Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Guttenberg, Iowa, and Prairie du Chien, Wis.
For much of their lives, Susan Farber and Bernie Saks have shared a deep passion for cooking.
The Dubuque couple have now been sharing their talents with the tri-state community for five years.
Farber and Saks opened Magoo’s Pizza, 1875 University Ave., in early 2015. It’s proven to be a successful avenue for expanding their culinary talents and connecting with the community.
“First and foremost, it has been a fun thing to do,” Farber said. “It’s also been an opportunity to pursue our entrepreneurial interests.”
Farber established a successful career in the technology sector, while Saks continues to work as a radiologist.
The couple spent much of 2014 perfecting their pizza recipe, a process that involved focus groups, taste-testing and an exhaustive effort to find the perfect crust.
The restaurant now employs a “fast-casual” concept and offers pizza with gourmet ingredients and handcrafted dough. The eatery’s salads also have proven to be popular.
“From an operational point of view, it is a very simple model,” Farber said. “It is also simple and easy for customers. You get your order in, you pay and your food is ready by the time you sit down.”
Three years ago, Magoo’s debuted a food truck that has proven to be a massive success. Farber said the mobile option is deployed to weddings, parties and special events throughout the region.
Magoo’s has opened a second food truck in Des Moines and plans to expand to other markets in the future.
The eatery has adapted its approach in the midst of growing coronavirus concerns.
The business offers pickup and delivery services from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
NEW ERA AT MARINE BUSINESS
New owners have taken the reins at a marine business that has been a mainstay in Guttenberg, Iowa, for 35 years.
Josh and Meghan Ludovissy became owners of J&L Marine in January. Jack and Linda Benskin opened the business in 1985 and had remained at the helm up until the recent sale.
Meghan is hopeful she and her husband can carry on the previous owners’ tradition.
“We want to make sure the business they built up over 30 years will continue to do well,” said Meghan.
The new owners have deep eastern Iowa roots. Josh grew up in North Buena Vista, and Meghan was raised in Dubuque.
Josh Ludovissy has more than a decade of experience working in the marine industry, while the venture marks a new challenge for Meghan.
She noted that the Benskins have continued to spend time at the business since selling it. Their presence has helped create a seamless transition.
“For now, we are trying to keep it business as usual, and we don’t want to make any drastic changes,” Meghan said.
Eventually, the Ludovissys hope to expand their inventory to include new boat lines.
The business sells fishing and pontoon boats and performs a wide variety of repairs and services.
Meghan said she’s been happy to see that longtime customers of J&L Marine are embracing the company’s new owners. This sentiment was on display earlier this month when the Ludovissys saw a huge turnout at an open house held at the business.
J&L Marine, 903 S. U.S. 52, is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 8:30 a.m. until noon on Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.
The business can be reached at 563-252-2020.
HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES
After receiving a crucial grant, a nonprofit promoting economic development and self-sufficiency will expand its programming in southwest Wisconsin.
Couleecap recently received an entrepreneurial support grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
Aaron Reimler, business and income developer at Couleecap, said the organization will use a portion of these funds to bring an entrepreneurial training program to Prairie du Chien.
Dubbed CO.STARTERS, the program took root more than a decade ago in Tennessee. Its massive success has prompted the program’s spread to other U.S. communities.
Reimler said the course is available to potential entrepreneurs as well as existing small-business owners. The course generally includes 10 to 16 people and lasts for nine weeks.
“The idea is for participants to dive into all aspects of a business model,” Reimler said. “The program allows them to test assumptions and apply concepts in a room filled with other people that are going through a similar process.”
The program is slated to begin on March 31 and will be offered in a virtual format.
The economic development grant also will enable Couleecap to expand a “pop-up shop” program that allows aspiring business owners to test out their models by operating rent-free for two to three months. This program already exists in multiple communities, including Prairie du Chien. With its new funding, Couleecap is allowing other cities with its footprint to apply for the program.
Couleecap serves communities in Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon counties.