It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that Sarah Simmons, known for Rise Gourmet Goods and Bakeshop, has wanted to reopen her signature shop on Main Street. Rise, which closed in May of this year, served breakfast and lunch and was a favorite among locals.
Simmons’ Main Street dreams just might be coming true, and if the devil’s in the details, then look closely at a slide she presented at 1 Million Cups at Richland Library Wednesday morning: An expanded version of Rise is likely headed to 1649 Main.
In an interview before the 1 Million Cups presentation, Simmons said she wanted to be on Main Street because she’d observerd “the cities that were coming back were the cities where the main street was undergoing a revitalization. I saw the power in that, and I really wanted that for Columbia and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Simmons presented the gathering at 1 Million Cups with an ambitious multi-year business plan that includes not only Rise on Main, but another full service restaurant as well as events catering and wholesale services.
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The first restaurant, The Cafe at Richland Library’s Main location, will be operated by Simmons and her team, and will serve as a business incubator for those interested in learning the tricks of the restaurant trade. According to signage at the Library, The Cafe is slated to open before the end of 2017.
The other two restaurants will share a location: The new iteration of Rise will be a street-level breakfast and lunch spot, while Birds & Bubbles will serve a menu built around fried chicken and champagne at dinnertime on the below-street garden level.
While there’s no date set, the restaurants could open sometime in 2018.
And if the three restaurants weren’t ambitious enough, Simmons and Aaron Hoskins, her husband and business partner, want to use their expertise to train newcomers to the restaurant industry, too.
“We were out to dinner,” she says, “and we were watching someone open a wine bottle (by placing the bottle) under their armpit.” Simmons said the incident prompted them educate waitstaff, relieving an age old problem for restaurateurs everywhere: Good staff is hard to find, and even harder to keep.
“We may not ever be able to step away from high turnover from our hourly employees,” says Simmons, “because Columbia is a college town. But what we can do (by working with area schools and targeting the non-college bound students) is try to utilize those entry level positions and show people a path upward.”
Long term, the couple wants the entire business to be 100% employee owned.