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MADE Winners - Food & Beverage Category

By Staff Reports, posted Mar 1, 2019

Tama Tea

Year founded:
Number of employees: 20
Top official: Rocco Quaranto, Wells Struble, Kelly Struble (all co-founders)
Company description: “We are a tea and coffee cafe focused on bringing a tea product to customers in a small coffee shop environment. Our new sparkling tea line came from our love of all things sparkling and tea.”
Company growth: “In 2015 we opened our flagship location in The Forum in Wilmington as a simple tea shop with light toasts and bites. We quickly realized that we needed more meat on the bone and started growing our food menu. We opened new locations under the new banner, Tama Café, and partnered with local Counter Culture coffee to have a complete espresso/coffee offering at those two locations … We began working on our Sparkling Tea line in November 2017 as we stumbled upon carbonating one of our teas and saw hope for a new product … We officially launched the product the week of Jan. 25 and have seen amazing customer feedback. We are already carried in multiple retailers in Wilmington like Tidal Creek, Lighthouse Beer and Wine, Epic Food Co, Axis Yoga/Fitness and more signing up this week!”
What are your future goals for the product? “Our plan for the cafe is to slowly grow and open more locations in the region … On our canned Sparkling Tea line we have already started discussions with small and larger distributors who are interested in carrying the product.”  


Panacea Brewing Co.

Year founded:
Number of employees: 7
Top official: Artie and Robin Hill, co-owners
Company description: “Artisan kombucha brewery located in Wilmington, featuring locally grown flavorings and all organic teas.”
Company growth: “Our company has increased production from 20 to 2,600 gallons per week. We started in an incubator kitchen and now have our own commercial brewery debt free. We opened with two owner/employees and now both partners work the business alongside five other employees.”
How did you originally come up with the concept of your product? “We fell in love with kombucha, bought a VW bus and took off towards the horizon dreaming of selling our booch at local farmers markets. Nothing has unfolded the way expected, in fact, everything has been better than we ever dreamed.”
What are your future goals for the product? “Looking forward, we will be moving into a larger retail location and expanding our wholesale distribution footprint. We also are now producing alcoholic kombucha beer, which should be ready for market in spring 2019 along with our single-use kombucha bottles. We’re currently testing recipes for fermented foods to expand our product line in summer 2019.”  


Louie’s Hot Dogs

Year founded:
Number of employees: 4
Top official: Mary Garner, owner/operator
Company description: “Fast-paced take-out hot dog establishment, serving 100 percent beef, veggie (vegan), fat free turkey dogs, mild and spicy sausages, pork barbecue and chicken salad, all served on a steamed split-top hot dog bun.”
Target market: “Locals throughout the tri-county area as well as tourists visiting beautiful Wilmington from all over the country.”
Company growth: “I purchased Louie’s Hot Dogs in 2000, 11 years after its inception in 1989. I built this biz up for eight years, then sold it in 2008. The recession affected Louie’s, and the biz was doomed, so I bought it back in 2015 and built it up quickly. I simply put a sign out saying, ‘Mary Is Back!’”
How has your product helped impact the region’s economic development? “I contribute free hot dogs to many charitable organizations including churches and schools.”
What are your future goals for the product? “Late Night Louie’s! We are installing a new “Take Out” window to allow customers to grab dogs on Friday and Saturday evenings from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. from the sidewalk. Also looking into purchasing a food truck.” 

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