Jim Pashovich of Grove City had operated a small food cart in the ’80s and ’90s, but the industry became too unpredictable and he could not see any opportunities for growth. He went into real estate, but eventually found himself lured back by the excitement and versatility of mobile food.
Pashovich liked that trucks are more weather-resistant, allowing their proprietors to continue to serve hungry consumers into the winter. Many carts must close down during the colder months.
In late 2010, he became excited about the local renaissance that food carts and trucks were experiencing. He and a partner began scouting vehicles and together were able to transform an old delivery truck into what would become their full-service mobile food business, Pitabilities. He heard about the Economic and Development Institute’s Food Fort and knew it was the right partner for his new business.
“I wanted to enter the mobile food business with the professional support that the Food Fort offers,” he says. “I loved the concept of a hub of services and support for mobile food guys like me. The Food Fort has been there for us, helping us in every aspect.”
By joining the Food Fort, Pashovich and his team have been able to receive technical assistance and support from ECDI’s Director of Food Safety and Food Services, Bob Kramer. Kramer, who brings to the Food Fort more than 30 years of experience with Columbus Public Health, is able to help food entrepreneurs navigate licensure and food safety issues.
Furthermore, the Food Fort has assisted Pitabilties with lunchtime placement at office complexes, festivals, and other events for maximum exposure.
After closing a small business loan with ECDI, Pitabilities food truck was able to open for business in September 2011, serving Mediterranean-inspired flatbread creations. Pashovich is committed to using only fresh ingredients and prefers to use locally-grown ingredients when possible. He has hired one employee and uses spot labor when needed, but plans to hire one more full-time employee and one part-time employee. Pitabilities has been so successful that Jim plans to build a new truck this year and will hire three people to run the second truck.
Through ECDI’s Food Fort and access to capital programs, Pitabilities was able to enter Columbus’s competitive mobile food scene. Since 2004, ECDI has made more than $11 million in loans to about 550 small businesses, creating or retaining about 1,650 jobs. Every business and job created or retained equates to an increase in state and local tax dollars.
In addition, ECDI has brought millions of federal dollars into the local economy, and has helped keep those dollars circulating locally through small business capitalization.
In the past, ECDI has been able to finance businesses like Pitabilities primarily through federal, state, and local programs. As the demand for our small business financing products skyrocketed, we knew it was time to create a new source for loan funds by launching the Invest Local Ohio campaign.
Every dollar committed by individual investors to the Invest Local Ohio program will be loaned to a local small business and leveraged with at least two more dollars from other ECDI loan funds and guarantees a minimum two percent return. Investors have the opportunity to lift up hardworking entrepreneurs like Jim Pashovich, whose success bolsters the local economy, creates jobs and taxpayers, and translates to more Ohioans participating in the economic mainstream.
To learn more about Pitabilties’ menu and locations, visit Pitabilities.org.
If you could invest in fuller lives for Central Ohioans looking to capitalize their dream, would you? For more information on becoming an investor in the Invest Local Ohio campaign, contact ECDI President Steve Fireman at 614-732-0577 or [email protected].