First vomFASS USA Franchise Sets a High Bar

anita

By Toni Jakovec

Swiss born, Anita Von Ballmoos opened the very first vomFASS franchise in Maplewood, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri in 2009.  As she celebrates her 5th anniversary this year, Anita took a break from her busy store to talk with us. 

Toni Jakovec:  Good morning, Anita.  You were the first person to immigrate to the U.S. to open the very first vomFASS franchise.  Congratulations! You have become quite the example.

Anita Von Ballmoos: Thank you very much.

TJ:  Do you have any advice for new citizens and new franchisees?

AVB:  My best advice to new citizens is – be patient!  (laughing) There are a lot of hurtles to clear and red tape to cut through.  For example, the first thing I had to do when I came to this country was to open a bank account.  I needed a bank account to get my visa.  I needed my visa to get my Social Security number.  Except, as it turns out, you need a Social Security number to get a bank account.  Everything was turning in circles!  It took a lot of patience and it was nerve-racking, but finally everything worked out.

TJ: When did you open vomFASS’ first franchise?

AVB: Just five years ago.

TJ:  How many employees did you start off with?

AVB:  I was full time, plus I hired a full time manager.  This is important because, since I am not an American citizen, I cannot have a liquor license, therefore my manager has the license.  Then I also hired 2 part-time employees.

TJ:  Now it is five years later, how many employees do you have?

AVB:  I still work quite a bit and have a full time manager.  I also have six part-time employees.

TJ:  Is it as much fun running the store, Anita, now that it has been 5 years?

AVB:  I think the fun really starts now!  The first few years were fairly difficult.  For example, since I am not an American citizen, I could not apply for a small business loan.  I had to personally finance everything.  But now, I have a good salary.  We have a lot of repeat customers and the store is doing really well.  So now I’m having a lot of fun.

TJ:  Do you feel that you have become part of the Maplewood/St. Louis community?

AVB:  Absolutely. Especially here in Maplewood. This community really opened their arms for the first vomFASS store. They were very excited to have something so unique in their community. Maplewood City Hall was very accommodating to me. For example, here in Missouri you cannot give out samples of alcohol above 15% by volume.  So the wonderful Maplewood City Hall officials actually changed the law regarding this just for me and my vomFASS store! Now people can come into my shop and sample our wonderful spirits.

TJ:  Are you involved with a lot of community events?

AVB:  Yes, and there are a lot of events here.  There is the “Taste of Maplewood”; three times a year there is a wonderful art festival, and the Schlafly Brewery has a lot of affairs that we participate in.  All of these are great for keeping the vomFASS name out there for people to remember.  Also we donate tasting parties to local fund-raising events.  Usually these promotions bring in new customers, who then tell their friends, who tell their friends, on and on.  It’s a very effective form of advertising.

TJ:  I agree.  Any other good promotional ideas?

AVB:  We’re lucky because we have a fairly large store.  So we offer wine dinners.  We close the shop up for a couple of hours, put tables on the sales floor and have local chefs come in and prepare a five course menu paired with our wonderful wines.

TJ:  Do you have anything special planned to celebrate your store’s 5th anniversary?

AVB:  Oh yes.  This November 9th we will be marking the 5th anniversary with a gala wine tasting party.  There will be exquisite finger foods and an elaborate wine tasting featuring over 40 international wines.

TJ:  Sounds terrific, Anita.  I was also wondering if you have any amusing stories from your 5 years in business.

AVB:  Well, no question, it is my English that causes the most amusement around here. Two wonderful ladies came in one day and wanted to buy a bottle of whiskey for their mother’s coffin.  I thought they said it was for their mother’s “coughing” and so I thought they wanted the whiskey to put in her cough syrup.  I said, “this will certainly make your mother sleep well.”  And they laughed and said, “Yes indeed!”  Eventually, we all understood each other, and we all smiled.

TJ:  That is a charming story.  It sounds like you have a cheerful and happy store, just like its owner.

AVB:  Thank you.  It is a wonderful place to work, I think.

TJ:  Have you noticed many changes in vomFASS since you opened their first franchise?

AVB:  Yes, there have been a lot of changes over these 5 years.  Everything has become better organized and there are so many more people involved.  I have seen tremendous growth and I am excited to be a part of it.

TJ:  What has the growth rate been for your store over these first 5 years?

AVB:  It’s really been amazing.  The first 3 years we grew at 12% per year.  The fourth and fifth years have leveled off somewhat, and but are still at 5% growth.

TJ:  Those are wonderful numbers.  Also you were named vomFASS’ 2013 “Ambassador of the Year.”

AVB:  Yes, in fact, I have the plaque hanging in the store.  We also were named Maplewood’s 2013 “Business of the Year.”  And we were named Feast Magazine’s 2014 “Best Specialty Food Store” in St.Louis.

TJ:  Congratulations Anita, and I know you will continue to be successful.  How about sharing a recipe with us?

AVB:  I’d love to.

Read more about Anita

Marinated Turkey Breasts

turkey

Ingredients:

2 turkey breasts, boneless and skinless
¼ cup vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T. soy sauce
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1 T. brown sugar
¼ cup vomFASS Spiced Date Balsam
vomFASS Pepper

Directions:

1. Combine vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil, soy sauce, wine, ginger, and brown sugar for the marinade.
2. Prick turkey breasts in several places with a fork and place in a large sealed plastic bag with the marinade. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least several hours.
3. Remove turkey from the marinade. Tie with twine so that thinner, pointed end of the breast is tucked under. Place on baking sheet and brush with vomFASS Spiced Date Balsam and sprinkle with vomFASS Pepper.
4. Bake in 375°F  oven, turning once and brushing again with vinegar until inside temperature reads 165°F .
5. Remove from oven, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve, drizzling with any leftover juices.

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Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.