LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – After a year and half of planning, which included more than two months of construction costing hundreds of thousand of dollars, Jade Cafe on West Avenue opened its doors Monday.
"It's made for a lot of long days and long nights," said owner Ryan Niemeier, who also works as an engineer with Century Link. "Since I have another full time job, I've been working plus trying to do this. So it's about time management."
"But after all the months of preparation and to now open the doors and see what happens, it's great," he said. "We started off a little slow this morning but as the day progressed we had more and more people come in."
Niemeier and his partner Nick Hotchkiss are opening their business during turbulent economic times – with the country's unemployment rate above eight percent and a presidential election looming in November.
But the 20-year friends didn't think much about that when they decided to open Jade Cafe – which serves coffee, sandwiches, wraps and pastries, and even boasts a frozen yogurt bar.
"It's all about finding the price points of what people are willing to spend now versus five years ago," Hotchkiss said.
"Five years ago, no one blinked an eye at spending $10 dollars a person. Now, your price points are around $7," he said. "So you have to fine tune your menu and make sure you're within the price points of everybody. People are still going to come eat."
"We thought the economy was coming around," added Niemeier. "So we thought if we could get in on the start of it coming around and then ride that wave as it keeps building, maybe now is the best time to get into it."
Their attitude is one that Anne Hlavacka, of the UW-La Crosse's Small Business Development Center, said is becoming more common among entrepreneurs as they begin to forget the woes of the recent recession.
Hlavacka said the La Crosse are provides small business owners with an added bonus.
"There's support in the community to try and support small businesses," she said. "I think we have a strong local workforce they can turn to and I think there's a strong overall work ethic in the area."
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