2022 July Cape Plymouth Business Cover
2022 March Cape Plymouth Business Page 02

Opportunity For All

Our region is no longer just about seafood and traditional small businesses, nor is it a seasonal place.

Thanks to an influx of immigrants, the Cape and Plymouth area is rich with a number of small businesses including ethnic restaurants. People from afar often came here as students, to help fill the summer workforce needed to serve the hundreds of thousands of visitors. The quality of life and job opportunities convinced them to stay.

Read about three such businesses in our cover story and don’t miss our feature on another small business, Cape Cod Skateboards.

Also in this issue: toolboxes to keep your small business working optimally: new contributor Maureen Hogan writes about “Leveling Up Your Customer Experience,” and Donnie Robicheau discusses The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod’s partnership with Clover, a point-of-sale system at its core. Citrin Cooperman’s Kevin Ricci imparts some strategy for nonprofits to undertake to prevent cyber attacks.

Thank you for your continued support and may the summer be a busy and profitable one!

 

Dale and Carol to Our Readers - Masthead

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Wool & Bark
South Yarmouth
woolandbark.com

What is Wool & Bark?
Wool and Bark is an eStore that sells hand-dyed yarn for crocheting and knitting. Right now the yarns offered on the site are fingerling to bulky in either superwash Merino wool/nylon blends or 100 percent Merino wool, which is a soft luxurious wool.

What led you to start up the business?
In 2016, I started crocheting as a way to keep myself occupied after the loss of our beloved dog Koa. I explored different yarns on the market and fell in love with hand-dyed yarn. When the pandemic hit, I suddenly found myself with more time and learned and practiced dyeing yarn as much as I could. I fell 100 percent in love with the process of mixing colors and creating combinations; it was all I could think about. I saw inspiration everywhere, in everything.

How did you come up with the name for your business?
In between this time, my fiance and I decided we were ready to adopt another dog, knowing we wanted a shelter dog/rescue. We were drawn to the LastHopeK9 Rescue Organization, which works with Rescue Road to rescue dogs from kill shelters in the Deep South, then brings them to New England where they are put into foster homes until they get adopted into their “FURever” homes. When we met Juno, we instantly fell in love. LastHope’s method of vetting their potential adopters was intense and very thorough and we were so impressed with them. A portion of each sale on Wool & Bark is donated directly to LastHopeK9 Rescue.

What makes Wool & Bark yarn unique?
We offer fun, playful color combinations; collections that speak to people in different ways, not just by touch and feel. One of which is a pre-order collection based on different songs from The Beatles. We bring these colorways to life by telling a story about our interpretations of their songs, or some history behind the song meaning, about the mood and feelings behind a lyric, or some songs are a literal take on a song title. We have a Cape Cod-themed collection coming out this summer. In addition, we also offer other non-collection, ready-to-ship, fun and whimsical colorways as well.

What are the future plans for Wool & Bark?
Down the road, we would like to be able to offer our yarn in local yarn stores or do in-person pop-up shops to enhance the in-person experience and get to interact with people. We would also like to increase our donation amount and expand our support of similar rescue organizations like LastHopeK9 as it’s a cause we strongly believe in.

What is your favorite part about owning your own business?
As a business owner in the creative field, we can take it in any direction we’d like to with hard work and a willingness to try different things. It’s a wonderful feeling to have that kind of carte blanche in something you love.

Do you have an interesting occupation or unique business? Contact carol@capeplymouthbusiness.com to be considered for this feature.

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COVER STORY

The Incredible Journey

It wasn’t easy to get there, but these businesses founded by immigrants are thriving
By Carol K. Dumas

Opening your own business is part of the American dream, the ideal for which equal opportunity is available to any American. That dream has also attracted aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world. The Cape Cod and Plymouth region is full of many of these successful entrepreneurs who came to the area from other countries. As we celebrate Independence Day this month, we take a look at their journeys.

Island Cafe & Grill
251 Iyannough Rd, Hyannis
508-827-4641
islandcafeandgrill.com

When your roots are Jamaican, but you’re setting up a restaurant where the Cape Cod tourist market craves fish and chips and other traditional seafood specialities, what’s the business strategy?

At The Island Cafe & Grill, Patrick and Erica Sterlings’ recipe is to cater to the tourists and locals but also offer tastes of Jamaican spices and dishes.

The couple first came to Cape Cod from Jamaica in 1998 on an H2B visa and fell in love with the region and the opportunities for work and a quality of life they couldn’t have in their native country.

The Sterlings decided to stay, eventually becoming U.S. citizens and raising a family. Patrick had worked 22 years as a manager at 21 Atlantic at the five-star Wequassett Inn and Resort, while Erica earned her restaurant chops at Schooner’s and The Riverway. They shared a dream of owning their own restaurant and in 2017 they opened at a former sub shop located near the railroad tracks on busy Iyannough Road.

“Our own experience in the business paved the way for us, but when it’s your own place, it’s definitely a different monster,” said Patrick. “It requires patience and the ultimate goal is to have the customer return, to know you have good food to bring them back again and again. Restaurants are tough business and everyone has challenges. You have to do the best you can.”

“I didn’t think it would be this hard,” echoes Erica. “The overhead was insane.”

The Island Cafe & Grill began with traditional breakfast and lunch fare, but it has added in some Jamaican dishes over time and is now open for dinner, too. Jamaica’s famous jerk spice (Patrick uses Walker’s Wood Jerk Sauce (sourced from Jamaica) is added to some traditional dishes such as Chicken Alfredo, a Chicken Wrap and the Island Burger. Diners can also sample some more exotic dishes like Curried Goat, Braised Oxtail, Rasta Pasta and Escoviche Red Snapper with Fried Plantains.

Like most restaurants, the pandemic’s restrictions on businesses were difficult times. “We thought we’d have to close at one point,” recalls Erica.

But they offered to-go meals, installed an outside seating area and in 2020 opened The Island Hotdog Bar, with totally walk-up service, in a space adjacent to the restaurant.

All their hard work has paid off, Erica said; the business has been well received by both tourists and the locals, the latter who often enjoy special off-season discounts. In fact, The Island Cafe & Grill was recognized by the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce as 2021 Small Business of the Year.

This entrepreneurial couple is always looking to grow their business and lately have dived into catering.

“We put a lot of love in our food, we have a passion for this and you have to love what you do and that makes a big difference,” said Erica.

Shelly’s Tea Rooms
51 Court St., Plymouth
508-927-4402
shellystearooms.com

It might not seem like too much of a cultural change for a pair of Brits to travel across the pond and set up a business in America, but it turned out to be more of a challenging journey than Sean and Shelly Sinclair had envisioned.

The Sinclairs had owned and operated two tea rooms in England for more than 10 years until a vacation in the U.S. changed their career plans.

“We fell in love with America!” said Shelly.

The couple returned several times and explored both coasts and many states in between. They chose Plymouth for their American tea shop after learning about the town’s ties to England via the Pilgrims. They applied for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, part of the family of U.S. visas available to citizens or nationals of more than 30 countries that have trade treaties with the United States. Individuals with significant funds to invest can come to the U.S with an E-2 visa to set up a business, practice or office.

Everything was going according to plan and they signed the papers in January 2020 to buy a former insurance company space at 51 Court St., in bustling downtown Plymouth. But the pandemic hit in March, making it impossible for the Sinclairs to come abroad and creating a lot of headaches. They persevered through endless permitting (“There were fees for everything!” Sean said), the visa application process, business insurance, and remotely designing the interior of the space and buying furniture. Not to mention they had to find a house to buy in an tight and expensive housing market and catch up with vaccinations required for their son to attend middle school.

They were able to build up anticipation for their eventual opening with a banner proclaiming “the British are coming” outside the tea room.

A month after finally securing their business visa, Shelly’s Tea Rooms opened on Feb. 23, 2022, Massachusetts’ first authentic English tea rooms, and the Sinclairs have been well-received by customers and working seven days a week since. The welcoming space seats about 40 people. All food is made on the premises including the clotted cream. Besides delectable scones, cakes and tea sandwiches, the many choices of a tea would make any patron’s head spin, but Shelly, decked out in her polka dot frock and broad smile happily explains it all. Customers can also browse the small gift area, filled with British tschotskes and pose by a picture of Queen Elizabeth near the loo. Two clocks on the wall indicate London and Plymouth time.

“It’s turned out better than we hoped,” said Shelly. “We’re still trying to get the hang of when the busy times will be.”

Another issue was that the flour is different here (higher protein content) than what’s used in England and Shelly had to experiment to get the best one for her trademark scones, for example.

While they speak a common language, the nuances between British and American English words and pronunciations can be amusingly confusing.

“Your roads here are a doddle!” exclaimed Shelly, meaning “easy.” They’ve found the local traffic quite nice compared to the busy streets where they lived in England. (They have not ventured onto Route 95, however…)

“I was surprised the cars stopped at the crosswalk to let me walk across the street,” said Sean. “That would have been unheard of in Cambridge, England!”

New England Wellness Solutions Inc.
90 Rockland St.,
Hanover
781-829-9355
newellnesssolutions.com

Jimmy Chung Duong was just a toddler when his parents and his six siblings left Vietnam in 1986, part of the “boat people” exodus. It took three years for the family to arrive in the U.S., after surviving 28 days in the South China Sea, heading to Macau, where a British ship picked them up.

“We were running away from the Vietnam War, not chasing the American dream,” Duong is quick to explain. “We were casualties of war. We had no food. Agent Orange had wiped out all the crops. My father built the boat that carried us.”

But Duong is, in fact, living the American dream. After graduating from college, he was hired by Johnson & Johnson as a financial analyst. “But it wasn’t my career path,” he said. “I wanted to make a difference and not just do numbers.”

Duong was increasingly drawn to helping people more than making profits for a corporation. Interested in drawing on his roots in Eastern medicine, he returned to school and obtained Board Certified as a clinician in acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He is president and CEO of his own company, New England Wellness Solutions Inc., managed by his brother. Jimmy Duong is taking on cases for the first time in four years. ( “Difficult cases only please.”)

Educating Americans who are so entrenched in Western medicine has been a process, but Duong has found that due to the Internet and the availability of information, more people are open to explore alternative therapies such as acupuncture and cupping therapy instead of relying solely on drugs when their pain management has reached an impasse.

“We inspire hope for families, for people who cannot get free of pain,” he said. “Every person who walks through the door has a dose of skepticism. It’s often their last option. Patients often don’t see other options, they are not given. Your health is so complicated, but you are in charge of it.”

Duong has returned to Vietnam several times, mainly to visit his grandmother, who died a few years ago at age 105.

“Our life is so different from a typical American because of what we went through,” Duong reflected. “We’re so blessed to be here and we value everything. Just having a meal together is a blessing.”

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