Wednesday, April 30, 2014

JJ's Red Hots, local beer vendors brew up top dogs

Recently, JJ's Red Hots and local breweries and bottlers had some fun touting the idea that hot dogs and beer go well together.

Through the seven-week "Brew Dogs" adventure, the group collaborated to create signature hot dogs, using beer as a key ingredient. JJ's locations in Dilworth and Ballantyne sold each signature dog and the creator's beer on tap for a week.

"The initial idea is 'We're a small business, you're a small business,'" says JJ's owner and co-founder Jon Luther. "They're creative people, we're creative people, let's come up with something and have fun with it." "...We have complementary products, and complementary customer bases, too. Their customers are our customers, and vice versa."

The top seller? The BeerBQ hotdog, inspired by Triple C Brewing Company. JJ's locations sold 237 of the dogs featuring pulled pork, crunchy onions and Triple C's smoked amber ale used for the BBQ sauce.

Here are the other beer ventures involved, along with their hotdog creations and numbers sold. And click here to see photos of all the dogs.

The Unknown Brewing Co., The Dog Without Boundaries, featuring beer cheese, bacon, Sriracha and fried okra (fried in batter made with their Over the Edge beer). 187 sold.

NoDa Brewing Co., DogMadChad, featuring bacon, grilled onion and peppers, sweet pickle chips and mustard made with NoDa Stout. 148 sold.

Charlotte Beer Blog (, Put That In Your Pipe, featuring bacon, smoked cheddar, red onion, smoked jalapeño ketchup. 140 sold.

The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Doppel Dog, featuring JJ's house-made bratwurst, copperkraut ( traditional sauerkraut steeped in OMB's Copper Ale and anise seed), beer mustard and fried jalapeños. 127 sold.

Good Bottle Co., Goodness Gracious, Great Dogs on Fire!, featuring chili, bacon, jalapeño and corn salsa, tabasco and Andy Capp hot fries (from the packaged snack). 94 sold.

Salud Beer Shop, La Dominicana, with plantain chips, onions, banana peppers and BBQ sauce. 80 sold.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Give these inexpensive employee perks a try

I recently came across this story on the Ragan Communications site about inexpensive ways to boost employee morale. Business publications love this story line, so sometimes the topic can be tired. But this one had some great examples, such as:

  • Sending flowers when an employee is sick.
  • Rewarding a job well done with a dinner for the employee and his/her spouse at a local fine restaurant. 
  • Having potluck cooking competitions and baby-picture contests. 
  • Offering employees bicycles to use. 
For more good examples, check out this story I wrote last year about giving employees a reason to stay. You'll hear the strategies of local small business owners who treat employees with everything from pedicures to gas cards to unlimited coffee year-round from the shop next door. 

And for the full story on, click here. It's worth a read! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

And the 2014 Family Business of the Year award goes to...

Charlotte-based Rose Chauffeured Transportation won 2014 Family Business of the Year in the medium-sized business division from the Wake Forest University Family Business Center.

H.A. Thompson and his son Andy have built the Rose name into the largest corporate ground transportation company in the Carolinas, according to Wake Forest. They grew the business from one car in 1985 to 53 today. 

Recipients will be recognized at the sixth annual awards celebration 6-8 p.m. May 8 at The Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road, Charlotte. 

To be nominated for the Family Business Awards, a business must have its headquarters in North Carolina. Businesses are evaluated based on innovative business strategies and practices, business growth and development, contributions to the community and industry, involvement by family members and generations, and commitment to family well-being. The nomination process is open from July to November each year.

Winners are named in four categories: century, large, medium and small. 

To nominate a family for the 2015 Family Business of The Year Award visit Deadline is Nov. 7 for nominations and Dec. 5 for applications. 

Want to go to the awards ceremony? Visit The Family Business Center website. Tickets are $125 each or six for $600.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brews news: NoDa Brewing Co.'s can design wins award

Let's be honest: NoDa Brewing Co. has some awesome beer cans.  And the Charlotte-based agency that designed them -- Saturday Brand Communications -- recently won a silver Addy Award in the "Packaging Campaign" category for it. (Also of note: On Friday, NoDa Brewing won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup for its Hop, Drop 'N Roll IPA. Seven other breweries in North Carolina won as well.)

Read more here:

Read more here:
Courtesy of Saturday Brand Communications

James Ward, creative director for Saturday, says the team wanted to tap into NoDa’s bohemian, artistic vibe for the designs, suggesting the kind of pop art seen in NoDa and capturing NoDa Brewing's personality.

Also important: Making designs you'd spot right away on shelves and in coolers.

Saturday Brand actually gave the trophy to NoDa Brewing owners Todd and Suzie Ford, so you can spot the trophy behind the bar.

Saturday also created the brewery's mobile-optimized website, which suggests where to find the brewer's beer near you. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Learn how to get international business opportunities

Staying Ahead Carolina and UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business are offering a global economic forum highlight international business opportunities for small and mid-sized businesses 2-5 p.m. April 4 at Crown Plaza Charlotte Executive Park, 5700 Westpark Drive. 

The event is free. To register, email Sabrina Brown: 

An expert panel will address demand, resources, challenges and support for overseas business, and there will be networking and exhibitors offering support to help local businesses make grow. 

The panel will include: Astrid Chirinos, president of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Charlotte; Jian Zhang, former president and board chair of the Carolinas Asian American Chamber of Commerce; Greg Sizemore, director of U.S. Commercial Services and U.S. Export Assistance Centers; John Norman, partner at Greer Walker, Global Services Unit, and Franz Kellermanns, a professor at the Belk College of Business and the forum moderator. 

Here's the agenda:

2 p.m. check-in and networking
2:30 p.m.: panel discussion with audience Q&A
4:30-5 p.m.: exhibits and networking

Staying Ahead Carolina, which focuses on current and emerging trends, has been a free resource to residents of the greater Charlotte region for about 10 years, sponsoring programs and networking events for the public. 

Charlotte Business Resources is a gold sponsor. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Entrepreneurs join the conversation at ShopTalk's mix-and-mingle event

People who run or hope to run their own business get tips for success at the ShopTalk networking event on Monday. JEFF WILLHELM -

More than 120 entrepreneurs attended the ShopTalk networking event on Monday, March 31, at NoDa Brewing Co.

Attendees joined the conversation by tweeting us at #shoptalkclt. Check that out here.

And watch this video by Observer photographer Jeff Willhelm for a recap of tips presented at the event: