Two SBDC classes help business owners tune up revenue engine

Do you already own a business, and see the need to tune up your revenue engine?

You might plan to attend either or both of a couple of classes that Small Business Development Center director Rick Leibowitz is teaching in Hood River on Saturday, Nov. 14.

He says the classes — “Financial Finesse” and “Increasing Your Bottom Line” — “are both designed for existing business owners.”

Get more details at the Facebook posting .


El Cuate Burgers & Tacos dishes … tacos & burgers, con mucho sabor

Ricardo Lopez and his wife, Lola, prepare the first orders at their food truck in the west end of the Hood River News parking lot.

Ricardo Lopez and his wife, Lola, prepare the first orders at their food truck in the west end of the Hood River News parking lot.

Ricardo Lopez is dishing up delish at the newest, semi-permanent home for his food truck — the west end of the Hood River News parking lot.

Lopez, who will serve a menu of burgers, fries and familiar Mexican lunch items — tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tortas — says his truck will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

cuate_signCustomers can choose marvelously seasoned beef, pork or chicken.

Lopez is grinding and shaping his own burger patties, and hand-cutting his French fries.

Lopez, who goes by the nickname Cuate, formerly cooked on the breakfast and dinner line at Nora’s Table Restaurant. Hence the name of his truck — El Cuate (The Twin) Burgers and Tacos.

In the same vein, visitors to the county fair food court may have encountered Lopez whipping out the tasties under his Burger Twin brand.


Because of city code for food trucks, siting is limited to six months in one location before the vehicle must find a new location (and that doesn’t mean driving forward for 6 inches).

Lopez has been exploring options for a more permanent site and would love to hear from anyone with a little spare asphalt, and a desire to share the traffic that will be generated by his savory menu. Call him at 541-400-9686.

One early visitor on El Cuate’s opening day Monday was Israel Ayala, a counselor with the Small Business Development Center at Columbia Gorge Community College. They met when Lopez was taking English language classes. Ayala  learned of Lopez’s food truck enterprise, offered startup assistance, and invited him to site his truck at a recent college-related Hispanic cultural event at the Hood River Indian Creek Campus.

“It was a hit,” Ayala said. “Everybody was loving the food.”

Taco, anyone?

Community Thanksgiving dinner needs volunteers, contributions

FISH Food Bank, Riverside Community Church and volunteers from around Hood River are teaming up to serve a free Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Riverside Community Church from 1 to 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 26.

Lead organizers Gean Rains and Deborah Chenoweth say much of the food has been donated already, including generous donations from Romul’s Restaurant, Provvista, Boda’s Kitchen and local farms. Cash donations will help purchase the remaining food needed to feed the estimated 400 dinner attendees.

The traditional Thanksgiving dinner will also include a Tofurky vegetarian option.

“For a $35 contribution, you can provide a complete, delicious Thanksgiving dinner to 10 people,” says Rains.

To contribute, send a check to Riverside Church, P O Box 656, Hood River, OR 97041 or by going to Thanksgiving In The Gorge on Facebook and or directly here to the Go Fund Me page. Any contributions that exceed this year’s needs will be donated directly to Fish Food Bank.

In addition to the dinner served at Riverside, volunteers will pack up dinners to deliver to people in their homes if they cannot come to the dinner downtown. “If you know of anyone who needs a home-delivered Thanksgiving dinner, please call, Chenoweth said.
“If you would like to help prepare food on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, or serve food and seat guests on Thanksgiving Day, we could really use your help!” says Chenoweth.

To volunteer or help with deliveries, please call Rains at 541-806-0900 or Chenoweth at 541-399-2384 or email .

The dinner is open to any and all people, from singles to entire families.

Cinchin’ up the lasso on a passel of tasty biz bits

Friends join Josue Martinez of Odell with the bike donated through Anson's Bike Buddies after his summer contributions through the Cascade Mountain School's Middle School Farm to Table Bike Camp.

Friends join Josue Martinez of Odell with the bike donated through Anson’s Bike Buddies after his summer contributions in the Cascade Mountain School’s Middle School Farm to Table Bike Camp.

Summer camp can be pretty darned fun by itself, but throw in a donated bicycle, and it becomes … awesome. Josue Martinez of Odell, a participant in the Middle School Farm to Table Bike Camp organized by the Cascade Mountain School, was the surprise recipient of the same bike he rode during camp, in honor of what the school’s Heidi Schmidgall said was his “authentic leadership style of compassion, integrity and hard work. He also expressed unending gratitude to many community members throughout the camp. In his community, Josue plays an incredibly active role, often volunteering his time to help others.” Martinez was chosen from 150 students who spend part of their summer learning science and outdoor adventure. The blue Motiv bike was refurbished by Anson’s Bike Buddies, in partnership with the school and St. Francis House, a non-profit organization based out of Odell. Anson’s Bike Buddies is a local non-profit working to “donate a bike-change a life,” to provide as many local youth with bikes as possible…


We like good news like that around the Buzz. Boy, has the news business changed. Former Mayor Arthur Babitz has been on a research project, driven by his discovery that a one-time publisher of a Hood River newspaper, Sloan Shutt, was himself one of the more colorful stories. Interested in learning more? You may want to attend the Gorge Owned Business Network’s “Sense of Place” lecture event on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Babitz will deliver the program, titled “A Fifty Year Trail of Ink: Newspapers, Boom Towns, and Mental Health in the Old West.” The event at the Columbia Center for the Arts starts at 6:30 p.m. In addition to his amateur historical research, Babitz maintains the popular local photoblog Historic Hood River.
Babitz will speak on Wednesday, November 4, at Columbia Center for the Arts. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the lecture begins at 7 p.m. Come early to enjoy a glass of wine or beer and meet others in the community. Gorge Owned’s (GO!) Sense of Place is an annual lecture series that seeks to foster a deeper understanding of and connection to our landscape and to one another.


From renters to owners, Abe and Amanda, proprietors at the popular Heights watering hole, the Volcanic Bottle Shoppe, have negotiated purchase of their building. How they want to take it to the next level, and have launched a crowd-funding effort via Indiegogo to get’r done. Click on the link to get the details and “perks” …


Deadline to apply for the Adult Gorge Soup event has been extended to Monday, Nov. 2. Gorge Soup is a crowd-applause event designed to give voice and audience to new business ideas. Adults present Nov. 17. Kids do their thing Feb. 26, 2016. And there’s a new twist, Gorge Soup for the Arts, which will stage in Spring 2016. Gorge Soup is a micro-philanthropy event where people buy tickets to come to a community soup dinner, prepared by Celilo restaurant. During the dinner, four to five community members speed-present their idea for a new business, nonprofit, or art project in the Gorge. At the end of the night, everyone at the dinner votes for their favorite ideas. The winner of the vote gets the ticket money. Get full details at the event web site. Or send questions by e-mail. …


Parks — the lack of them, or where to put them — occupy a lot of bandwidth in the Hood. The folks at the Hood River Residents Committee are hoping to push the notion to reality, on a parcel near Westside School. “We think a 20 acre property located at the corner of Fairview and Belmont could be just such a park,” wrote the group’s executive director, Heather Staten. Get details here. And share your views by way of a short online survey


Like wine? Like charity? Then give thanks, along with Gorge wineries, on Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 27-29. Nicole Backus of the Columbia Gorge Winegrowers Association says some of the group’s wineries will offer complimentary tasting in exchange for non-perishable food items, while others will donate proceeds from every bottle purchased or will give all tasting fees to a charitable organization.  Check out the CGWA website for complete details on specific winery offers.

New business filings, coming … soon?

OK, kids, here they come — last month’s new business filings and the person who filed, according to the state Corporations Divisions. As always, if you see your name and budding enterprise listed here, and want to share more info with Buzz readers, drop a note:

  • Columbia Gorge Company Dancers, Susan Sorenson
  • Specialty Rentals II, Kent Lambert
  • Aeroplane Services LLC, Stephanie Frank
  • Victory Lane Auto Detailing, Anthony Zarrella
  • Zero Waste Bloggers Network, Inge Ecterhoelter
  • Mountain Pose Yoga, Karin Guertin
  • Freedom Design Works, Tara Stewart
  • Hood River Structural Integration, Shannon Northreup
  • Croke’s Catering, Kari Croke
  • USASA Mt. Hood Series, Michael Fitzsimons
  • Kares, Todd Lingel
  • Sarah McDonnell LLC
  • Talkoot Inc.
  • Cuatro M Farms, Amy Marquez
  • Paul Aubert Orchards, Jeffrey Baker
  • Lucy Mason Life Coaching LLC
  • Beckman Legacy LLC, Levi Beckman
  • Before Decor
  • Bobbi’s Way In Home Health Care LLC, Kaleena Casey
  • Sivetz Coffee Company, Brian Graves
  • The Pros and Kaan, LLC
  • Gary Paasch Bikes LLC
  • Inspired Hospice Partners of Oregon, Jodi Goetcher
  • Bent Wireworks, Judy Larsen
  • Sao Noi LLC, Marnie Douangphoumy
  • The Tree Fruit LLC, Jeffrey Baker
  • Swift Proofreading Solutions, Jennifer Dubrow
  • Gibu LLC, Jason Taylor
  • Basecamp Holdings LLC, Corinne Collins




Hood River engineer creates simple tool to help travelers bridge cultural divide

Mark Zanmiller with his Small Planet Travel Cards.

Mark Zanmiller with his Small Planet Travel Cards.

Mark Zanmiller is an engineer, which to most of us suggests complexity, but to Zanmiller means he’s a “problem-solver.”

Makes sense, then, that he would imagine a solution when confronted with the common problem of putting key tools at the fingertips of travelers.

How do you say “Hello” in Thailand?

How do you say “Goodbye” in Kenya?

And how many schillings do you get for a dollar in Tanzania (1300 at last count).

Zanmiller was visiting Tanzania with his daughter Jordan a few years ago when he realized the need for a crib sheet.

“So I wrote some of the key phrases on the back of a business card,” he says.

From that simple act was born the concept for his new side business, Small Planet Travel Cards.

“I’ve traveled for pleasure and work for the last 13 years,” he says of the time he has worked for ANPC, Cloud Cap Technology and now SightLine Applications.

“I’m a language idiot, but I want to interface with people when I’m in their country.”

Country Packs contain cards to fill several needs.

Country Packs contain cards to fill several needs.

Through trial and error and a little of this and a little of that, Zanmiller has come up with an old-school tool that is way cool. No apps to download here, just pull the card from your pocket and convert currency, get basic cultural etiquette (in Kenya, dress conservatively and don’t eat or or greet with the left hand), learn how much to tip in different common circumstances (dining, taxi, bellhop), and quickly consult a dozen basic phrases.

“I kept nicking away at it for family and friends,” he recalls. “They would be taking a trip, and I’d make a card for them.”

Now he has a library of cards for 50 countries, and counting. He has fleshed out the product, and built small country packets that include two country cards, a note card, a metric converter, a pronunciation guide and information about Small Planet Travel Cards.

Zanmiller says he wasn’t sure if the cards were just a lovely hobby, or had real business potential. So when the Here & There Travel Fest popped onto his radar, Zanmiller rented booth space at the Oregon Convention Center — and went public Oct. 10-11.

As IPOs go, it was about as good as a start-up could ask.

“We had three people in the booth, and we were slammed,” he says. “Terry Richard from The Oregonian kept walking back and forth past us, then he came up and said, ‘You guys are doing better than the guys next door, and they’re giving samples of vodka.'”

Now there’s a tagline — Small Planet Travel Cards … better than vodka.

Zanmiller took the public response as incentive to push ahead. He’s pondering fun cards for special affinity groups. “There’s an endless number of cards you could do,” he says. “I want to go to Comicon and sell cards on how to speak Klingon and Vulcan.”

Selling direct to individual travelers is fine. He added a shopping cart to his web site on a recent Saturday, and had 10 orders by Sunday.

But Zanmiller sees bigger potential in selling custom-labeled quantities to travel service providers — cruises, hotels, museums. Imagine getting a Country Pack with your shampoo and shower cap the next time you check in.

He thinks he has tapped a niche to help casual travelers with limited time to spend in a destination country.

“It’s just deep enough to build a bridge with people,” Zanmiller says. “Once things open up, it’s wonderful.”



Dr. Kara Hobson opens new orthodontic practice

After 10 years of helping Portland patients align their smiles, Hood River resident Dr. Kara Hobson is bringing her orthodontic practice home — to new offices at 1700 12th St., Suite D.

Hobson’s Straightline Orthodontics will share space with North Oregon Endodontics and Oregon Periodontics, PC.

In a media release, Dr. Hobson said she takes great satisfaction in helping patients boost self-confidence by taking bringing teeth into proper alignment.

Straightline Orthodontics is a full-service practice, treating both pediatric and adult patients. Initial consultations are complimentary

Hobson studied at Santa Clara University and the University of Washington School of Dentistry before taking a General Practice Residency at the University of San Francisco and earning her Master of Science in Orthodontics at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.

Hobson and her staff will host a grand opening and open house at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

For more information, visit the Straightline website or call (541) 716-5032 to schedule an appointment.

CGCC trainings to help workers keep skills current

Columbia Gorge Community College is offering three trainings in the next few weeks to help workers keep themselves qualified for work opportunities.

  • Meeting and Process Facilitation workshop. 9 to noon, on Oct. 23, Nov, 20, and Dec. 11. This course is for teams, community volunteers, managers, supervisors, and anyone who wants to contribute to or lead productive, participatory meetings and processes. Cost is $130; advanced registration is required. Call Student Services at (541) 506-6011 or online .
  • Flagger certification course, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 15. This course covers the principles of traffic control. This course meets requirements for work in Oregon, Washington, Montana & Idaho. Cost is $89; advanced registration required. Call Student Services at (541) 506-6011 or online.
  • Pesticide Recertification/Worker Protection Standard course — 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 28 at the Hood River Indian Creek Campus, and 1 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 at The Dalles Campus. The class provides four core credit hours toward recertification of Oregon certified pesticide applicator licenses. Participants wishing to receive core credit hours must provide the required information to Department of Agriculture during class. The workshops are free. Pre-registration is required by calling the college at 541.506.6011, or online .