A TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS READY TO HELP
Business consultants are key – that’s why when it comes to client selection, we’re choosy. We want to give each of you the time and guidance you deserve. We carefully review all client applications and handpick which consultant will be best for your business needs. At NO cost to you. The SBDC is a direct route for small businesses in search of success. We know that we didn’t get there alone. And neither will you.
Ryan and Annie Balow recently had one of their busiest weekends ever – Social Ice weekend. The Balows said being the owners of Thai Pop Restaurant in Downtown Rochester has been a whirlwind.
They first opened just days prior to the pandemic shutdown which brought its share of challenges for them. From having a set opening date, to switching to solely take-out, they were determined to make it work. The Balows came a long way to make their dream a reality and failure was not an option. It was just years ago they were doing pop-up events in their apartment. Then moving their pop-up location to Forager Brewery and other places. They spent six years of packing up their goods and utensils and cooking in different kitchens and now have a full restaurant with 40 employees.
Ryan and Annie credit the help of the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) in helping them realize their dream. Particularly, SBDC Consultant Rick Indrelie. Rick has been by their side since the beginning. Ryan initially connected with Rick for loan assistance. Soon it turned into regularly calling for advice, ideas on locations and crunching numbers repeatedly. Rick was able to help them turn their hobby into a business. He gave them the confidence to continue year after year – with just by being persistent in his support.
The Balow’s original dream was to transition from pop-up events to having a 10-table restaurant. Then the ultimate opportunity presented itself. They received a call from a fellow entrepreneur (now mentor and landlord) who had the same passion as they did. The opportunity was for them to take over a very popular corner spot in downtown Rochester. Ryan and Annie never imagined this could even be possible.
Once the building became available, the Balows contacted Rick at the SBDC to once again crunch numbers to take to their lender at Olmsted National Bank. They then met with their accountant at Smith Schafer and Associates. Little did they know that shortly after that, they would be running the “Best New Restaurant in Rochester” which seats 198 people. A tip to the hat for sure! Is it their ‘fresh from scratch’ recipes that made it possible or their great service?
Perhaps it is both.
It is important to them to note that they had help along the way from friends and family. They want to make that clear! One example is their branding and design was all done in- house, by family. They also bartered with those who were willing – genius!
Their day-to-day passion has led them to help others in the local food scene. Those with a dream just like they had. They take pride in providing off kitchen hours to those who do not have access to a commercial kitchen.
Both Annie and Ryan feel it is important to give others the opportunity as that is how they got where they are today. It’s not a
competition to them but rather their pleasure to be able to help upcoming entrepreneurs.
Thai Pop Owners: Ryan and Annie Balow
4 Third St SW, Rochester, MN 55902