Ana Valdemoros has been an ex-oficio member of Salt Lake City’s Business Advisory Board since 2015.
Ana started her career in city planning with Salt Lake City, where she worked in various master plans and projects in the West Side of the City, including the North Temple Grand Boulevard plan in anticipation of the Airport TRAX line that opened on 2011. She then turned her experience to working for the non-profit NeighborWorks. In that capacity, in the economic development line of business she worked closely with the River District Chamber /(formerly know as the Business Alliance), SLCRDA and business owners in the area.
When Ana first graduated from college she spent her summer selling empanadas through a grassroots process (at Salt Lake City’s Farmer’s Market). Once established, Ana was able to open the downtown business “Argentina’s Best Empanadas” in July 2016 selling empanadas filled with locally and sustainably grown ingredients.
From starting a food business and preparing her product at rented commercial kitchens, Ana quickly realized there was a need for a commercially sized kitchen, where products could be made at a larger scale, faster and provide business resources for those startups that may need it. And as the idea kept simmering in her mind, and with the help of a business partner, they saw the need for an incubator kitchen, and worked for years to co-found Square Kitchen located at 751 W 800 S SLC in the fringe of the Poplar Grove neighborhood and Granary District, in District 2 which opened its doors in the Spring of 2018.
Square Kitchen was created to provide affordable commercial cooking space and foster food business opportunities for all food entrepreneurs. It’s a place where culinary talent can create, innovate and thrive in the food business world. Ana says, “As a city planner, my passion is to build community, to make neighborhoods better, and how could you not do that, this time through food?”
Thank you Ana for bringing your unique perspective and enthusiasm to Salt Lake City!
Q&A with Ana Valdemoros
|What are you most excited about with SLC’s growth?||I feel that there’s this overwhelming spur of growth and diversity in the City in housing, population, food, thought, etc, which slowly started a few years back, and now it’s here, booming. And because it’s here, it is time for all of us to step up our game, create, innovate while keeping our sense of community. Being part of this, is what it’s so exciting.|
|What changes would you like to see happen in SLC?||Not directly business related. But with the housing booming all around town, can we all vote for more creative design, style and color choices for all of these similar looking apartment buildings popping up everywhere?|
|What is your favorite “Third Place” to hang out in SLC?||Does all of Downtown count? The streets of Downtown, are my favorite hang out place. There’s a certain charm about them. Anytime I can get food at a walking distance, or grab a greenBike to get to a place downtown, is a very enjoyable time for me, and my favorite part of living in the City.|
|What do small businesses in Salt Lake City need more help with?||Funding sources. Funders can be less adventurous sometimes, with certain types of business, and that may be preventing great innovative ideas out there from actually happening.|
|What is Salt Lake City doing right for business?||The creation of a more robust Economic Development team is what the City is doing right. This line of business is crucial for a fast growing City like ours. We’re the capital city and need to be prepared, be proactive and plan for it’s economic prosperity.|
|What do you think the #1 challenge is facing someone who is opening a restaurant in SLC?||I believe it is the high construction costs. From high cost of kitchen equipment, to building improvements, make it cost prohibitive for many. The alternative is to move into a preexisting restaurant space, which high leases may also kill the deal.|
|What is the first word or words that come to mind when you think of Salt Lake City?||Prosperity. Improvement.|
|Anything else you would like to add?||I am super enthusiastic about the future of SLC. I have lived here for 18 years, and oh boy, has it changed. The work of many in the local government, non profit world and private sector is undeniable and encouraging to keep doing our thing, and working always towards the improvement of our community. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 18 years.|
About the Business Advisory Board:
The Business Advisory Board (BAB) is made up of city business owners and community leaders who partner with Salt Lake City’s Department of Economic Development. Its members are appointed by the mayor and must be SLC residents and/or have ownership interest in a Salt Lake City business. BAB helps direct city economic policy, promotes small business growth, supports local entrepreneurs, and encourages businesses to relocate to our city.
As part of an ongoing effort to keep SLC’s business community in the loop, the BAB shares synopses of monthly meetings on the Salt Lake City Economic Development’s blog page. Recordings are available to the public as well.