Local businesses speak about participating in competition

A version of this article was first published on Record-Bee.

LAKE COUNTY— The $10,000 first place winner of the 1Team 1Dream competition’s new category this year for startup businesses Rock and Rolled Ice Cream, owned by 19-year-old Baylee Ann Grove is having a grand opening of her first brick and mortar ice cream shop located in Hidden Valley Saturday from 11:30 to 9 p.m. and there will be music, raffles, and of course, rolled ice cream.

1st Place Winner in the Startup Business Category, Baylee Grove with major sponsors Rita Schmid and Roxana Melgarejo of R&R Team

Grove began her business in April of this year operating at farmers markets as well as other local events. Grove is using her funds to further her business, hoping to eventually franchise the store. Grove said, “I want to thank the whole community for asking me where I’m any day, I wouldn’t be here without you.”

The 1Team1Dream non-profit organization held its Third Annual Hands Up Lake County Competition, raising the cash prizes from $50,000 to $100,000 and also creating a new category for startup businesses. In total, 11 small local businesses were awarded cash prizes with first place going to Peace and Plenty Farms, second place to Angela’s Anytime Rides and Grillagan’s Island placing third.

Peace and Plenty Farm was awarded first place taking home $25,000 for their four-season farm and onsite farm stand. Owners Melinda Price and Simon Avery started the farm in 2017 focusing on saffron and lavender using regenerative practices. The business grew as they added all season vegetables and flowers, as well as opening the farm stand.

This past year the farm was featured in Sunset Magazine and a PBS special called Garden Fit with another upcoming feature on PBS’s show America’s Heartland. Price shared “It’s wonderful how supportive Lake County is of our farm. We found saffron as our niche and then the second niche being the farm stand staying open all year.” Currently the farm stand is open five days a week and seven in the summer. Peace and Plenty is also hosting a Winter Fair event on Sunday November 27 at 10 a.m. where guests are invited to come to the farm and join in on some holiday fun, pick saffron flowers, and pose for holiday photos in their barn styled for Winter Wonderland. With their winnings the farm plans on investing in equipment to help efficiency and to allow them to expand in the market garden. They also plan on offering more high-end varietals and making the farm stand more robust. Price noted, “This is helping us re-evaluate our next moves here and actually getting the funds to do so.”

Second place and $20,000 was awarded to Angela’s Anytime Rides, a taxi service that serves a majority of the county. Owner Angela Hughes and Co-Owner Rissa Souza began the company in June 2019 after seeing the immediate need for a taxi and delivery service and have built their business to employ 12 independently contracted drivers operating both a day and night shift. Souza shared, “We would like to thank everyone for using us and helping us to get to where we are, especially our day one customers. We try and take care of our community and during the pandemic they really got us through.” With their winnings the company has purchased a mini-van to allow them to service larger groups and they also plan on expanding services to Middletown.

Grillagan’s Island Restaurant won third place and was awarded $15,000 plus an additional $1,000 for also winning in the Fan Favorite category. Owner Nicole Gentry shared “We got fan favorite, which was chosen by the people. That’s really big for us, that’s people choosing us, that means people are recognizing us.” Gentry and her husband Nick opened the restaurant in February of last year and had participated in last year’s Hands Up competition, making it to the finals but they did not place. He was then hoping to earn funds to open a food truck. Fast forward to now, as the brick-and-mortar restaurant celebrates its ninth month in operation. The owners are currently hiring and hope to use this award to find adequate staff and pay them a living wage, which will allow for the restaurant to expand out to more events and possibly a second location on the southern shore.

Upper Lake Grocery placed fourth and received $10,000. Owner Ben Guenther and wife Katie DeVries opened the store two years ago, purchasing the Hi-Way Grocery business from the previous owners who were in operation for 40 years. Guenther plans to use this award to open a second location at Blue Lakes, taking over the abandoned convenience store and remodeling it to resemble a rustic barn. Guenther stated “I commend Olga and Maryanne for this competition. I felt it was very helpful and is something I want to sponsor next year. It’s a great thing for the community.”

In fifth place was Land Escape being awarded $5,000. Owned by Curtis Cook, Land Escape is a Landscaping service that has been in business for almost a year and a half. Cook had a successful practice in Sonoma County, but after moving his family to Lake realized the need for Landscapers. Currently he has over 200 hours of maintenance per month and continues to grow hoping to be the county’s number one landscaping service. Cook explained “We truly believe Lake County is on an upswing. We are happy to be here, this is a good community… we can really dig our feet into this and create some more jobs.” Cook further shared “This competition, you can’t measure how important it is. The experience was priceless.”

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