractor who brought new life to this old building and without the two of them East End would be a shadow of what it is today.  Thank you to you both and “via securi” Elisa.

    We’ve got another biz that’s flown the coop.  Cathy Sands has outgrown us.  Demand for her design aesthetic and talents have required more staff and space.  You can visit her in her new and ‘bigger’ space / showroom right across East End avenue in the Corrine Drive Marketplace, next to Eric Horner Interiors.  Congrats Cathy on the growth of your business and thanks for spending 2 years with us.  We look forward to hearing more about the next chapter in your entrepreneurial ventures.

    Stepping into Cathy’s former office will be Steven Miller Photography.  If you’ve been around Audubon Park in recent years you’ve undoubtedly seen this talented young photographer snapping memorable images of the local happenings.  More often than not, if you see an amazing photo of a local event chances are good Steven was behind the camera.  We look forward to becoming Steven’s home base as he continues to grow his business and bring attention to the wonderful sights of Central Florida.

    Last but certainly not least – Txokos, the Basque themed restaurant started by James Beard nominated chef Henry Salgado, of Spanish River Grille fame, has closed its doors for good.  This was a deeply personal project for the Salgados, inspired by their journey through the secretive gastronomic societies of Spain’s Basque region. They sold the concept in September of last year to raise capital for a potential relocation of their Spanish River Concept in New Smyrna and despite the new owners having the very gifted Gina Bugayong, formerly of FRESH, at the helm the restaurant failed to keep the same spark diners experienced while the Salgados were in the house.  The current owners of Txokos are in the process of selling the business and working with East End to find a concept to bring a new culinary concept to the restaurant space at the market.  We’ll keep you up to speed as things develop and look forward to debuting a new concept in late Summer / Early Fall.