Biz Buzz, Aug. 5, 2012

After retiring from a 30-year career in accounting last year, Terry Piland decided to look for a new adventure. Given that financial background of her father and the management experience of her mother, Joya, and the fact that she has spent most of her own working life in the restaurant industry, daughter Lacie encouraged her parents to consider owning a restaurant franchise.

A little Internet research led them to Zoup! Fresh Soup Co.

“We’ve had family in town recently and wished we had a place to go to get really good soup, and there’s just not any place like that in Grand Junction,” Terry Piland said.

Soon, there will be.

The Pilands this fall will open Zoup! in the Chinle Plaza, 644 North Ave., Suite 1, in the location formerly occupied by Gamerz Planet. It will be the first Zoup! location west of the Continental Divide.

Zoup! offers hundreds of soups with 12 rotating daily varieties. The company emphasizes a selection that is healthy and caters to a variety of diets, including low-fat, dairy-free and gluten-free. Each bowl of soup comes with a hunk of freshly baked bread.

And while its emphasis is on food customers eat with a spoon, it also offers a variety of sandwiches and salads, as well as homemade cookies.

Prices range from $5 to $12, Joya said. Soup samples are free.

“We want you to fall in love with that bowl of soup and come back,” Joya Piland said of the reason for free samples.

Terry Piland said the family decided to lease space at Seventh Street and North Avenue rather than the heavily commercial west end of town because they anticipate catering business lunches and wanted to be centrally located.

Splish Splash Car Wash has been open in Grand Junction less than a year, and already company President Brett Meinberg has learned a lesson.

The mud in western Colorado is more prevalent and more stubborn than many other places.

Customers told Meinberg as much before Splish Splash opened in January at 2475 U.S. Highway 6&50.

And yet, Meinberg said, “We were confident we could get the mud off with the initial pumps.” After the first week, though, it was clear that the car wash’s four 20-horsepower pumps weren’t getting the job done. That’s why, at the end of July, Splish Splash installed two 40-horsepower pumps to double the muscle of its so-called “Mud Blaster” device, which expels roughly 400 gallons of recycled water a minute.

“We’re in search of super-muddy cars to try out our new invention on,” Meinberg said.

Splish Splash also recently installed 13 awnings over its free vacuum stations to provide shade to customers. Together, the two improvements represented a $50,000 investment, Meinberg said.

■ After 14 years with Watson Orchards, Anita Hix split off and moved into her own place at 625 37 1/4 Road, an old packing shed that has sat empty for 25 years. And with it came her own name: Anita’s Pantry and Produce.

Hix sells peaches and other produce and makes her own jams, jellies and syrups. The expanded location, which opened in May, offers ample room to load semi tractor-trailers daily and features a larger cooler than Hix’s previous location.

Hix also allows backyard farmers to sell their squash, green beans and other vegetables or trade them, dollar-for-dollar, with items they may want from her market.

“We sell for a lot of local farmers who don’t have their own stands or own ability to sell,” she said.

Anita’s Pantry and Produce is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week until Halloween.

Jesse Nelson is proof that refusing to give up is more than a cliche.

He got a job at Black Jack Pizza at 1059 North Ave. as a delivery driver about eight years ago and worked his way up to manager. He was laid off in 2008 when the economy tanked, then was asked to come back two years later as a shift manager. His brother loaned him money for a down payment to become a part owner last year.

This spring, the co-owner and man who laid Nelson off, Louis Brindisi, sold his share of the store to Nelson, making the Grand Valley native the sole proprietor of the only Black Jack on the Western Slope.

Nelson helped complete a makeover of the restaurant at the beginning of the year, trying to make it more than a delivery and carry-out spot by adding tables, a big-screen television and pinball machines. He’s now contemplating expansion, with an eye toward the next-door space, which is empty.

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