Inspired by his experience as a wine director at the upscale Mediterranean restaurant il Buco, Joe Robitaille, the new owner of Homespun Foods, was determined to open up a business that encapsulated his eight years as a sommelier in New York City. So, on the heels of the pandemic, Joe purchased Beacon’s beloved Homespun Foods cafe from one of our previous small business clients. Since then, he has made Homespun Foods his own and incorporates his New York City restaurant career into the layout of the restaurant cafe. Offering both an eclectic menu and serving as a wine store, Joe’s innovation has proven successful, but it did not come without obstacles.
As a new business owner amidst a global health crisis, Joe knew that his priority must be to take care of his staff. The onset of the lockdown initially caused him to downsize his staff by half. Still, since reopening, Joe has committed to keeping his staff safe and healthy while simultaneously ensuring the success of his business.
“A lot of people are fed up with the restaurant industry, often feeling like there’s an exploitation of workers,” Joe admits. “We’ve talked about things being sustainable for our lettuce and our honey. But, you know, I want us to think about it for our workers as well.”
The pandemic has indeed changed the way we work and has caused many career pivots. For the restaurant industry, these changes have resulted in staffing shortages. While Joe has mostly bounced back from his losses in staff, the well-being of his employees is still a priority. Homespun Foods did not have indoor dining until this May, per Joe’s request to keep his employees safe. Ensuring that his employees feel comfortable and safe is integral to the operations of his restaurant—every decision he makes, he first discusses with his staff.
When Joe was referred to us, we were eager to dive in and assist him with both our Small Business Express Loan and a PPP loan.
“The fact that you believed in me made me believe in the restaurant even more, and we wouldn’t have survived the pandemic without Community Capital New York,” says Joe.
Inevitably, Joe’s level of dedication to creating a safe workspace and his creativity in adapting to the constraints of the pandemic showed us his true potential.
We are proud to support Joe on his entrepreneurial journey and hope that you will stop by Main Street in Beacon, New York, for lunch at Homespun Foods. If you’re still not comfortable with indoor dining, Joe has a solution for every diner; HomeSpun Foods doubles as a Craft Beer & Cider Store. Pick up dinner and beer to go!
Follow Homespun Foods on Instagram or visit their website. Soon, their second Beacon café location inside the DIA museum will be fully open as well. For more impactful small business stories, visit our microsite.