Sep 20, 2021 - Business

Cureate offers free business courses to NWA food entrepreneurs

Illustration of a hundred dollar bill with Benjamin Franklin wearing a chef's hat.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Restaurateurs who want to make more cheddar may be in luck.

What's happening: Cureate, a business consulting company, is accepting applications from Northwest Arkansas food and beverage entrepreneurs. Business owners have a chance to take Cureate Courses — and receive two free business consultations.

  • The courses normally are available only as part of the company's coaching services and run from $20 to $125.
  • Cureate Courses help hospitality entrepreneurs earn more by diversifying revenue streams and growing new sales.

Driving the news: Some estimates put national restaurant failure rates as high as 80% within five years after opening. The pandemic has put additional pressure on the industry. In May, 90,000 restaurants across the U.S. had closed permanently or long-term.

  • About 113,000 people in Arkansas are employed in the leisure and hospitality industry, with about 28,000 in NWA.

Details: Ten businesses will participate in the 10-week program that begins in October. The online application closes Friday, Sept. 24.

  • Applicants can be anyone from a farmer looking to diversify income or food truck owners to brick-and-mortar restaurant operators.
  • Similar to a startup incubator program, participants will present ideas created during the courses in a pitch competition this fall. The winner will receive $5,000.
  • Judges aren't selected, yet. But Axios is told they will likely be a group of area investors, lenders and others with interest in the NWA food and beverage industry.

Context: CEO Kim Bryden relocated Cureate to NWA from Washington, D.C., this year as part of the Life Works Here program. The company is working with community loan fund, Forge Inc., to offer the courses at no cost.

  • A news release said program graduates saw a 20% increase in projected annual revenue.

What to watch: For entrepreneurs who miss this week's deadline, there are plans to duplicate the program in the spring.


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