Rolodex: Denver Entrepreneurs to Know
Mindful Nutrition with Jennifer Peters
By Jessica Fialkovich | @jfialkovich
According to the organization Food Allergy Research & Education, over 15 million Americans suffer food allergies. And although Colorado has the lowest obesity rates in the United States, one in five Coloradans suffer from the disease. Now, more than ever, healthy--and mindful--eating is a focus in our state and communities.
Jennifer Peters found passion and inspiration for her latest creation Just BE Kitchen by developing a place to eat healthy, mindful fare and connect food and wellness. Her new LoHi hotspot features a PALEO fast-casual cuisine for breakfast and lunch. I chatted with Jennifer about her journey to opening and what’s next for Just BE.
Why did you decide to launch this business?
I really wanted to close the gap between who I was and what I did professionally. I did not feel like my corporate gig was reflective of who I was or what I wanted to contribute. I knew I always wanted to start something in the food space and somehow connect it with mindfulness. It was not until later in the process that I had the “aha” moment to combine the two in a physical space. At times I was pressured to do things a certain way--design the next Chipotle. However, in the end, I am glad I stuck to my vision of creating a space at the intersection of food and wellness. I wanted a place that has its own look and feel, inspiration and quality food with mindful moments.
What do you love about your job?
My team. I love my team. It has been so humbling to be able to work with a group that has embraced my concept and vision of woman-owned. It is mind boggling to me at times to see how dedicated and bought into it they are. I also love the customers. I love that they feel safe in the restaurant, that they know they can eat everything, and they continue to say thank you to me and the team for that.
What has been your biggest struggle and how did you overcome it?
The location was a big struggle. At first, I did not want to go too “woo-woo” with the space, and I got pulled into that Chipotle model. I couldn’t find a space that fit. It was not until I had the conviction to fully embrace my vision that I found the perfect spot for Just Be. We also struggled with financing, which for a restaurant start-up can be difficult, and we ended up having to bootstrap our way to opening. I went into survival mode and did whatever I had to do to get the restaurant open; I put it all on the line. There was never any other option but to just move forward. Thanks to Colorado Lending Source, we were able to acquire financing shortly after opening, but that was an important experience for me.
What’s next for Just Be?
Right now we are just focused on consistency. Establishing consist processes and service is our number one focus. I want everything aligned so that we can scale fast, so once we are ready to go for location two, three, four, things are one-hundred percent in order.
The restaurant industry is typically male-dominated, did you have any circumstances you had to overcome as a woman owned operation?
I haven’t really had any challenges in regards to male vs. female, but I did face some adversity because I had no “restaurant” experience. There was a belief that since I had no direct experience, I could not be successful in the business, which is a bit of an ego killer. But I believed in my business background and knew I could run a great organization and hire a great team to do the rest. I also have an amazing culinary partner that has helped with the learning curve. I don’t believe you have to have direct experience to be successful in the industry, I mean I did a ton of research, training, and such; but it was no reason to give up.
If you could give one piece of advice to a fellow or budding entrepreneur, what would it be?
I could have given up so many times. Sometimes I thought I saw signs that I should have. Was the location struggle a sign? Financing struggle a sign? In the end, I kept going. So my advice is to just keep going, even on the lowest of days. Stick to your conviction and make it work.
How can the Broads of Denver help or serve you?
Come in, try us out and share your experience. We love to see the images and stories customers share on our social media channels. People feel good about what they eat, inspired by the experience and want to spread the goodness. Inspiration is infectious.