BREMERTON — When partners Suanne Martin Smith and Paul Robinson opened their Home Made Cafe Nov. 17 for breakfast, the restaurant owners most assuredly had an extra bounce to their step and a wide grin on their faces.
The partners in business and life had great reasons for starting their day sunny-side up. Their proposal to expand the commercial kitchen of their restaurant, Home Made Cafe in Port Orchard, won the votes of an independent panel of judges to award them a $20,000 edg3 Fund grant from Kitsap Bank. The pair will use the money to upgrade their commercial kitchen with a new commercial cooktop, an expanded pantry and a walk-in freezer.
“I’m so beyond happy,” an elated Martin Smith said the morning after the event. “I’m in shock, to tell you the truth. It feels surreal because the competition was pretty impressive. Every one of the five deserved the money. They all had a vision.”
The edg3 Fund competition for area small businesses is to recognize entrepreneurs “dedicated to growing their community in three ways: economically, socially and environmentally,” Kitsap Bank’s mission statement read.
A semifinalist in the competition, Cascade Hygiene of Bremerton, was presented the $5,000 Community edg3 Award. Judges awarded it to the company that best embodies the spirit of community, based on its application and video.
Home Made Cafe was joined by Bushel & Barrel Ciderhouse of Poulsbo, Morel Compass Mushrooms & Company of Port Angeles, Set & Drift Shellfish of Port Ludlow and SpringRain Farm & Orchard of Chimacum as finalists.
The five finalists appeared Nov. 16 at the Kitsap Conference Center at Harborside in Bremerton, where each gave a five-minute presentation about their business and how they’d spend the award grant.
Martin Smith made a five-minute pitch before a large dinner audience and an independent panel of judges. The four other edg3 Fund finalists also gave presentations.
“I thought my five minutes was going to be so long,” Martin Smith said, “but I actually had to shorten it.”
The audience included a sizeable number of Port Orchard residents, she noted.
“This award is great recognition for our town,” Martin Smith said. “Port Orchard is a hidden gem. People don’t realize how incredible we have it here, living right on the water.
“We love being involved in our community. There’s a strong sense of community here, especially among the small business people. We really try to promote each other and try to focus on helping each other.”
Matt Murphy, Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce executive director, agreed that the edg3 Fund will help shine a positive light on the business community.
“We are super-proud of Suanne and Paul, and the Home Made Cafe,” Murphy said. “It’s a great example of the resources, businesses and shopping opportunities we have here in Port Orchard.”
Judges stopped by after the award presentation to congratulate the Home Made Cafe partners. “The judges said we have a really strong business with a strong logo. They said it’s very marketable,” she added.
Martin Smith said the remodeling work will begin as soon as possible — but not soon enough for her partner. “Paul is the head chef, as well,” she said, noting that he is ready to start work on the remodel.
“Last night and this morning, Paul asked ‘When are we going to Tacoma to go shopping?’ I told him, ‘Buddy, this giant (ceremonial) check that’s five feet long and two feet wide is not going to pay for anything,’ ” she laughed.
Whenever they schedule that shopping trip to the commercial appliance store in Tacoma, the partners won’t waste time trying to decide what to buy — they’ve already picked out the freezer unit they’ll have installed in the kitchen.
“The cooktop and the new walk-in freezer will ease that burden our kitchen staff faces now with a lack of space,” Martin Smith said.
Sponsor Kitsap Bank created the edg3 Fund competition to provide a $20,000 prize for a small business with a unique, creative and innovative idea dedicated to growing its community economically, socially and environmentally, bank officials said in the event’s promotional materials.