A Greek dessert that was used within the Olympic Video games in 776 BC. It was rebuilt centuries later to permit a troubled meals truck firm to change into a nationally distributed meals producer.
The traditional dessert referred to as Loukoumades is just like a donut however is a breed of its personal. The treats are spherical balls of yeast which can be crispy on the surface and fluffy on the within.
Tammy Levent from Palm Harbor, Florida calls her creations “Heavenly Puffs”. She is fast to say she did not invent Loukoumades, however she launched them to many competition goers in Florida when her household began promoting them off a meals truck. The meals truck began as a sideline on the weekends when she wasn’t working her journey agent. Now she sells a whole lot of containers of frozen Heavenly Puffs to eating places, grocery shops, and even Greek colleges and church buildings on the market for fundraisers.
At first, they solely offered the sweet that may be topped with honey, cinnamon, sugar, fruit syrup, Nutella, and extra of their meals truck. Levent made the batter on the spot they usually may prepare dinner as much as 500 an hour in a $ 7,000 deep fryer. They have been virtually all the time offered out.
However the booming enterprise in each meals vans and journey businesses shortly got here to a standstill when the pandemic suppressed holidays together with road festivals and commerce festivals.
Do a pandemic pivot
With the additional time, Levent started to consider one thing somebody had instructed her on the final occasion she labored at, an enormous 2020 New Years Eve celebration at a Greek restaurant in Tampa referred to as the Acropolis.
“We could not sustain with orders all night time,” she recalled. “The restaurant proprietor stated, ‘If you happen to may discover a approach to make these frozen meals service merchandise, each Greek restaurant on the earth would purchase them.'”
The dough takes time to make and have to be cooked on website as it’s tough to freeze yeast merchandise prematurely.
“I used to be quarantined at residence,” recalled Levent. “I stated to my husband, ‘Are you able to activate the generator for the meals truck? I am going on the market and I will attempt to freeze this stuff. ‘”
She spent the subsequent three months making the batter, cooking the loukoumades within the truck’s fryer, after which freezing them to seek out one of the best course of. It turned out that the key answer was to hoover seal the dough in freezer luggage.
Construct a complete new enterprise
This primary a part of Levent’s story explains how, like many entrepreneurs, she noticed a necessity and fulfilled it. The remainder of her journey with frozen loukoumades is about how she began a enterprise to distribute her product.
After perfecting the frozen product, she went to eating places for style checks.
“I went to the Acropolis and the proprietor says, ‘Oh yeah. You’re good.’ And I stated, ‘Dude, they have been frozen,’ ”she recalled. “He couldn’t consider it. Eating places can now produce them in two minutes as a substitute of three hours. “The Acropolis and different eating places ordered containers of frozen goodies. Levent knew she would want more room and extra licenses. She additionally considered promoting to caterers.
“I remembered a pal of mine who owned Delectables (Superb Catering) in Palm Harbor. I went in with my samples. I did not even have an appointment, ”stated Levent.
She spoke to her pal and realized that her enterprise was very sluggish through the pandemic. Levent requested to lease a nook of the industrial kitchen. For $ 500 a month, she secured a spot to fabricate her product in a facility that would cross a Florida state well being inspection.
Each state is completely different, however all require meals manufacturing amenities to satisfy an extended record of specs, corresponding to: B. Sneeze safety, sinks with three compartments for laundry gear, flooring drains for disinfecting rooms, and storing meals no less than six inches above the ground.
After her license, Levent continued to promote to eating places and added grocery shops to her goal record. Others in wholesale instructed her to give attention to one factor or the opposite, as every product requires completely different approaches corresponding to completely different packaging, labeling and advertising.
“I used to be instructed you’ll be able to’t. I stated, ‘Do not inform me I am unable to. How do I do know which one will promote extra? “Stated Levent. It grew to become recognized and a saleswoman approached her and requested her to deliver the product to eating places outdoors of the state on fee.
It seems that eating places promote higher, however Levent purchased their product from grocery shops too. Heavenly Puffs are offered in almost 50 eating places throughout the nation and 10 retail markets.
Levent was stunned by the file required within the occasion an ingredient within the Heavenly Puffs is recalled.
“As a producer, you need to write the batch variety of the flour, sugar, yeast and the whole lot on a log. You need to say that this batch went on this pallet and what retailer or restaurant it was delivered to.
One other, however extra optimistic, discovery is the low transport prices for airways. A Greek faculty in Chicago heard about their frozen loukoumades and ordered 10 circumstances to promote as a fundraiser.
“I referred to as Southwest Cargo. I shipped 10 containers of this product for under $ 200, ”she stated.
Heavenly Puffs now has 9 workers who make round 4,200 goodies a day. The “Puff Truck” was chosen to have a seat on the Tremendous Bowl Expertise Pageant in Tampa. With out frozen goodies to roast on-site, there would by no means have been sufficient loukoumades to satisfy demand at this week-long occasion.
“We have made almost half 1,000,000 strikes since we began,” stated Levent. “I might by no means have made this up if we hadn’t had COVID.”
Katherine Snow Smith is a contract reporter and editor based mostly in St. Petersburg, Florida and the writer of Guidelines for the southern rule breaker: missteps and classes realized.