We had the good fortune of connecting with Mallory Garneau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mallory, how does your business help the community or world?
FoCo Cafe is Northern Colorado’s first and only non-profit restaurant whos mission is to build community through providing delicious and nutritious meals to all people regardless of the ability to pay while using mostly local, organic, sustainably grown ingredients. We believe that everyone needs a hand up at some point in their life, and that community centered spaces can provide great benefits to different areas of life, therefore we do not require you to qualify for our services based off the traditional guidelines. Instead, we welcome all people to join us and contribute in different ways for their meals. If they cannot pay, volunteerism or food donations are accepted. Through COVID, we have seen food security become an even bigger problem than it was before, therefore we have seen an increased need for this kind of service. We hope to see more and more similar models pop up around the country, as the traditional models of soup kitchens and food banks have supported those in need but has not made progress in solving the larger problem of food security and supporting the local food economy. I believe that a model that includes and involves those who are being served is critical to its success. To invite everyone to be a part of the solution.
Please tell us more about your career. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Being a young executive director of a small nonprofit is tough work but the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It is still crazy to think back when I was offered the position and know that people believed in me so much that they trusted me to carry this organization forward. I had little business experience but had my Masters in Social Work and lot of experience in restaurants, this made certain aspects such as being acting treasurer, a bit harder than others. I have been in this role for over 3 years now and I never stop learning and growing. Having a strong professional and personal support system is a hug factor in my successes. Without them, I’m not sure I could have done it. Another important aspect of what I do is how I do it. I studied Sustainable Community Engagement in South Africa in 2012 where I learned that no real lasting community change can happen without involving those being served. With this concept in mind in all I do, I tend to make decisions collaboratively and always work to expand the audience of those involved. We are all in this together and in order for it to work, we all have to find our part. At FoCo Cafe, we try to offer a platform for people to do just that and I couldn’t be more in love with the work we do.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I always make sure to introduce my guests to the FoCo Cafe of course. I will take them to lunch one day and explain the concept while we enjoy lunch. Beyond that, I would take them to get some good eats at places like Penrose, 415, Tasty Harmony, Nicks italian, Paninos, and Cafe De Bangkok. A trip to Northern Colorado is never complete without a few Brewery tours or Brewery hopping at places like Odells, New Belgium, Maxline, Zweii and all the others. Outdoor activities especially in the summer are not hard to come by. Stand Up Paddle boarding on Horsetooth, Rafting on the Poudre river, and Hiking Lory State park are all musts. I love all that Northern Colorado and Fort Collins has to offer!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for countless people. Those that supported me and believed in me as a new, young, executive director are some of the most prominent. These inlcude Kathleen and Jeff Baumgardner (FoCo Cafe Co-Founders), Curt Bear and my LoCo Think Tank group, and volunteers that carried alot of weight like Barb Janssen, Sari Kimbell and David Pinto.
Brenda Saint Photography – phone with peacock wreath