By Amanda Kuhnert
Matt Lewis doesn’t shy away from new challenges. In fact, he embraces them. “If someone else can do it, I figure I can do it too,” he said. “I do my very best to learn everything I can.” His career includes stints as a carpenter, rock-climbing gym manager, sailing instructor, and most recently a consultant for AT&T. In June of this year, he added business owner to the list when he and his wife Carrie purchased Gourmet Provence, a bakery on Center Street in Brandon, where they’ve lived for a decade.
The former owners, Robert and Line Barral, who also own Café Provence in town, were looking to sell and Matt had a vision. “Part of my confidence to buy the business came from our friends who own Red Clover Ale Company next door,” he said. “Red Clover has added soul and energy to our town, and I had a vision to create a similar vibe for the morning patrons at the bakery— a community atmosphere where people can come together and chat.”
He and Carrie saw an opportunity to provide something else—a place in the village to grab a bite to eat after hours. Adding wood-fired pizza to the bakery’s offerings would give Red Clover patrons a new dinner option—the brewery doesn’t sell food on a regular basis.
Taking the plunge
The couple felt confident in their idea, but the purchasing process was more complex. “Buying the business and trying to decipher the financials from two intertwined businesses was more of a challenge than expected,” Matt said.
Bill Moore, Brandon’s economic development/town manager, recommended that Matt reach out to Nancy Shuttleworth, an advisor with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) for guidance. “Numbers aren’t really my forte,” Matt said. “Nancy helped to organize the numbers and allowed me to visualize what this venture may look like.”
Although there were still some question marks, Matt and Carrie decided to go for it. “Once we got in there and started working, it all just came together.” Matt said. “It’s been a whirlwind—a lot of learning but most importantly, a lot of fun. The best part is meeting so many new people in the community and getting lots of support and encouragement from them.”
Right now he and Carrie are focused on the winter months ahead. “We’re working toward keeping our staff employed and happy through the slower winter months,” Matt said. “Increasing revenue and continuing with making slow and steady changes is our goal moving forward.”
Matt hopes to get the new pizza oven up and running soon. “Every day we’re moving closer and closer to where we want to be,” he said.
For more info: gourmetprovencevt.com.
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