Making healthy meal choices is often the first thing people compromise on when they’re swamped with work.
After all, when you’re running from meeting to meeting or trying to meet a project deadline, you typically go for the meal that’s closest and fastest – which is rarely the most nutritious option.
Fortunately for busy professionals in Winnipeg’s West End, there’s a healthier alternative.
Beet Happening is a “modern lunch counter” that specializes in providing delicious and nutritious food with fast-paced customer service. Breakfast empanadas, craft salads and personal- sized ‘pizettes’ are just some of the mouthwatering options you’ll find on their menu – all made from the freshest seasonal ingredients.
“Our belief is that quality, nutritious and exciting food should be accessible to all – especially busy people,” says founder Justin Ludwar.
Justin has always had an interest in the food but went to school for Social Services and Education. When he and his wife moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2009 for her MFA, it gave him the opportunity to work in the food industry.
While working at an organic deli, he was able to add some of his own recipes to their menu and observe how a proper kitchen is run. It was this experience that first gave him the idea to start his own healthy café when he returned home.
“There is so much more of an emphasis on providing a balanced meal [in Scotland],” says Justin. “Yes, there are fast food restaurants full of deep fryers, but many of the [independently-owned restaurants] served food that had a variety of elements on each plate.”
When he and his wife moved back to Winnipeg, Justin enrolled in a few small business courses and worked in the industry to gain more experience. Soon after, he channeled what he learned into his own business and opened Beet Happening in March 2015.
However, even with all of his experience and education, there were still a lot of circumstances that were out of his control that he had to accept and overcome.
“Whether it’s the permit office, weather or a delay from someone you are working with, these [setbacks] can be extremely stressful and costly,” says Justin. “My delays added up to a year and a half. It was very difficult at times to keep motivated.”
Still, he persevered and now he couldn’t be prouder of the business he built.
“We have survived,” says Justin. “It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s huge. Many small businesses that opened up after we did have unfortunately already closed due to the mental and physical stresses and financial obligations of running a business. I have never been late with a payment for anything regarding employees, taxes or wholesalers. For that I am proud.”
On top of running a thriving café, he’s also developed successful relationships with other local businesses like Vita Health, Parlour, Little Sister Coffee Maker, Scout Coffee & Tea and Fools & Horses who carry a variety of their products. He is also grateful for the support of Futurpreneur Canada, which provided him with financing and helped answer many of his questions or concerns regarding his business.
After reflecting on his entrepreneurship experience, Justin has this advice for any other aspiring young business owners:
“Follow your own intuition and make decisions based on that. So many people have ‘great’ ideas for you and every salesperson under the moon will approach you about a product you just can’t live without. What matters is you sticking to your original idea. Yes, it can change and be fluid as it develops but make sure it’s on your terms. Also, when it comes to legally binding documents, having a lawyer go over them with you may be costly in the beginning, but will benefit you in the future. Certain documents can legally dictate your life for years to come so making sure you understand everything is key.”
Written by: Jasmine Williams, Social Media and Content Specialist, Futurpreneur Canada