The Epicurean Connection, located in the heart of Sonoma, Calif., has all the ingredients for a good time. The spacious café attracts both locals and visitors stopping by on their way to or from the many famous wineries in Sonoma wine country.
But the Epicurean Connection is more than just a resting stop – it’s a specialty foods purveyor, cheese shop, and beer and wine bar specializing in artisanal, locally produced products. From gourmet jams and hard-to-find olive oils to house-made pasta sauces, the shop is a foodie’s dream. Owner and caterer Sheana Davis, who has supported the artisan and farmstead cheese movement for more than 20 years, also holds regular events at the Epicurean Connection, including “meet the cheese maker” days, live music nights and cheese-making classes.
A happy VerticalResponse customer since 2010, Sheana relies on email marketing to promote her many events and any distinctive new products she carries at the shop. The Epicurean Connection also maintains a very active social media presence, with daily updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Sheana recently took a few minutes out of her busy day to share some insights into her thriving small biz. (Check out the video below!)
- When did you launch your company? I started my catering business in 1992, and opened the retail shop in 2001.
- How many employees do you have? Six part-time.
- What types of marketing do you do? E-newsletter, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We also run print ads in four magazines and head up the annual Sonoma Valley Cheese Conference.
- How did you hear about VR? We signed up after the New York Fancy Food Show presentation in 2010.
- What do you like best about VR? The consistency!
- What is your schedule for a typical day, including any non-work activities? Up around 6 a.m., no Facebook or email at home. Head to work at 9 a.m. – shop, catering, cheese, office – and hope to be off by 5 p.m. Some nights we have to bartend at the wine bar from 8 to 10 p.m.
- What is the best thing about owning a small business? Building your dream.
- What is the biggest challenge for you as a small business owner? Some of the long days.
- If there were one magical power you could have, what would it be? Duplicate my skills to a manager within the shop.
- What are some of your favorite small businesses/brands? Pug’s Leap Cheese, Gypsy Cheese Company, Costeaux Bakery, Abita Beer, St. Florian’s Beer, Hamel Family Vineyard, Hanzell Vineyards and Bartholomew Park Winery.
- What’s one piece of marketing advice you’d give to another small business that’s just starting out? Be part of your community. Volunteer, donate and be present. In general: Be positive even through hard times.
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