Break Fast & Launch, the nation’s first culinary accelerator program, is currently accepting applications for their next cohort consisting of beverage startups and entrepreneurs in San Antonio.
The program was one of 50 national recipients of the first Growth Accelerator Fund Competition from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Under the umbrella of Café Commerce, Break Fast & Launch is designed to help those in the culinary field gain a better understanding of the ins and outs of running a successful business. Providing a curriculum based on mentorship, business preparation, and fraternal support, the goal is to increase the culinary footprint in San Antonio with specific programming focused on sustainability.
The accelerator works closely with three, distinct cohorts including restaurants and food trucks, beverage makers and sellers, and food tech and product creators. The first group of restaurants and food trucks owners recently graduated from the program and had the opportunity to serve their dishes at Break Fast & Launch’s Dinner Day at the Southwest School of Art.
As the first of it’s kind, Break Fast & Launch ensures everyone in the program walks away with as much knowledge as possible about the business of culinary. As one of the very few serving up Indian/Latin American fusion cuisine, Bombay Salsa Co.’s Hitish Nathani understands that crafting amazing dishes doesn’t necessarily translate to a successful business.
“I can run a business effectively, as an owner and operator, but I can’t do that forever,” says Nathani. “I need to know how to run a real business.”
Nathani was one of five who signed on to be a part of the first cohort, along with Maxine Dickinson of 2The Max Catering, Jesse Torres of Mezcalería Mixtli, Silvia Alcaraz and Lupito Rivero of Cocina Heritage and Cariño Cortez of the Mi Tierra Cortez family.
“Break Fast & Launch helped us to see other people’s perspective on things … hearing about their experiences first hand," Torres said. “San Antonio is still very young, it’s not like other cities that are more established. We’re still growing a lot compared to other cities with other bigger culinary scenes. It’s a great time to be doing this in San Antonio.”
Sisters Alcaraz and Rivero entered the program with their brick and mortar restaurant Cocina Heritage, which they have since decided to close.
“We always think, if Break Fast & Launch was in place before we opened the restaurant, we wouldn’t have opened the restaurant, because the amount of mentorship and coaching we received is priceless,” says Alcaraz. Despite closing the restaurant, the duo continue to offer Cocina Heritage catering, serve long-table dinners at Dorćol Distilling Company every fourth Thursday of the month and offer their food via Storific.
As the kitchen doors close, the beverage bar opens and anyone who has, or is considering a tea, coffee, juice, beer, or alcohol business is welcome to gain an education for all areas of business; accounting, marketing, real estate and business plan creation.
“As the culinary industry booms with innovative new products, one area we have seen that has especially stood out is beverages,” states Break Fast & Launch Director Ryan Salts. “New craft beers come out every month, cold press and raw juices are becoming more popular and coffee shops are not limited to just Starbucks. Opportunity is abound, we just want to make sure that the products delivered from these ideas are sustainably set for growth.”
Like their first cohort members, the beverage group will have the benefit of working alongside those specific to their industry and mentors with incredible experience who are more than willing to lend their business minds to further the growth of local beverage businesses.
“San Antonio’s beverage scene has grown tremendously," Salts said, citing Brown Coffee, Local Coffee, Oleos Perk, Revolucion Coffee + Juice, One Lucky Duck, Alamo Brewery, Branchlike Brewery, Freetail Brewery, Dorćol Distillery.
"(These are) all great products that are home-grown and should be celebrated. There is still opportunity, though. San Antonio is large enough for further growth and with the right plan, new companies could be on their way for regional and national distribution.”
For those interested in applying to the Break Fast & Launch beverage cohort, visit www.breakfastlaunch.com by April 22nd. Classes begin in early May.
*Featured/top image: Maxine Dickinson of 2The Max Catering. Photo by Jonathan Guajardo.