San Diego’s First Urban Distillery and Tasting Room Set to Open in April
“Because everyone needs a little uncomplicated sophistication in their lives.” – Anonymous
I had a chance to sit down with Founder and President of 619 Vodka, Nick Apostolopoulos, to hear what he had to say about a new distillery and tasting room opening in North Park! As you may know, 619 is San Diego’s area code, and when I found out about this genius branding, I knew everyone in San Diego would want to know more, so I found it fitting to interview him. Nick and I talked a lot about his flavor-infused vodkas, and I really got the inside story on where these infused ingredients come from.
What is 619 Vodka All About?
Nick and his company love to create vodka infused with real ingredients from around San Diego. They make their spicy vodka with peppers from Fallbrook, and their coffee flavored vodka from coffee that is roasted by Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. Watch the full video interview to get the inside scoop on what’s coming:
Nick launched his company 619 Vodka in 2012, and immediately began creating a non-infused vodka. Over time, and after a lot of struggle with the FDA, he got approval for his infusions, and started creating the vodka that you see in stores all around San Diego today. Nick wanted his company to use fresh ingredients which were the most difficult to pass. He explains that if he had used a chemical flavoring, it would have been much easier to pass. Fresh ingredients require explanations of how the food is growing, what ingredients are in the food and food safety information. As Nick states in the interview that’s hard to figure out for each real, growing cucumber that goes into a vodka infusion. The FDA has been one of Nick’s biggest challenges, which is part of the reason he is so passionate about his final products.
Any Future Plans for 619 Vodka?
Nick would love to expand the brand over time to include other flavors that are most seasonally focused, such as watermelon mint basil or white strawberry (from white strawberries in Temecula, that apparently taste much like a pineapple!) Chinos Farms in Fairbanks Ranch, a few years ago grew a batch of orange watermelons and 619 Vodka would love to do a batch of orange watermelon infused vodka. If that happens, it will be awesome, unique and fresh. Like any other farming crop though, there is a risk of running out of tasty product to sell. If the crop comes back the next year, it comes back, and if not, the infused alcohol is limited and therefore always changing. Although the infusions keep Nick very busy, the thought of a tasting room and restaurant has always inspired him, and now it is becoming a reality, which is the most exciting announcement from 619 Vodka to date!
Is This Distillery Legal?
Local distilleries have new laws allowing more relaxed sales of alcohol and allowing distilleries to serve alcohol on site. Nick thought the laws would take a few more years, but he is excited that they are already in effect, and thrilled to be opening the first tasting room and restaurant in San Diego county. This 619 Vodka tasting room will also include every other local spirit that is made in southern California. San Diegans who love local spirits will appreciate this tasting room, and even though there are 9 local breweries around this new location, 619 Vodka’s tasting room and restaurant will also serve a menu of local craft beer. The food menu will be California cuisine, with dishes that will match the vodka. Peppers from the scorpion pepper vodka will be involved in some plates for an added spice, and maybe rose petals in a dessert. They don’t have the menu set in stone yet, but they are excited to showcase fun creative dishes.
What Flavors of Infused Vodka Can I Purchase Right Now?
The vodkas they currently have for sale are:
Scorpion Pepper Infused Vodka: 8x hotter than a habanero pepper. Great for those who love Bloody Marys, but also good in fruit drinks, or nutella/chocolate combinations, or with mescal, to create a smoky flavor.
Coffee Infused Vodka: Made with coffee from Bird Rock Coffee Roasters
Cucumber Infused Vodka: Great for mixed cocktails or over ice.
Rose Petal Infused Vodka: Very unique, you either love it or don’t love it. Great for a flowery lemonade.
Where Can I Buy 619 Vodka?
Nick likes to say, “Everywhere except the big places.” You can find 619 Vodka in smaller restaurants, but not the bigger chains because they usually do not carry too many local alcohol brands. 619 Vodka is also in the smaller (not big brand name) liquor stores.
What is the Ultimate Goal for 619 Vodka, and How Can I Help?
The ultimate goal for 619 Vodka is the getting the restaurant in North Park off to a good start, where they’ll be able to play with the infusions, where they can serve the cocktails and make small batches of different flavors to see what the public will like. They also plan to do collaborations with other companies in the neighborhood. Support local craft, and you’re not going to get any more fresh ingredients than this vodka. Other vodkas are using flavorings and colorings to say their products are infused. 619 makes something you could honestly make at home, but with their large batches they have a more consistent recipe.
You can help bring 619 Distillery and Tasting Room to life! Check out the Indiegogo campaign that Nick created to help raise the funds needed to bring this concept to life! Consider supporting to gain access to the private launch party, gift cards, your name on their “Wall of Thanks” and other perks!
Our own publisher and contributing author, Patrick Henry, has written a book called Plan Commit Win: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup. This book is focused on the processes and practices of building successful businesses, and how to present information and convince prospective investors to make a win-win investment in your company. Here’s a little about what Patrick has to say about this exciting new business book coming to the entrepreneurial community:
“PLAN COMMIT WIN: 90 Days to Creating a Fundable Startup is a book that I have had locked inside of me for years. This is not a pie-in-sky or theoretical approach to running businesses and raising capital. It is the same process that I have used to build successful businesses, raise over $200 million in equity capital for my companies, and execute over $2 billion in M&A transactions. I’ve spent the last year creating the content and building the online platform to launch the book. The process I describe should take entrepreneurs no more than 90 days to complete, assuming they are starting from scratch. PLAN COMMIT WIN can also be used as a screening tool to see what components may be missing from an entrepreneur’s process, plan, or pitch. I’m incredibly excited about this project, and proceeds from the Kickstarter campaign will help to offset some of the costs for creating this much-needed book for the startup community!
Why PLAN COMMIT WIN Is Needed Now
During the past few years, I’ve had discussions with dozens of founders and CEOs as an advisor to startups through my firm QuestFusion. In these discussions, I frequently ask, “What do you lose sleep over?” The most consistent answer is “Raising my next funding round.” This is understandable. Having sufficient cash for product development and driving the growth of the business is one of the most important jobs of a startup CEO. In my experience, there is a hierarchy of requirements for raising outside capital for your company. In PLAN COMMIT WIN, I’ve codified a process of efficiently and effectively ascending the hierarchy of raising capital. Implementing these steps will not only get you to the top of the pyramid, it will also get the right investors into your company. The same process also dramatically increases your chances of business success, and improves your confidence and credibility with outside investors. This is yet another reason why PLAN COMMIT WIN enhances your chances of getting funded.”
Kickstarter is LIVE – Pre Order the Book
Patrick’s book is now LIVE on Kickstarter! You can support it by clicking here. The primary audience for this book is startup CEOs and company founders intending to raise outside capital for their companies. The book will be especially helpful for first-time entrepreneurs, technical founders, and serial entrepreneurs who haven’t had their first success. Significant parts of the book are also relevant for small to mid-size business owners who have domain expertise, but lack some of the business fundamentals needed to successfully launch and grow their businesses. If you’re looking to succeed in your business, please take a look at his Kickstarter Campaign, and pre-order a book for yourself today!
Fresh Salads Delivered to Your Work or Home Doorstep in San Diego
“A salad is not a meal. It is a style.” -Fran Lebowitz
Farmer’s Fix is a San Diego salad delivery company that offers weekly subscriptions of delicious and nutritious salads delivered directly to your doorstep at home! If you’d rather have the salads delivered to your work, they can do that also! Are you often wandering around on your lunch break looking for something quick, but also healthy to eat? When I do that, I usually end up at a fast food restaurant grabbing something in a few minutes because I couldn’t make up my mind. With Farmer’s Fix, this problem is solved!
I had the opportunity to talk with the CEO of Farmer’s Fix about how the company works, and where he got the inspiration to start such a great idea. Here is our full interview:
He describes the salads in detail throughout the video and it makes me very hungry! After watching this video interview, I went on the site to check out the Farmer’s Fix process right away. Their website is simple to use and actually, pretty fun! The salads are bright and colorful and look delicious!
Cofounders Tawei David Lin and Doug Murphy
Next time you’re craving a salad, make sure to head to myfarmersfix.com and order for yourself, your family, or your co-workers! If you place your order by Wednesday, you’ll receive your salads that Sunday! They are packed with different ingredients and always come fresh!
Have you tried their Kalefornia Dreamin’ salad yet? It is one of their best sellers. Let me know if you try it!
Why Resolutions Don’t Work, and Why Setting Annual Goals, If Done Right, Have a Great Chance of Working
I was out and about earlier this week and ran into an acquaintance. We had a short chat about sports, the weather, and life. She asked me if I had any New Year’s resolutions. Whenever I get this question, I have to ask myself, “Should I really be brutally honest with this person?” I usually decide to be polite and say something like, “I want to eat less processed food and less sugar.” The correct way to say this, of course, is “I resolve to eat less processed food and less sugar,” but that sound pompous and ridiculous, so I just say it the first way. In reality, I really don’t have New Year’s resolutions. I don’t think they work, and at least for me they have never worked. The statistics show that only 8% of people that actually make New Year’s resolutions keep them. And I bet if you dug into this further, you’d find-out that those 8% actually set a goal or some goals around that resolution. Now, I do have goals that encompass eating less processed food and less sugar, but that is different than a resolution.
Most people that ask you about New Year’s resolutions usually aren’t interested in your goals or your plan for your life, so it is always best to answer with some simple resolution that sounds good, and might even be aligned with your real goals. It is like discussing the weather and local sport. It is small talk. It is a good lubricant for relationships, so learn how to do it. It is worthwhile. Otherwise you look stupid, shy, or like an jerk.
Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions
As I mentioned above, I don’t make resolutions because they don’t work, and because I actually have a plan for my life. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not do something”. I actually have pretty good resolve. I would consider myself to be pretty self-disciplined, but not to the point of being autocratic, inflexible, and no fun. I think you must have self-discipline, a willingness to make sacrifices, and a good work ethic to achieve anything worthwhile. As coach Vince Lombardi said, “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
What are Goals, Really?
A goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort, an aim or a desired result”. Goals are results oriented. A big part of setting goals it to set them in such a way that you actually think you can achieve them. It is also critically important to have an emotional attachment to the achievement of the goal. How will it make you feel? State that as part of the goal process. As Napoleon Hill said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
How do You Set Goals?
I think it is really important to have SMART goals:
In my experience, in order for a goal to work, you have to want the result of the goal more than you want the good feeling from not doing the things required to meet the goal. This can be anything from watching TV, eating a piece of cake, drinking a six pack of beer, smoking a cigarette, sleeping-in, skipping going to the gym, etc.
How Do You Get Yourself to Believe?
If you haven’t attached a strong set of emotions of how you will feel when you achieve the goal, it is really difficult to meet the goal. It is going to be hard anyway, and nearly impossible without being able to visualize those feelings. I think it is good to put your main goal on a 3X5 notecard and keep it where you see it everyday. Keep it on the bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, or with you. Meditate on it and the feelings you will have once you achieve it. I think it is best to state your goals as if they have already happened. Say, “I will,” versus, “I want.” I like to have five big goals that are five years out. It helps to set the direction and context for me. Having big goals that are five years away gives you time to work on them and let your mind really believe they are possible.
I think it is also important to have a plan with intermediate milestones that allow you to see your progress and results along the journey. For me, this helps to keep me motivated. Another thing that works well for me is to have an accountability partner, and sometimes even a coach. Worthy goals are hard. That is why most people are not successful.
Example: One of My Big Personal Goals for 2017
My fiancée, Amanda, and I are getting married on August 12, 2017, so I have a fitness goal related to that:
I will look and feel great on my wedding day. I will look good in my tux, and in a swimsuit on my honeymoon. I will fit comfortably is freshly washed size 36” waist pants. I will have tons of energy for my bride, and feel better about the health of my heart. I will weigh 215 lbs. on my wedding day and have a body fat percentage of 14%. Living a happy, long, active, and fit lifestyle is important to me. When I achieve this, I will feel a great sense of accomplishment, and proud of how I look.
I have an exercise plan, a diet plan, a food log, a set of charts to measure progress, and a vision for the future. That said, I still plan to drink a glass of champagne at midnight tonight.
I also have some pretty big goals for QuestFusion in 2017. Setting annual goals is an important part of my business and personal life. I also have specific actionable plans with milestones, and I know how I will feel when I achieve the desired results. I have a coach and an accountability partner and some other people in my inner circle who support me. We support each other. I can tell you that I’m really excited for 2017, and there are a lot of cool and fun things in store. I hope 2017 is your best year ever. I know it is going to be awesome for me, for QuestFusion, and for our clients! Happy New Year everyone!
Shop Local Products This Year to Help the San Diego Small Business Community
“I’m a big fan of small business ownership. I think it’s the backbone of American innovation. But to be successful, you first have to have the courage to go for it.” -Bill Rancic
Have you started your holiday shopping yet? We’re less than a week away from Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the return of the Elf on the Shelf, the 12 Days of Christmas, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Before you know it we’ll be ringing in 2017. Are you making your list and checking it twice? Are you gearing up to spend hours in line waiting for that must-have item at the big box stores? Planning to spend Cyber Monday glued to your laptop? What if this year you took a different approach and saved yourself some time and stress and shopped small businesses?
An unknown author said, “When you buy from a small business you are not helping a CEO buy a third vacation home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom put food on the table, a dad pay a mortgage or a student pay for college.” Small business owners are people who have been brave enough to make their dreams come true. Some businesses start with a very clear vision and others start with a passion that evolves into something bigger than they ever imagined. There’s a very different feeling you get when you get to know the owner and creator of a small business vs. when you walk out of a big box retailer.
San Diego truly has some of the best food from carne asada burritos to acai bowls and everything in between (read my latest food review here!), but did you know we have some amazing small food businesses as well? These local treats are perfect for stocking stuffers, teacher gifts, holiday parties, gift baskets, corporate gifting and soo much more. Here are my top 4 local treats:
Sugar Mamma Caramels
The owner and operator, Nancy Flint, turned her passion for making caramels into a very sweet business. She works in her home based kitchen making her award winning Sea Salt Caramels along with 16 other flavors. Everyone loves Sea Salt Caramels, but what about Bourbon Caramels, Meyer Lemon Caramels, or Chai Caramels? Her Sugar Mamma business motto is “Give Love, add a little Sugar” and she definitely puts a lot of love into each and every caramel, which are individually hand wrapped in biodegradable cellophane, and packaged with care. So instead of buying all that prepackaged candy this year, spread some cheer with these all-natural and delicious homemade caramels. Sugar Mamma caramels can be purchased from local retailers (find out where here!), ordered directly through her website, or you can contact Nancy directly by emailing: email@example.com. Follow Sugar Mamma on Facebook @SugarMammaDesserts or Instagram @sugar_mamma62 for upcoming events and promotions.
Kip’s Nut-Free Kitchen
Jenny Stackle, the owner and operator of Kip’s Nut-Free Kitchen, who is the mom of a little boy with food allergies, felt it was important to make something safe for her son to eat. Food allergies can be life threatening and it takes a lot of diligence to protect your loved ones against allergic reactions brought on by food. As a result, Jenny has created a vegan, nut free, gluten free, top 8 free granola bark that you will want to eat and snack on whether you have food allergies or not. She too works from a home based kitchen and you can order by emailing her here: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @kipsnutfree on Facebook and Instagram for more product information, upcoming events and promotions.
Bliss and Baker
Owners Natalie and her mom Laura share a passion for baking, which led to the creation of Bliss and Baker a year and a half ago, specializing in small batch rice crispie treats. This mother-daughter team is serving up flavored rice crispie treats like Salty Caramel Crispies, Peanut Butter Crispies, and El Churro Crispies just to name a few. You can find their delicious treats at some local retailers (find out where here!) or you can order directly from their website. They also enjoy making custom orders for local events, businesses, and corporate gifting. For more information, upcoming events, and new flavors, check them out on Facebook @blissandbaker and Instagram @blissandbaker or by email: email@example.com.
Owner and operator, Michelle Johnson, has always been a foodie and while she was sampling marshmallows one day from a fair, she thought about how she could make them better…and boy has she! Once she mastered the perfect marshmallow, she turned her creativity over to the flavors and toppings. She buys authentic Colombian chocolate from a company called CasaLuker Cacao whose mission it is to give back to the community through sustainability and development opportunities. These artisan marshmallow pops come in a variety of flavors including S’mores, Key Lime, Cookies’n’Cream, Coffee Macadamia (infused with local James Coffee), and so much more. For more information, check out her website. To place an order, contact Michelle directly by emailing her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook @shugasd and Instagram @shugasd for upcoming events, sales, and seasonal flavors.
These homemade San Diego treats will surely bring joy to the consumers and the business owners. Each company has been SanDiegoFoodGirls tested and approved! So as the end of the year approaches, consider making a change and pledging with us to shop local and support our community of small businesses in San Diego.
Have you shopped with these businesses before? Comment below and tell us about your experience.
Helping Young Families and Protecting Children is the Mission of Home Start
“Awesome Quote from amazing person.” – Author of amazing quote
Home Start has a vision for every child to have a safe, stable and nurturing home, and they are working to make that vision a reality each and every day. Home Start‘s CEO Laura A. Tancredi-Baese talks with me about the many programs the organization has created for the people who need Home Start’s help, primarily young moms. I gave birth to my son when I was just 17 years old, so visiting Home Start brought back memories of being a young mom, and the struggles that come along with raising a child while still trying to grow up yourself. I remember waiting in line at churches for diapers and baby food. I remember having to let my son cry in a babysitter’s arms while I went off to high school for the day. I remember what it is like to receive a helping hand, and be completely grateful for caring people in this world. Laura is an inspiration to me with her work at Home Start and I was thrilled to interview her. Take a look at what she has to say:
Home Start helps children and young mothers, ages 18-24 who are parenting a young child. These women, being so young, do not have a lot of job history so finding a job is tough for them. In partner with HomeStart, the Home Start Thrift Boutique, located here in the Normal Heights area of San Diego, opens many opportunities for these young women. “Repurpose for a purpose” is the motto, and you can see many original pieces in the shop that were part of the run down home that stood where the shop stands today. Working at the store helps these young women who have experienced trauma, poverty, and other disadvantages to build their self esteem. It truly allows the women to blossom and gives them the ability to move up in the employment world, and eventually become financially independent.
Home Start’s mission is really about ensuring resiliency. They focus on prevention programs and provide community services to families. The parents in the program become even better parents by learning skills that help children feel the love within the family. Home Start also provides free tax services, so they help a lot of families with their taxes during that time of year. They really work toward helping young moms with all of the aspects of life, teaching them about a mother-child bond, especially those with young children, as ages 0-5 can be some of the most critical years in a child’s life.
So what can you do to help Home Start with their mission?
You can buy items (or donate gently used, high quality items) to the Home Start Thrift Boutique, located at 3611 Adams Ave., San Diego CA 92116. Your purchase (or donation) directly helps the women and families in the Home Start programs.
Come to Hallo-Wine! Hallo-Wine is a Home Start event this Saturday, October 22nd from 3:00pm to 6:30pm held in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. All proceeds raised will provide critical assistance to San Diego’s most vulnerable children and families through Home Start’s programs. Guests will enjoy a fantastic array of boutique wines, hand-crafted beers and liquors, and gourmet hors d’oeuvres at a beautiful private estate in Marston Hills near Balboa Park. I cannot wait to try painting while wine tasting, that will be happening too! There will be live music and a silent auction, so make sure you don’t miss out. To register for this event, and get more information, click here. (It’s completely tax deductible!)
You can donate directly on the website, at www.home-start.org. Your donation is tax deductible and provides many women with housing, household necessities, and programs to ensure their success in the future. Your donation also helps prevent child abuse all across San Diego, and helps families in desperate need of support get back on their feet.
I am so thankful for getting some time to talk with Laura about Home Start and what they are doing in this incredible city! I cannot wait for Hallo-Wine! Are you coming? Let us know, we’d love to connect!
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