Tropicali Fruit brings popular antojito street food to Heights

Alejandra Ruvalcabo, Diana Hernandez, Sylvia Delgadillo, and Terry Boyd take a break from preparing antojitos at Tropicali Fruit.

Alejandra Ruvalcabo, Diana Hernandez, Sylvia Delgadillo, and Terry Boyd take a break from preparing antojitos at Tropicali Fruit.

Visitors to Mexico discover quickly that there’s more to the cuisine than tacos. One category much-loved by Mexicans but perhaps a bit new to non-natives is antojitos, a type of street food that literally means “little cravings.”

People new to antojitos might call them snacks on steroids.

Sylvia Delgadillo has been concocting the treats for several years, first out of Juanita’s Marketa, then for the last year in Odell, and now she has opened a shop on the Heights, on 12th street just north of the Mesquitery.

It’s called Tropicali Fruit, an homage to the flavors and Delgadillo’s home town of Merced, Calif.

Flavors range all over the map, from their chicharron (based on fried pork rinds), to the Fresas con Crema (“We sell a lot”), which includes a house-made yogurt cream, papaya, mango, melon, banana, strawberries, apple, granola, coconut, raisins and pecans.

Hours will expand in the summer, but for now, Tropicali Fruit is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.


GO! business plan competition puts emphasis on community response

Nicole Bassett is just the sort of entrepreneur the folks at Gorge Owned! had in mind when they cooked up their first Local Business Plan Competition to help celebrate Earth Day.

Bassett is an early entrant, but probably won’t be the only one by the time signups close April 3.

The competition is open to new and existing businesses, but the key thing is that they have to demonstrate a commitment to triple-bottom-line thinking — a balance of regard for the environment, the economy and the community.

Scale is key, as well. GO! is looking for entries from little guys, with annual revenues of less than $250,000.

Bassett, who consults on sustainability issues, is preparing to launch a new business called (re)make. It’s designed to help people who produce and market something take the used product back and recycle or re-use it.

“It’s like the operations in the used car business, where they buy them back, go through them, improve them for resale,” Bassett says. “(re)make is designed to serve brands that aren’t capturing the full value of their products.”

She’s hoping to first run a pilot project with interested companies. She’s focused first on clothing companies. “We’re responding to the fact that there’s a lot of value in textiles,” she says.

Bassett and other entrants in the competition will first submit business plans. A committee of local business experts will winnow the pile down to five finalists, who will make oral presentations from 6 to 8 p.m. April 23 at the Pint Shack (on Third) in Hood River.

This is where the rest of us come in. We get to listen, and select the top three candidates through a simple paper vote. The winning candidates will then be eligible to apply for a business loan up to $5,000 through GO!’s partners at the Kiva Zip program.

Kiva Zip is a not-for-profit micro enterprise lending program that pairs its funds with investment commitments generated by applicant businesses through the crowdfunding model.

Interested? Apply through a form at the GO! website.

NY Times lager tasters like Full Sail Session best of all

As we approach electrolyte replacement season. reviewer Eric Asimov and a team of tasters from the New York Times recently sampled, compared and rated 20 American lagers. Guess which came out on top? OK, you win — good job reading the headline. The review says: “None did it better than our No. 1 brew, Session Premium Lager from Full Sail Brewing, clean, crisp, lively and fresh.” Tasty. I’ll have one.

Innoventure workshop will help tourism businesses balance books

Some businesses do pretty well all year round: funeral homes, gas stations, grocery stores.

Others depend on a flow of visitors looking for distinctive, experiential purchasing options: restaurants, art galleries, boutique clothing stores.

The people in that latter category ride a wave of up and down revenues — high in the summer, low in the winter. The holy grail for them is a steady, year-round flow of visitors.

Dozens of people, at the Chamber and Visitor Council and related organizations, have worked to boost traffic in those slower months.

Now comes Gorve Innoventure, with a Brown Bag Workshop at noon Wednesday, March 11, on the topic of “Making a Tourist Economy
More Sustainable Year Round.”

The program from noon to 1 p.m. features Angie DeRouchie, of Success Pacific. She will talk about four proven “protocols that tourist and seasonal businesses can implement to provide more consistent, year-round budget and production.”

DeRouchie will also offer two specific strategies tourist-based businesses can implement quickly before the visitor season of 2015 kicks into high gear.

Go here to register. Cost is $5 for non-members.

Feast of Words to raise funds for Georgiana Smith Park upgrades

Cleaning out the inbox, and wanted to remind lovers of our library that the annual Library Foundation fund-raiser, Feast of Words, is tomorrow night, Saturday, March 7, at the library.

It runs from 6 to 9 pm. and features savory appetizers and desserts, local beer and wine, a live band and silent and live auctions.

Funds raised from the event will help refurbish the Georgiana Smith Library Gardens — new plantings, repaired irrigation system, new furniture and other spruce-ups.

Tickets to the event are $25. Kids get in free and will find fun activity in the children’s library. For tickets, contact Heather Staten at 541-490-5225.

Habitat offers information, seeks applicants for new homes

If you dream of owning your own home, but have found the dream elusive to reach, you may want to attend one of three forthcoming informational events planned by Columbia Gorge Habitat for Humanity.

Candidates have the means to make monthly payments, but invest time and energy to create sweat equity investment in a new home constructed with the help of volunteer labor. Collaborative efforts in the Gorge have led to construction of 23 homes during Habitat’s tenure in the Gorge.

Info events and application forms will be available:

  • Sunday March 15, 2 p.m., Mid-Columbia Fire Station, 1400 W 8th Street, The Dalles
  • Tuesday March 17, 6 p.m., Westside Fire Hall, 1185 Tucker Road, Hood River
  • Sunday March 22. 2 Lyle Fire Hall, 514 Washington, Lyle, WA

For more information, visit the Habitat website, send e-mail, or call 541-296-8817.

Seminar series will help employers create high-performance workplaces

Take one, or take them all, but people and organizations looking to optimize performance and employee engagement might want to ponder the lineup of seminars to be led by consultants Marge & Mike Cieri of
Mardac Consultants.

The series, Create a High Performance Workplace 2015, is sponsored and organized by Columbia Gorge Community College. Each event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays at the Hood River Indian Creek Campus starting April 14.

Cost for the entire series is $725. Want just one? It’ll be $95. Contact Suzanne Burd at (541) 506-6011 to register. Here’s the lineup:

  • 4/14 — Emotional Intelligence — Handle your own emotions and the reactions of others.
    5/12 — Problem Solving & Decision Making — Address issues strategically and make suitable decisions.
    6/9 — Recruitment, Interviewing, and On-Boarding — Attract good candidates, hire the best fit and start on a
    positive note.
    7/14 — Managing Day-to-Day Performance — Identify performance gaps for improved productivity.
    8/11 — Holding Employees & Others Accountable — Help each person on your team do their job well.
    9/8 — Coaching and Giving & Receiving Feedback — Fine-tune important coaching and feedback skills.
    10/13 — Managing Diversity in the Workplace — Develop strategies to capitalize on diversity as an asset in
    your work group.
    11/10 — Working with Difficult People Respond constructively to people you find difficult.
    12/8 — Team Development for Greater Productivity — Increase collaboration to achieve company objectives.

OSU, CGCC partner to create online internship hub

Oregon State University’s Open Campus program and Columbia Gorge Community College are collaborating to create an online networking site for companies offering internships, and students hoping to secure those real-world work experiences.

Ann Harris, the Open Campus Coordinator for OSU in the Gorge, said the initiative grew out of the Gorge Education and Industry Summit at CGCC last spring.

A committee that grew out of that event has been working to launch the website.

“It is our intention that this site will become the central “go-to” location for students seeking internships and will greatly help businesses in getting the word out,” Harris said.

She asked that businesses with internship opportunities or interest contact her about joining the network.