Cathie Anderson: Catching up with some 2012 stories

Published: Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B

As we move into a new year, I'll be using several columns to check back in with some businesses and nonprofits I featured in 2012, a suggestion made by Sacramento State business professor Jai Joon Lee. In a gentle nod to a Sacramento native, the late newspaper columnist Herb Caen, I use the dot-dot-dot format that he made famous. … The inventor of the Rapid Ramen noodle bowl, Christopher Johnson, turned his garage into a fulfillment center a few weeks ago as thousands of orders flooded into www.rapidramen.com. Johnson talked with me in September about the microwaveable cooking dish and with KCRA in late November. The video report went viral, showing up on AOL, CNN, Yahoo News and other sites. "We were receiving orders online to the tune of four orders a minute," he told me. "It went absolutely berserk. We sold 2,000 units in three days. We have shipped to every state in the country." Johnson's deal with a local Walmart store is on hold because corporate Wal-Mart is working to expedite his product nationally. The orders and money were rolling in so quickly that Johnson didn't have time to cash checks from investors. … Consultant Susan Frazier is finishing up a 50-page plan for the Sacramento Region Community Foundation on how to increase local giving, and it includes ads in The Bee that will run on the first Sunday of each month. The January ad will introduce the campaign, and successive ads will highlight different categories of nonprofits. Also, expect to see new tools for donors at givelocalnow.org as the year progresses. … Lisandro and Karla Madrigal, the husband-and-wife owners of Chando's Tacos, expected that their new Power Inn restaurant might cannibalize sales from their Arden location, but both are thriving. "I think we're looking at about a 20 percent year-over-year growth at Arden," Lisandro Madrigal told me. "What ended up happening is that we were able to improve our work flow at Arden because there's less going on, so we could focus on improving service." Overall, the restaurateur expects 60 percent growth in revenue. The Power Inn eatery opened in June. … Paula Hunley purchased a commercial smoker and other new equipment for her Baguettes Deli in Elk Grove from the profits she's seen since acquiring it in May. It will be a while before she repays the money she borrowed from her retirement savings for the purchase. You can help by buying plenty of her new smoked tri-tip sandwiches with crispy onion straws, seasoned with the barbecue sauce and roasted garlic mayo made on site. She's also brining her own corned beef and pastrami. … Back in August, Elle Huftill-Balzer had just taken on the role of assistant manager at Feeding Crane Farms in North Natomas and she didn't think she could wear all the hats needed to run her own operation. This week, the novice farmer gave me an update: "I feel like I might be more ready to do my own thing in the future. I feel more prepared. The work with Feeding Crane has really helped me." … Speaking of Feeding Crane, you may recall that its parent company, Local Food Done Right, purchased the Steel Magnolia commercial kitchen in midtown Sacramento and renamed it Lulu's Kitchen. Well, Lulu's is gearing up for classes to be led by the culinary entrepreneurs who use the kitchen and by local restaurateurs, said Shannin Stein, general manager of Local Food Done Right. She also said the entrepreneurs in her kitchen are looking at combining their salsas, cupcakes and other locavore products to sell in a food box.

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