Linn-Mar graduate Brittany Hannah, who formally ran Bistro On the River in downtown Cedar Rapids, says she has been hoping to relocate her business to Marion for some time. Next week, she will.
"There's a lot of growth in the Marion area and not a lot of restaurants, so this is a good move," said the owner and executive chef of Bistro 3 Nineteen, which will formally open at 796 11th St. on Aug. 23. "Everyone has been very welcoming, from people just walking by to the Marion business community."
Serving up what Ms. Hannah called New American food, the restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as Saturday brunch.
Ms. Hannah said the new eatery's menu features everything from soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch to burgers, braised short ribs, risottos and steaks at dinner. Breakfast selections will include scrambled eggs, grilled cheese and blueberry French toast. Bistro 3 Nineteen's line-up also includes a range of appetizers and a full bar.
As far as the space itself, "it's an interesting combination of industrial, with exposed piping and concrete floors, but also got a soft seating area and a wall of booths," she said, adding that a glass front offers not only natural light, but windows that can be opened during nice weather, giving the space an indoor patio feel.
Although the restaurant's website still says "Coming Soon. Stay Tuned," Ms. Hannah has been updating fans of her culinary stylings on the restaurant'sFacebook page.
Michelle Galvin, owner of the Velvet Coat in Iowa City, said boutiques like hers offer a curated, personalized experience department stores and e-tailers can't match.
They may not have the army of buyers enjoyed by large department store chains or the endless variety of Amazon, but small boutique owners in the Corridor say they have a secret weapon that keeps their fashion-conscious clientele coming back: a carefully curated, regionally specific selection of quality items chosen with their customers in mind.
"Any fashion business has to stay in tune to what trends are and how they translate to your market. That underlines everything," said Michelle Galvin, owner of the upscale Velvet Coat boutique at 105 E. College St. in Iowa City. Her ability to carefully edit and tailor the shop's wares to a busy, discerning clientele has kept it in business since 2000.
"It's kind of like the farmers market," Ms. Galvin said. "You can buy food anywhere else, but people like to feel that connection and feel the stories behind the things they're buying. And from a time standpoint, people don't have time to try on lots of things and go all over. We offer alterations and can put together entire looks, so there is that kind of curation and attention you don't find at big stores."
With nearly 4,000 store closings so far this year, according to a Business Insider analysis, these are perilous times for apparel retailers, with e-merchants taking a larger and larger bite out of consumers' clothing dollars.
But while the Younkers and Sears of the world absorb blow after blow, small, independent boutiques are thriving by finding ways to stay on trend and making smart buying decisions. According to a June study by the Valassis marketing and media group, 60 percent of consumers still prefer to shop for clothing at brick-and-mortar shops, mainly because they can touch, feel and see items and compare selections between stores.
"In comparison to the larger chain, I do believe smaller boutiques have their advantages," said Kandis Weiland, owner of Industry at 4396 Mt. Vernon Road SE in Cedar Rapids. "We carry a smaller inventory so you're not going to see it on everyone in town ... there is no middleman. I go to market looking specifically for the customers that shop at Industry."
Read the rest of the story in this week's print or digital edition of the CBJ.
SBA approves $6.1 M in small business loans in July
The U.S. Small Business Administration backed 29 loans for $6.1 million to Iowa businesses from participating lenders in July, including five in the Corridor worth $697,000.
Local SBA loan guarantees approved in July included:
$100,000 to Optimal Health Chiropractic & Wellness LLC in North Liberty
$420,000 to Softronics Limited Inc., an audio and video equipment manufacturer in Marion
$111,111 to Sharpness Inc., a beauty salon in Palo
$66,000 to BDA LLC for new C-stores in Kalona and Washington
All of the Corridor businesses receiving loans in July were new businesses. They reported creating 11 jobs in all. Statewide, companies reported creating 61 new jobs and retaining 90 jobs as a result of
The online service that matches customers with local professionals gave the Hawkeye State a C+ in this year's ranking of all 50 states, down 14 spots over last year when it ranked No. 14 and received an A.
"As a comparison, Iowa scored higher than Missouri (C-), but lower than Nebraska (B+)," the study's authors said in a press release.
The state received its best mark of A for labor, employment and firing, but flunked on training and networking programs. Overall grades were also based on factors like licensing requirements, tax regulations, and labor and hiring regulations. More than 7,500 small business owners were surveyed in what Thumbtack claims is the largest continuous study of small business perceptions of local government policy in the U.S.
"Tax burden is prohibitive to starting a new business," said one survey taker, a web developer from Urbandale. "Our tax burden has stopped our own R&D." Another respondent from Mount Vernon praised local government as "pro small business," but lamented the difficulty in "getting locals to spend money locally."
States receiving A+s included South Dakota, Tennessee, Alaska, Michigan and Utah. Iowa's neighbor, Illinois, was the only state given an F.
"Small business entrepreneurs are creating sustainable jobs, and policymakers must continue to empower this segment of the workforce," said Lucas Puente, lead economist at Thumbtack, in a release. "It is critical for local, state and federal governments to support small business owners as they adapt to rapid change and innovation in today's economy."
Consulting: Remember, it's all about the customer
In this week's consulting spotlight, Lynn Manternach of MindFire Communications Inc. reminds businesses that not only are customers always right, but that they also care about the experience:
It's time to start thinking about next year's marketing budget. How are you going to allocate your resources to make a measurable difference?
Here are some powerful statistics for your consideration: By the year 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator, according to "Customers 2020: A Progress Report." Meanwhile, research by Bain & Company found that 80 percent of companies believe their customer experience is great, while only 8 percent of their customers agree with them.
A well-executed customer experience strategy can help increase customer satisfaction, reduce customer churn and boost your revenue. So how do you get started? Here are some tips for getting your customer experience strategy right.
Understand your audience and create buyer personas. This is all about the customer, so that's the best place to start. Who are they? What motivates them? What worries them? Profile the types of customers your team deals with every day. Take the time to think deeply about who they are, what it is about your product or service that attracts them, and how your company can make life easier or better for them.
Use marketing analytics reports on Google Analytics, AdWords, Facebook, etc. to get data about your target groups, including demographics, interests and purchase behavior. Dig into your customer relationship management system to more specifically define current customers in terms of demographics, purchase behaviors and communication preferences.
Look for insights regarding the emotional or psychological elements that impact your organization's customer experience.
Use the information you have gathered to develop buyer personas that represent real people, and to make sure you're focusing on a representative cross-section of customers. Then, use the emotional and psychological insights you've discovered to make sure you're connecting with them in the ways that matter most.
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BizMix: King's Materials, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance and Marion Chamber of Commerce, 5-7 p.m., 650 12th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. BizMix brings together area professionals for an evening of casual networking over complimentary hors d'oeuvres and cocktails and is hosted by a different member business each month. Free.
Coralville Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen, 2824 Commerce Drive, Coralville. Roundtables are social lunches over the noon hour. All are invited to network and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. Free for members. Call the chamber at (319) 337-9637 if interested and not a member.
Iowa City Roundtable, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, noon-1 p.m., Mosley's Barbeque, 525 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City. Roundtables are social lunches over the noon hour. All are invited to network and keep up-to-date with chamber and community events. Free for members. Call the chamber at (319) 337-9637 if interested and not a member.
Ribbon Cutting: 365 Nutrition, by Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, 4 p.m., 350 Beaver Kreek Center, North Liberty. Help welcome 365 Nutrition to the North Liberty business community. Free. For more information, visit
Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28
Authorities in La Porte City say they have a "significant" development in the search for Jake Wilson.
Police Chief Brecher and Sheriff Anthony Thompson will hold a news conference at 4 p.m. Sixteen-year-old Wilson, who has autism, has been missing since April 7 when he left his La Porte City home for a walk at night. The news conference will be streamed on cbs2iowa.com and on Facebook.
As students at Iowa City West High School get ready to start a new year, many are excited for more space on campus.
School officials hosted a community open house on Wednesday so residents, families and students could get a first look at the completed renovations in the first phase of improvements on campus. This three-part renovation project is part of a much larger 10-year plan for major changes across the Iowa City Community School District. Funded in part through SAVE, the 1 cent sales tax, the $12 million dollar renovation project offers more space for students to work and play, including a new air-conditioned weight room, dance room and practice gym. "That's a huge piece for our student athletes," said ICCSD Superintendent Stephen Murley. "Frequently they've had to go off campus. It makes it harder for kids to participate in extracurriculars. [It] certainly puts an extra strain on the families." Renovations also include an upgrade to the cafeteria on campus. The second phase of renovations at West High will begin in November, which will include implementing air conditioning to classrooms that still need it.
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast
Another round of rain is on the way today. It will be partly cloudy, warm and muggy with temperatures near 80. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible this afternoon, mainly after 3 p.m. Some scattered showers and storms will continue through the night but will wind down before daybreak Friday.
High pressure will move in Friday and it will be dry through the weekend. There will be a mix of sun and clouds with temperatures in the low to mid-80s Friday through Sunday. Then, the next storm system moves in early next week - a strong storm will move in on Monday and could bring another round of heavy rain.