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Passion over profit makes business thrive

A quaint crowd of local residents gathered in the dining area of Della Zona on East State Street for a workshop on how to run a values-based food business.

Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil — owners of Della Zona, 270 E. State St., The Village Bakery, 268 E. State St. and Catalyst Café, 540 W. Union St. — ran the workshop.

These local businesses are all a part of Community Food Initiatives in Athens. CFI emphasizes the importance of a local-food movement in Appalachian Ohio that allows everyone to have access to good, healthy, real food despite their economic status, CFI Assistant Garden Coordinator Kurt Belser said.

They also provide workshops through the businesses in Athens that are members of CFI to educate and involve the community.

“We think it is very important for people to know how to open and run a values-based business,” Hughes said. “Anyone can easily start a business, but not everyone can have a values-based business.”

While making mozzarella in the midst of the workshop, the complementary business partners proceeded to reveal the secrets and struggles of owning several values-based businesses.

“It is important to figure out how to express your values through your business,” O’Neil said. “We want to be able to enrich the lives of those in the community everyday that we work.”

Though things in the community are constantly changing, a values-based business can learn how to evolve with the alterations.

“You cannot predict the future, but you can see what needs connected in the community,” Hughes said.

Furthermore, CFI works to secure food in the region in compliance with the poverty levels of Appalachian Ohio, Besler said.

Della Zona, The Village Bakery and Catalyst Café have even taken extra measures in the form of a wood-fired oven and solar panels to become more energy efficient in addition to their entirely organic menu and ingredients.

“It makes a difference when you are passionate and invested in what you are selling,” Hughes said. “We want to know that we are making a positive impact on the community.”

Profit should not be your only priority when opening a values-based business, though it can still be done, Hughes and O’Neil said.

“We care deeply about this area,” Hughes said. “There’s no reason a business can’t make the world a better place.”


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