Author: McCale Ashenbrener
It is never the perfect time to start a business. There is either too much competition, or the market is uncertain for your product. The economy is either booming leading toward bust, or the economic lull makes the risk daunting. Beth Alpaugh, owner of Simple Bites and It’s All About You catering, has weathered many storms in her entrepreneurial career.
Alpaugh’s first endeavor was a coffee shop in Harris Ranch, a subdivision that ceased development just months after she opened. “I needed to be creative to keep going. I am a very hard worker and I refuse to fail! I dug my heels in, used my skills and kept growing slow and steady.” She was able to open a second shop two years later and after much interest from customers she made the leap into the catering business. “During the last economic upheaval in 2008 we grew our business into one of the largest caterers in the valley.” Seven years later she forged ahead into the wholesale business and created Simple Bites, which offers fresh deli grab-n-go items, heat-n eat meals and fresh baked goods. “We were all set to launch our frozen meal line at the yearly food show this past March to 600 convenience stores and then COVID crashed my two-year endeavor!” Alpaugh laments. “I had to take a deep breath, pray and stretch the pennies to hang on.” Luckily business has picked up and she is preparing to offer her frozen line of products nationally.
In a sea of big manufacturers that use factory settings to create the pre-packaged sandwiches, wraps, baked goods and frozen meals we see at convenience stores, schools, hospitals, airports, coffeeshops, etc. Simple Bites stands alone as a fresh alternative. “We do not add additional preservatives to the food to extend the shelf life, we hand slice, hand make and hand pack daily.” This family run-business is housed in a 13,800 sq. ft. USDA facility in Meridian that is very community-focused. “We choose different charities to donate our time, supplies and/or resources. All of my staff have very big hearts and when we find a need we are there to help where we can.”
Alpaugh is not one to let the grass grow under her feet. Her motto is “if I am comfortable then the business is not growing!” As if a thriving catering business and wholesale division was not enough, Simple Bites Meals also offers a complete online meal service with grilling boxes and frozen meals available for pick up or shipped to your front door. This alternative comes in handy if your quarantine menu is feeling a little drab.
In these strange and challenging times Alpaugh reflects that “fear will not solve anything. My biggest advice to struggling entrepreneurs is to diversify money flow. You need money coming from different avenues so you are not dependent on any one client or one source of income. Find your niche! Be passionate!” Resilience, flexibility and grit have helped Alpaugh weather much inclement weather in her 18 years as a successful entrepreneur. As Simple Bites turns its gaze to a national market, she is looking forward to a brightening horizon.