Op-Ed: Local small business has support of extended family Special

Posted Mar 19, 2015 by Jonathan Farrell
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 23 million small businesses in America account for 54 percent of all U.S. sales. Furthermore, notes the SMBA, the small business sector is growing rapidly.
Coffee & Coco has been operating since December of 2014  on a busy corner of West Napa Street in Son...
Coffee & Coco has been operating since December of 2014, on a busy corner of West Napa Street in Sonoma. Owners, Rocio Fuentes and Dave Martinez are confident they can make it a success.
Courtesy of Coffee & Coco
While corporate America has been "downsizing", the rate of small business "start-ups" has grown, says U.S. SBA and the rate for small business failures has declined. That is welcome news to small business owners everywhere. And, in a small community like Northern California's wine growing region of Sonoma, any connection made to stir up business is vital to success.
Rocio Fuentes of Coffee & Coco on the corner of 2nd and West Napa Streets is very pleased to be serving local food items to local customers. "Having a stand like this is something I have always wanted to do," she said. Her father-in-law Paul Martinez and brother-in-law are happy to provide their support daily. In fact it is her brother-in-law Jeff Martinez who helped her get started in December of 2014 by sharing some space at his Union 76 station on that busy corner.
"I know we are facing some competition," said Fuentes, "Especially with Dutch Brothers and Cafe Scooteria nearby, but I think all will work out fine." Fuentes said she really did her homework before stepping out into this venture.
Father-in-law Paul Martinez stops by almost everyday to help Rocio Fuentes and son Dave Martinez. Mo...
Father-in-law Paul Martinez stops by almost everyday to help Rocio Fuentes and son Dave Martinez. Mostly he is there to show support for their family business. He hopes it will be a success.
Fuentes has confidence in her vendors, especially Temple Coffee of Sacramento. It is the only coffee she serves. "I wanted to work with local (Bay Area) vendors and franchises," she said, "Because I believe in small business."
Jeremiah Frazier of Temple Coffee was pleased to hear that, when this reporter called. "I remember training Rocio," he said. "And I was impressed with her willingness to work with us and wanted very much to offer the community a quality product." Frazier, in charge of retail customer support and wholesale distribution, was happy to make the commute to help Coffee & Coco get set up.
"We here at Temple operate at the top 2 percent of coffee companies in the world." In terms of quality and commitment to customers Temple Coffee is in a tip-top tier. Temple has won awards and has consistently received high marks of excellence for over 10 years.
Yet, even with those accolades, for Frazier what is most important are the relationship he helps build between Fuentes, Martinez and their customers. Temple looks very closely at who it takes on as a client/partner. Each and every vendor as well as each and every producer/grower of coffee that Temple takes on, must meet a high standard. And that includes environmental as well.
He was not surprised when it was mentioned that Rocio's venture is helped along by family members. "Anytime enterprise is commenced by family, that is very helpful." In fact, "It goes back centuries, really it does, he said, with the apprenticeships and trades passed on from generation to generation."
"Even your major corporations, some of them well-known, got their start as a family business or with the help of family," he added.
One of the key elements Frazier and Temple looks for when considering a potential client/vendor is passion. "Attitude is perhaps more important than just aptitude," he said. "Sure, a person can make a good cup of coffee or make a sandwich. But is it their passion?" "This is what we look for," he said.
And in someone like Rocio, her husband Dave Martinez and their extended family the potential for consistency and success is there. "I know it will take some time for us to build our customer-base. But I really do believe in what I am doing, said Fuentes and want very much to offer the best locally made items around."
For example, she and husband Dave are making a healthy breakfast burrito. "More vegetables like zucchini, bell pepper, onion and only a little bit of fresh baked ham. No heavy sausage or bacon." "We are also looking to feature a signature pastry; something people can only get here with us," she said.
 More vegetables like zucchini  bell pepper  onion and only a little bit of fresh baked ham. No heav...
"More vegetables like zucchini, bell pepper, onion and only a little bit of fresh baked ham. No heavy sausage or bacon," said Coffee & Coco owner Rocio Fuentes. The breakfast burrito comes with a fresh green chili sauce. She and husband Dave Martinez are eager to provide fresh locally made food items that are quick-on-the-go, delicious and nutritious.
Yet as she works to establish her business it has not been all smooth sailing. Getting the initial permit was one hurdle. "I had small table and a couple of chairs covered by a small canopy, she said. But I found out after someone filed a complaint, that I need a permit and it must be approved before a committee." Once approved the cost of that permit, just to have a couple of chairs to sit down will be about $500.00.
Checking in with the City of Sonoma Planning Dept. "Yes, that is so, said Rob Gjestland, senior planner. Each case and situation is a bit different." He was acquainted with Fuente's application which was processed by planner Wendy Atkins. "All businesses go through the same process of an application and then a review," he said. "We must take into account what type of business, what type of zoning it will be in," etc. Part of that process is having discussion and a public hearing. It all seems simple but as Fuentes noted, "it all takes time and effort and some money. Yet, she said, as I see it if we don't make our best effort at this venture then how will we know. If you have a dream you have to give it your best effort."
The details will follow. But for now, Fuentes is hoping a local vendor will be able and happy to offer something unique just for Coffee & Coco. There are lots of locally owned bakeries and eateries around. She is eager to help promote a local fresh made item and while helping that little business she is establishing her own.
"It really is all about building community within the community," noted Frazier. And, crucial to Temple's focus is the sense of community. He sees that as vital to any small business. He explained, "that is why we chose the name 'Temple' it is central a place where one goes to each day to socialize, gather and to strengthen those ties." Frazier believes and knows Rocio and her family will be a success because they already have that one important element in a local business...connection to family.
For more information about Coffee & Coco, visit the page on Facebook or call 707-363-9721