Sometimes you just know you can do better being your own boss. That’s what Mawa McQueen realized after working as a restaurant manager. “There was just too much bureaucracy,” Mawa recalled. ”I had no clue how to start a business on my own, but wanted the freedom to do what I believe in.” Mawa followed her dream and began catering.
Mawa’s business began as M&M Home Dining Services, an in-house personal catering service located in Aspen. When the recession hit and people cut back on private chefs, Mawa and her husband rebranded her business to become more full-service, naming it Mawa’s Kitchen. Expanded operations include a store and café open daily for breakfast and lunch, in-flight meals for visitors traveling to and from Aspen, along with specialized cooking classes and team building events that supplement her popular boutique catering service.
Achieving this level of growth and success required financing. Mawa researched lending options online and met with local bankers, one of whom referred her to Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF). Her first CEF loan in 2011 helped with cash flow during the rebranding of her business. The second one in 2016 helped with the renovation of the kitchen space that now houses her signature café and store. Mawa also worked with CEF’s Business Acceleration Services team of consultants to help with the legal aspects of her business growth and to trouble-shoot about future opportunities.
Mawa’s in the process of expanding her services again, this time at Aspen Airport where she bid on a restaurant project. To make that a reality, she’s applying for another loan from CEF to help purchase kitchen equipment for the new space.
Mawa currently employs a staff of highly-trained chefs who help her meet demand for her innovative menu which uses locally-sourced ingredients. She also has a Marketing/PR coordinator who focuses on increasing the business’s social media presence along with a newly-branded website and homemade organic products in the works.
Now in a position to take time off from her business, Mawa is creating the restaurant experience she always wanted to offer. “I wouldn’t have been able to get the money to grow if I didn’t have CEF to help my business,” Mawa remarked. “For people who are honest and hardworking, CEF is better than a bank. They support you and help you move forward.”