In this feature, we gathered 16 young business owners in the food, farm or beverage industry that are establishing a brand in the FLX. We sent each one the same list of 10 questions. Below are their answers. We hope you enjoy learning about and supporting these local entrepreneurs!
Answers from Andrew Ballard of Forty Weight Coffee Roasters
1.What’s your biggest challenge in being a young business owner in the FLX? Specialty coffee can be a bit of a niche-market. So the amount of outlets that are a good fit to serve our coffee in the FLX can be somewhat limited. Fortunately NYC is close by, which helps keep our volume where it needs to be to feed our families.
2. What’s your favorite local comfort food after a long day of hard work? Gola Osteria. I can’t say enough good things about Gola. The food is amazing, the atomosphere tremendous, and the chef/owner Sam is ALWAYS in the kitchen, which is part of the reason everything is so perfect. Gola Gola Gola.
3. Favorite piece of business advice? Be yourself, create what you love, don’t chase trends.
4. Why do you run your business here? It’s a beautiful place to live. My partner and I were wanting to move to the Northeast from Bellingham, WA about a decade ago. We did a road trip around the entire region, and ended up falling in love with Ithaca. We moved here, created 40WT, and started a family. We’ve really enjoyed our time here.
5. Who’s your hero? I don’t believe in heroes. People aren’t meant to be worshiped. But I do draw inspiration from many people. Recently, from a business stand point, I’ve taken great inspiration from Dan Suarez at Suarez Family Brewery in the Hudson Valley. He uncompromisingly creates what he loves, regardless of the trends in American Craft Beer. And he’s so good at what he does, he is creating new trends in the industry, which probably annoys him. He made pilsners cool in US craft beer. Which is hilarious. And delicious. Cheers Dan.
6. What did you want to be when you were a kid? When I was a kid I used to say I wanted to be a hi-jacker, or a garbage man. I was a weird kid.
7. At what age do you think you will retire? I won’t ever retire. I’ll always need to create. I’ll bounce from this to that until I die.
8. Describe yourself in 3 words. To the point.
9. In the past people were buried with the items they would need in the afterlife, what would you want buried with you so you could use it in the afterlife? All that really matters to me in life is people. So I guess I’d like to be buried with my favorite people. Which sounds really creepy. I don’t even know if that’s allowed or not. Other than that, I would just like wine.
10. If you had to choose a completely new career, what would it be? I was a firefighter out in Bellingham, WA. Being a firefighter was the only “job” I could get excited about doing. I tested to be a firefighter when I moved to Ithaca, but I never got the call. It worked out for the best, but I still think very romantically about working in the Fire Service. Ithaca Fire Chief, if you’re reading this, hit me up.
12. Favorite place to eat in the FLX? I already said Gola, so I’ll say something else. Kindred Fare in Geneva, and Cafe Cent Dix in Ithaca are both terrific. Dano’s in Lodi was one of my favorite places to eat, but I haven’t been able to go back since Dano passed. Still too sad.
11. What would the book or movie about your life be titled? Cold Steel.
13. Local businessperson who inspires you? Dano continues to inspire me today. He taught me that you can be at the top of the game, without needing to take yourself too seriously. That was a very important lesson for me to learn. There’s a lot of self-important nonsense in specialty coffee. He also taught me that it’s still perfectly okay to tell dirty jokes.
All images by Chelsea Fausel.
A version of this article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 edition of the magazine.