Tom Concannon, owner of Old School Heros, had the business plans set, loans lined up, and was even doing walk throughs to lease a space for his brick and mortar sandwich shop in Thornton, a dream that had been in the making for more than 25 years and one he had been actively pursuing for the past four years. But suddenly all those plans fell away. Sound familiar? As restaurants shuttered across the country, grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, lenders were backing off and Tom was left with a decision to make.
Tom describes the experience, “we were in lease negotiations in February. And then the world changed. Everybody closed. Business loans dried up. Lenders weren’t loaning any money until they knew what was going to happen and I saw what was happening real quick with restaurants starting to shut down and going out of business.”
For many businesses this was the end of the road, but over the summer, Tom’s realtor asked him to take a chance on a virtual kitchen concept, “Chef Ready”, located in South Denver. Through this new approach all ordering would take place online with delivery and pick up options, meaning Tom would spend his days cooking in a 250 sq. ft. kitchen located in a warehouse with several other small virtual kitchens. There was a lot for Tom to consider, but with the start-up costs being a quarter of what he had originally planned, he realized he wouldn’t need the loan anymore and decided to move forward with the new design for his business.
“It is a total left hand turn from what I was talking about doing but we’ll just go for it and we’ll use this as a stepping board to getting that brick and mortar when the time is right. For now, I can start proving my concept, making sandwiches, and getting my name out there,” Tom says.
The necessity for adaptability was first stressed to Tom by SBDC consultant, Nancy Barnett during a LEADING EDGE™ course. While Tom was originally averse to altering his plans, his persistence, flexibility, and courage to pivot his business in a major way is now paying off. Old School Heros is slated for its grand opening on April 21st.
Taking the best of all that Tom has learned in his 30+ years in the food industry, Old School Heros will be offering sandwiches, salads, and pastas catering to familiarity and comfort. Tom and Jill, his wife and co-owner, hope that Old School Heros will become a “go-to place” for many, a place where customers can know they will get great food they can afford. You can take a sneak-peak of the menu online and support the opening of Old School Heros come April 21st in Denver.