Friday, February 15, 2008

Family's restaurant gripes become a business plan

An idea for a family-friendly café—think of a Panera Bread Co. crossed with a Playland-outfitted McDonald’s—drew enough votes from a website for entrepreneurs to bag $40,000 in start-up funding.

Alissa and Noah DeRouchie hatched the notion for their Sprout Soup concept after wincing through innumerable meals with their two toddlers. The taller of the four family members knew what they prized in the less-than-perfect options they’d prioritize when the whole household dined out: Healthful food, preferably in the form of sandwiches, served up in a comfortable, attractive setting at a reasonable price. But they wanted the place to entertain the kids while they ate, which means shifting the playgrounds typical of fast-food joints to the center rather than the back of the dining room. And the activities would extend beyond a run through the ball crawl, to events like sing-alongs or story readings.

The DeRouchies entered their idea in a contest run by the accounting software supplier Intuit. It was chosen from among 1,500 submissions for the prize of $50,000 in seed money—still not enough to get the operation off the ground, but still a major infusion of capital. According to news reports, the DeRouchies will supplement their prize with $60,000 from a credit line and $30,000 of cash. The funds were apparently generated in part from the couple’s website,, a virtual store featuring baby carriers.

According to their website, the DeRouchies plan to open a retail operation this spring, presumably in their hometown of Columbus, Ohio. They’ll start to remodel it into a restaurant by offering juice and coffee, and then presumably progress step by step into a full-fledged café.

1 comment:

  1. Great going! I just love it when people turn their grips into plan and then do something about it.

    Now that they're established, they might want to continue in doing that. For example: yearly, write a list of all the grips you have about your business, your competitors, etc. and then turn it into something positive in your updated plan.