The Kenya Connection

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By Toni Jakovec

George and Jenny Mayaka have joined the vomFASS franchise family, bringing professional acumen and international style to their soon-to-open store in Maple Grove, Minnesota. They took time out of their very busy schedules to give us a brief interview.

Toni Jakovec: Hello George and Jenny. It’s nice to talk to you again. Why don’t you begin by telling us how you heard about vomFASS?

George Mayaka: I would be happy to. I travel a great deal for work. Last May I was waiting for a flight and checking out the magazines for some inflight reading. I happened upon a copy of “Entrepreneur” magazine, which I bought. As I read the magazine, there was a story about vomFASS and the idea of “tasting from the cask” which really resonated with me. For one thing, it was a fresh, new idea. Also, it reminded me of my youth in Kenya. My family would go to the market and buy fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. I remember this one store owned by an elderly lady, and I would go around and taste the grapes and fruits and candies. vomFASS reminded me of those times. When I returned after my business trip, I told my wife Jenny about vomFASS and how I wanted to open a store. She was skeptical, but I was persistent. I contacted Alayne (Gardner-Carimi), Franchise Sales Manager, and expressed my enthusiasm about opening my own store. She suggested we attend the upcoming “Experience Day” in Madison. I talked to Jenny, who was keeping a surprisingly open mind on the situation (giggles from Jenny in the background), and we drove to Madison.

It was love at first sight when we got to the Madison store. Even the story in “Entrepreneur” magazine that originally intrigued me, did not do the experience justice. When we returned home it was all about checking our area out and narrowing down the right location to open a store. One thing led to another, and here we are today.

TJ: Now that’s a good story. What location did you decide upon?

GM: We chose a lifestyle center just northwest of the Twin Cities called Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove. Arbor Lakes is an outdoor shopping mall, which is the largest in the Midwest measuring just about 400,000 sq.ft. of shopping space.

TJ: Was that the only location you considered?

GM: Because there is already a vomFASS presence in the Twin Cities, there was some limitation to our location selection. Oddly enough, we think that limitation was the best thing that could have happened since it caused us to consider locations that would make a big, big impact. Not only would our location impact the Twin Cities, but also generate a shopping corridor from 50 to 75 miles away. We’re very excited about that.

TJ: When do you anticipate opening your beautiful new store?

GM: We are hoping to open in mid-June.

TJ: Before you went to the Madison “Experience Day”, I get the impression that you had not completely committed to the idea of opening a store. What was it about that experience that was the tipping point for you both?

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Jenny Mayaka: The people that work there are just awesome. It was such a family environment. The biggest thing for me was just the experience of going in there and getting into the customer service aspect of the business. Then, of course, it was all about the tastings. That was it for me. And then I came back a few months later for a training day session and it was a blast. I had never been in retail in my life and I really loved it!

TJ: It seems like this whole idea came about quite quickly for you two. How long did it take from decision to a mid-June opening?

GM: Let’s see….from the day that I read the magazine to our mid-June opening comes to just about one year.

TJ: I understand that you are quite a traveler George. Jenny, are you too?

JM: When I get to tag along!

GM: I do travel a lot, but it is mostly work related.

TJ: Speaking of work, what are your professions?

JM: I’m a veterinarian. I have spent my entire professional life crawling around the floor with cats and dogs. So this is quite a change for me.

TJ: Oh, that’s terrific. What a switch! George, what is your profession?

GM: I have a business background and work in manufacturing. I am currently in sales for a company that makes equipment and tools for the canning industry.

TJ: So how do you plan to divide up your busy lives to run your wonderful new store?

JM: We’re going to begin with me running the store and George keeping his current position. Once things are well established, I may go back to veterinary medicine. George’s goal is to eventually run the store full time.

TJ: Now, let’s talk food! I hear one of your favorites is the Maletti. In fact, Jenny confided that your family drizzles Maletti on everything.

GM: We can sell Maletti! Of particular interest to us was our kids and extended family and whether they would like these products. We recently visited my brother and took the Forest Raspberry Balsamic Starwith us to make a salad. My nephew, now there was a test. This is a kid who, if he sees something green, he goes green. He actually ate two servings of the salad that day!

TJ: Perhaps you have a recipe you’d like to share?

GM: As a matter of fact, we were at the Mall of America store the other day and bought some Forest Raspberry Balsamic Star and have a wonderful salad recipe.

TJ: Excellent. It looks wonderful.

 

Pear Blush Salad

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Ingredients (Serves 6):

2 T. vomFASS Forest Raspberry Balsamic Star
2 T. vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil
vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt & vomFASS Pepper
8 oz. baby spinach, washed & dried
2 pears (Comice are best here), peeled, cored & diced
½ cup toasted nuts (pecans are good), chopped
½ cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
½ cup dried cranberries

Preparation:

In a small bowl combine vomFASS Forest Raspberry Balsamic Star, vomFASS Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Whisk to combine. Season with vomFASS Pyramid Sea Salt & vomFASS Pepper to taste. Chill until ready to assemble salad.

In a large bowl combine spinach, pear chunks, chopped nuts, crumbled Gorgonzola and dried cranberries; toss together.

Pour prepared vinaigrette over ingredients and toss gently to coat evenly and serve.

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.