BRUNSWICK — Like a good omen, the seeds planted in the raised beds at New Beet Market on Burbank Avenue sprouted just in time for the cafe’s grand opening March 21.
In the early hours of the morning, though, a spring snowstorm brought about 4 inches of snow to Brunswick, burying the young plants.
It can be just as hard to start a new business from the ground up.
But New Beet co-founders Jamie Pacheco and Nate Wildes believe they have a winning business plan. And, despite the snow, the couple had a good first day: about 30 customers came out to the new Brunswick Landing restaurant for its grand opening Monday.
New Beet is in a renovated building off Burbank Avenue that, until recently, was Wild Oats’ Brunswick Landing location. When that venture closed, the couple saw an opportunity.
Aside from believing there is a market for a cafe on the former base, Wildes and Pacheco knew two organizations across the parking lot, Seeds of Independence, a social services nonprofit, and the Harpswell Coastal Academy, were interested in partnering with a start-up business.
The couple established New Beet as a low-profit limited liability corporation, or L3C, meaning that part of its profits will go to Seeds of Independence and HCA.
On the other end of the partnership, New Beet will source food from HCA’s community farm, and the kids in Seeds’ youth programs will tend New Beet’s on-site garden. Additionally, the cafe will offer student internships, with first priority for full-time jobs afterwards.
“This is a business model built for this exact place,” Wildes said.
The connections between business, school and nonprofit were on display Monday.
The cafe’s head chef, Mike Allen, formerly of Royal River Grill House in Yarmouth, has a past connection to Seeds of Independence.
Allen went on a service trip to the Dominican Republic with Tom Wright, who co-founded Seeds, on a program that was later folded into Seeds of Independence.
Allen’s daughter, Haley, now attends an after-school program at Seeds. On Monday, a school snow day, she was volunteering at the register at New Beet.
Grand-opening customers were treated to free coffee and the cafe’s signature “New Beet chips” – deep-fried, shaved beets coated in spices.
Wildes said their next step will be to expand the cafe’s retail market, so Landing residents or commuters can pick up groceries, beer, or wine on their way home.
HCA Head of School John D’Anieri said partnering with “mission-driven businesses” is in his charter school’s “DNA.”
“In fact,” he added, “partnering with revenue-generating enterprises … (may help) the long-term sustainability of public charter schools.”
He cited a dedicated market for his students’ produce, and work experience with food preparation and customer services, as benefits of the partnership.
D’Anieri also added that he likes the food at New Beet, especially the whitefish sandwich.