TABLE OF CONTENTS
Saving Green: The Benefits of Sustainable Packaging
Safe Food Alliance
Are You Depositing Salary Deferrals on Time?
Derrin Gibbs Industrial Services
Whole Foods Risks a Lot in Amazon Prime Deals
Creating a Culture of Safety
Intro to Produce Safety
Review: New Local Restaurant is Hit and Miss
Doughnuts to Die For
Saving Green: The Benefits of Sustainable Packaging
In the 1980s, environmental awareness began to shift from a hippy endeavor to something more mainstream. I remember being transfixed by a Saturday morning Public Service Announcement (PSA) where the participant caught water from a leaking faucet in a large bucket. I don’t recall how many gallons we could save by fixing that faucet, but I vividly remember how large and heavy those buckets appeared, and how compelled I felt to save water. I now understand that environmental issues such as water conservation are far more complicated than the PSA implied, but what that announcement did was give me a place to start. Current discussions of global warming, waste disposal, and the depletion of our natural resources can make finding solutions overwhelming, especially when considering large scale changes in production and manufacturing. So consider this article my PSA to encourage you and your company to contemplate making one change: adopt sustainable, low-waste packaging.
It is one thing to watch a slick video on social media about biodegradable made-from-avocado-seed cutlery, and something completely different to manufacture it. Yes, updating your packaging to something more ecofriendly will cost money. However, evidence shows that the change will likely benefit your company in both monetary and non-financial ways.
Right now green is big, and issues of global warming and waste management aren’t just for politicians. Eco-friendliness should become part of your company’s entire identity – your ethos. A 2017 study of 1,000 Americans revealed that corporate social responsibility does impact buying patterns. In fact, 88% of those surveyed said they would be more loyal to a socially and environmentally responsible company, and “87% would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity” (Butler, 2018). But it’s not just about lip service. Adam Butler of Forbes emphasized the importance of following up on your marketing claims with visible and measurable actions. Revisiting your packaging processes is one such solution.
Now you may be thinking, “Our packaging is already recyclable. Isn’t that enough?” It’s a start, but no; it is not enough. Recycling practices are far more complicated than most people realize, and many consumers do not know the appropriate ways to recycle. Recent tariff shifts in China have also changed the US’s recycling norms because we can no longer ship plastics there en masse. And research shows that knowing something is recyclable tends to make people more wasteful of the product, as NPR host Rachel Martin discovered when she interviewed Shankar Vedantam of Byline. For example, consumers are likely to grab more napkins than necessary without feeling guilty because they believe that any unused napkins can be recycled. While there may be some truth in this logic, we must consider packaging and product options that are truly sustainable and low-waste. That way, if consumers are wasteful, the ecological impact is lessened. In addition, companies can market their eco-friendliness to build their ethos and remind consumers to be less wasteful, which will save the company precious resources.
There are many different ways your company can transition to sustainable packaging, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. However, here are a few options that are easily researched and that are already being adopted by other companies. Bioplastics “are completely or partially biobased and are therefore biodegradable to some degree. Bioplastics are materials in which all the carbon is derived from various renewable natural sources including sugarcane, potatoes, seashells, corn, starch and bacteria.” According to Scott Pala at PackCon, benefits of bioplastics include replacing some of the 11% of our annual plastic waste with products that are more biodegradable, save energy during production, and reduce our carbon footprint. Unfortunately, if consumers improperly dispose of these products, as they often do, the bioplastics will end up in landfills with traditional plastics.
The more popular trend involves developing packaging that utilizes source materials and produces waste that are sustainable. In his exploration of sustainable packaging, Karl Deily of Sealed Air provides some helpful definitions:
“Renewable packaging is produced from renewable ingredients such as fiber, starch or sugar cane. Biodegradable packaging is organic material that can be broken down into carbon dioxide, water and other simple organic molecules within a couple of months.”
As with bioplastics, adopting renewable or biodegradable packaging is a complicated decision that depends on your product, your consumers’ needs, and your production levels. Organic materials have historically been too porous to support long term shelf life, but new plant-based resins are solving this problem and are worth considering. Renewable packaging can shift agricultural demands on specific crops. This shift may help reduce agricultural waste, but it may also hurt certain crop producers. It is too early to predict these effects. However, both renewable and biodegradable packaging reduce our carbon footprint, decrease waste, and often increase profits.
Change is hard, but without adopting changes our businesses grow stagnant. Not only can adopting sustainable packaging help the environment, but it can develop your company’s reputation as increasingly trustworthy and conscientious. It is a bit more complicated than fixing a dripping faucet, but with environmental and monetary benefits, I believe the change is worth considering.
Bioplastics companies. (n.d.) Bioplastics News. https://bioplasticsnews.com/bioplastics-companies/
Butler, Adam. (Nov. 21, 2018). Do customers really care about your environmental impact? Forbes.
Deily, Karl. (Nov. 15, 2018). The whole package: Is ‘sustainable packaging’ another buzz word, or can it actually cut
waste? Green Biz. https://www.greenbiz.com/article/whole-package-sustainable-packaging-another-
McTigue Pierce, Lisa. (March 13, 2019). Interest in reusable packaging swells. Packaging Digest.
Where will your plastic trash go now that China doesn’t want it? All Things Considered. NPR. https://www.npr.org
Why recycling options lead people to waste more. (June 2, 2017). Morning Edition. NPR. https://www.npr.org
Safe Food Alliance
Katie Edwards is the Senior Marketing Manager at Safe Food Alliance. She began her tenure there as a communications specialist almost seven years ago. After completing her BA in Marketing at University of the Pacific, Stockton, she returned to her agricultural roots to join Safe Food Alliance (SFA). At that time, the company was known as DFA, Dried Fruit Association, and Katie has been a part of their growth throughout their transition.
Katie is a local girl who grew up on a cattle ranch in Shingle Springs, CA, and she is truly passionate about her work. Although no longer running cattle, her firsthand knowledge of agriculture gives her credibility as she promotes SFA’s mission of finding solutions to make safe food possible. And SFA has made great strides to make this goal possible.
Founded in 1908 as DFA, Safe Food Alliance has expanded from their home office in Sacramento, CA to create a lab and training center in Kingsburg, CA. The lab is focused on four main areas of study: microbiology, microtoxins (found in tree nuts), pesticide testing, and water testing. The research conducted there helps growers and processors ensure their products meet local and federal regulations, and align with applicable safety rules.
SFA also has a subsidiary focused on training: Safe Food Certifications (SFC). This arm of the SFA both trains and audits companies to ensure they can meet safety standards. Trainers help agricultural leaders create schemes, which are like business plans for safety processes. If the companies so desire, SFC also functions as a third party certifier for audits. Their experts will come in and assess the company’s current and revised safety protocols.
So what’s next for SFA? Katie says they want to expand into new markets, like growers, packers, and retailers, in order to continue improving safety standards that also meet new federal regulations affecting agriculture. They have also been transitioning some of their trainings from face-to-face to an online asynchronous format. Katie says this is to meet a growing interest for self paced courses. SFA and SFC have come a long way from their original focus on dried fruit, and they plan to further their growth to continue making a positive impact on food safety.
Are You Depositing Salary Deferrals On Time?
By design 401 (k) plans allow employees to share in building their retirement nest egg. Plan participants can elect to defer receipt of a portion of their pay. To protect participants’ contributions, these “salary deferrals” are subject to special rules regarding when they must be deposited to the plan. One of your most important duties as the plan sponsor is to make sure these salary deferrals are deposited promptly in compliance with the deposit timing rules.
It is important to know when the rules apply.
The Rule: Timing Deposits
Department of Labor (DOL) rules provide that you must deposit salary deferrals to the plan on the earliest date that the deferrals can reasonably be segregated from your company’s general assets. This means deposits must be made ASAP! For smaller companies, the “earliest date” could be within a few days of payroll, while larger companies with multiple locations may take longer. Under no circumstances may salary deferrals be deposited later than the 15th business day of the month following payroll. However, be careful using the 15-day limit! If your facts and circumstances show that you can make the deposit on an earlier date, then you must deposit salary deferrals by that earlier date to be considered deposited timely!
To help you comply with the deposit timing rules, the DOL offers a “safe harbor.” If your plan has less than 100 participants, your deposit is considered timely if it is made within 7 business days after payroll, even if you were able to deposit salary deferrals earlier. If you don’t deposit salary deferrals within 7 business days after you withhold them, or if your plan has 100 or more participants, to comply with the timing rules you will need to demonstrate that deferrals were deposited as soon as reasonably possible.
The Problem: Late Deposits
Failure to timely deposit salary deferrals results results in a breach of your fiduciary duty as well as a prohibited transaction between you and the plan, requiring you to pay the IRS a 15% excise tax each year the error is not fully corrected. To make up for salary deferrals not being invested timely, you must deposit “lost earnings” for all affected participants. Late deposits must be reported on the plan’s Form 5500 Return. And, if the plan document states a deposit timeframe that hasn’t been followed, the plan’s tax-qualified status could be at risk.
Solutions: Required Actions & Optional Programs
Required Corrective Actions
1. Get caught up and deposit all late salary deferrals.
2. Deposit lost earnings. We can work with you and your Third Party Administrator (TPA) to determine how
much “lost earnings” need to be deposited.
3. Report late deposits on the plan’s annual return, Form 5500, until fully corrected.
4. Pay a 15% excise tax with Form 5330 each year the late deposit is not fully corrected.
Optional Correction Programs
#1 In exchange for filing under the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program, the DOL will not assess a civil
penalty on the deposit error.
#2 Deposits that don’t comply with a plan’s terms can be corrected under the IRS’ Employee Plans Compliance
Failure to comply with the deposit timing rules can be costly. Please contact us for more information on how we can help you review your procedures for depositing salary deferrals and correct any deficiencies in the process. Despite your best efforts, mistakes happen. Notify us of any late deposits ASAP so we can work together to fully correct the problem and make use of the IRS and/or DOL correction programs.
About the Author
Martin McCann is president of McCann Asset Manager and is a practicing financial advisor in Fresno, California. He focuses on retirement plans and wealth management for business owners and individuals, and is wildly passionate about delivering long-term, “guaranteed-for-life”, income streams to his clients in retirement. Over the years, Martin has developed and discovered and discovered systems that work together to help keep group retirement plans in order. In working with Martin, clients have gained assistance in offsetting fiduciary responsibility, enrollments and participant servicing, education of investment committees and employees, and periodic plan reviews to make sure plan sponsors and participants are getting the most out of your group retirement plan.
Martin can be reached at (559) 400-6520 or Martin@McCannAM.com
Visit the McCann Asset Management web site at http://www.McCannAM.com
Registered Representative of and securities offered through OneAmerica Securities, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor, 1525 E. Shaw Ave, Suite 201, Fresno, CA 93710. 559-226-4546. Insurance Representative of American United Life Insurance Company®(AUL) and other insurance companies. McCann Asset Management is not an affiliate of OneAmerica Securities, Inc. or AUL and is not a Broker-Dealer or Registered Investment Advisor. Provided content is for overview and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be relied upon as individualized tax, legal, fiduciary, or investment advice. Investing involves risk which includes potential loss of principal. Guarantees are subject to the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company.
Derrin Gibbs Industrial Services
Derrin Gibbs, owner of Derrin Gibbs Industrial Services, is a lifetime expert in the industrial field. Gibbs had almost sixteen years of experience in industrial supplies before starting his own company in June, 2013. Now Derrin Gibbs Industrial Services (DGIS) provides equipment service repair to fabrication, manufacturing, maintenance, and construction businesses throughout California’s San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast.
The employees at DGIS understand that you need your equipment to run smoothly, and they are committed to providing excellent service in a timely manner. Their team of professionals have a combined 120 years of experience in welder, air tool, torch, and regulator repair. Gibbs and his team know what experts in your industry need in order to be successful, and they will work with you to find solutions that best fit your business’s needs.
Whether a vital piece of equipment is down or you have a piece of older equipment collecting dust in the corner, DGIS wants to help get it–and your business–fully functioning again. They will service the following parts through pick up or delivery:
- Welding equipment
- Plasma cutters
- Air tools
- Torch, regulator, and flow meters
DGIS will also provide cutting tool and cold saw blade sharpening at a fraction of their competitor’s cost.
Whole Foods Risks a Lot in Amazon Prime Deals
At first glance, linking Whole Foods with Amazon Prime seems like a match made by the gods; but a closer look reveals some complicated ethical issues that current fact-driven articles aren’t addressing. Business decision-making is complex and difficult, which is why it is important to look critically at and learn from examples like this one.
Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017, and in early April 2019 the high-end grocery chain announced substantial price cuts for Amazon Prime members. This announcement was met with skepticism because Whole Foods had made claims of general price drops not long ago, but had not provided much evidence of the change. This questionable past led New York Times reporters Zach Wichter and Karen Weise to do some price comparisons. What they found was not impressive: “The total order, including taxes and the suggested $5 tip, fell to $58.60 from $60.10, a 2.5 percent savings. The two-hour Prime Now delivery service — and the $2 off organic strawberries — are available only to Prime members, whom Amazon courts heavily because they spend far more” (Wichter & Weise). Clearly, these shoppers did not see the 20% average savings Whole Foods has touted.
The real benefits seem to come to Amazon who is developing what Tony Garcia of Marketwatch calls a Costco-like relationship with various customers, including Whole Foods. “Just 11 percent of Prime members shop at Whole Foods several times a month, according to a recent survey by Wolfe Research. Part of Amazon’s goal for buying Whole Foods in 2017 was to get more Prime members buying fresh groceries from the company, since it is one of the retail categories that Amazon has failed to successfully crack despite a decade of attempts” (Del Rey). Again, the marriage seems like a win-win: Whole Foods gets more customers, Amazon taps into a difficult niche, and customers get good food at a lower price. But things don’t always work out as planned.
The deal for Amazon Prime members should have attracted new customers via two routes: rebranding Whole Foods as more affordable, and promoting Whole Foods savings as an exclusive members only perk. Yes, these two routes are making food more affordable, and making savings more exclusive. Am I the only one who finds this troubling? These opposing routes combined with the questionable savings claims lead me to label Whole Foods’s recent choices as unethical.
It is understandable why Whole Foods would want to rebrand themselves as financially accessible. They have a longstanding reputation for being expensive, so much so that the store has earned the nickname “Whole Paycheck.” The issue is that businesses must earn their customer’s trust. Yes, lower prices can lure in people for awhile, but if customers don’t feel a connection to the brand, they are easily swayed by other deals and branding. Whole Foods had a reputation for being expensive, but they were also seen as ecologically accountable and conscientious of their customers’ wellbeing. This new pricing situation has undermined their good reputation. Customers enjoyed the company’s transparency regarding product sourcing, but now they may be questioning Whole Foods’s pricing transparency.
Most shoppers would not be surprised by grocery prices that vary by season, especially for produce. Many seasonal items are featured when they are in season through strategic placement and price cuts. Fiscally- (and locally-) minded customers know when it is time to buy, say, corn or artichokes. The seasons are clear and so are the advertisements. What Whole Foods has lacked this past month — and perhaps during its previous price cutting attempt — is transparency. One criticism was that Whole Foods raised their prices slowly after reducing them in 2017, so promoted sales only brought prices down to what they were briefly. Instead of presenting misleading discount advertising, their marketing team should communicate significant price shifts to customers. For example, imagine learning that local farmers had to increase their prices on citrus because of an early freeze, or raise their prices on beef because of the drought? The prices might still be hard to manage, but this transparency would present Whole Foods as accountable to their suppliers and customers.
The lack of transparency also makes Whole Foods look suspicious. As of today, you can enter “Whole Foods Amazon price cuts” into a search engine and get more than a dozen conflicting accounts of their advertising’s legitimacy. Those results do not instill trust into consumers’ hearts, and they certainly don’t help market the grocery store as financially accessible.
It is also problematic that, in their attempts to be accessible and appealing to more people, Whole Foods has chosen to make their discounts exclusive. To be clear, the exclusivity is not in and of itself a problem. Many luxury brands do quite well catering to a wealthy audience. The issue is that Whole Foods is trying to promote themselves as more accessible to the masses while simultaneously making their stores less accessible. Not everyone can afford — or sees the value in subscribing to Amazon Prime for — $12.99 per month. Amazon has offered substantial discounts on Prime for customers on government assistance (McCallister), but in order to get the most out of this deal these customers still have to commit to paying another monthly fee and to purchasing products that are not always the least expensive. In other words, to get the most out of Whole Foods’s new promotions, customers must pay between $5.99 and $12.99 for a service they may not use and for discounts that may be as low as 2%. This is all beginning to feel less like a deal and more like manipulation.
In truth, Amazon likely cares less about its high-end subsidiary and more about its longstanding money maker, Prime. Lure in more customers with Costco-like benefits, and worry less about how much the peripheral companies are affected. It is easy to understand the allure to both parties when you learn that Amazon Prime had over 100 million members in the US in December 2018. And the ethical perspective utility promotes the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people. Perhaps Amazon’s choices with Whole Foods can be ethically justified. Clearly, millions of people believe Prime benefits them, and Amazon is providing Prime members with another benefit. Even if the benefit may be minimal, members still get more for their money. Therefore, expanding Prime member’s benefits in this way could be seen as ethical.
However, questionable decisions and a lack of transparency could seriously hurt Whole Foods, which is now a part of Amazon. These decisions could seriously hurt both companies’ reputations, which could cost thousands of employees their jobs, including their suppliers. There has also been little talk of how this acquisition and the resulting marketing will affect local growers. Whole Foods has a history of featuring local items, but Amazon has a history of squeezing out the little guys. As with everything else about this case, expert opinions conflict. Caitlin Dewey of The Washington Post and her sources are skeptical, while NPR’s Mollie Simon reports optimism. The truth is that everything is currently speculation, but these possible risks should factor into our ethical evaluation.
There is a lot of information that Amazon does not make public; therefore it is difficult to thoroughly analyze this case. However, the information available does illustrate the value of transparency. Many of the questions circulating about Whole Foods could have been addressed with honest communication between executives, suppliers, and consumers. This case shows the importance of creating a clear and customer-driven focus for your business, and intentionally making decisions to maintain that reputation. It is not too late for Amazon and Whole Foods to regain their customer’s trust. Hopefully, they will make the right choices, and other business organizations will learn from their mistakes and accomplishments.
Amazon offers Prime discount to those on government benefits. (June 6, 2017). Associated Press.
Amazon Prime statistics and Facts. (n.d.). Statista. https://www.statista.com/topics/4076/amazon-prime/
Columbus, Louis. (March 4, 2018). 10 charts that will change your perspective of Amazon Prime’s growth. Forbes.
Del Rey, Jason. (April 4, 2019). Amazon is slashing prices at Whole Foods again–and shoppers are noticing.
Dewey, Caitlin. (June 30, 2017). The big consequence of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal no one’s talking about.
Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/06/30/the-big-consequence-of-
Dombrowski, Paul. (2000). Ethics in technical communication. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Forster, Tim. (April 4, 2019). Whole Foods price drops are an ad for Amazon Prime memberships in disguise. Eater.
Garcia, Tony. (April 8, 2019). Amazon’s Whole Foods price cuts aim to build a ‘Costco-like’ relationship with Prime
members. Market Watch. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazons-whole-foods-price-cuts-aim-to-
May, Steve. (Ed.). (2013). Case studies in organizational communication: Ethical perspectives and practices. 2nd ed.
Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
McCallister, Doreen. (June 7, 2017). Amazon lowers Prime membership rate for low-income customers. NPR.
More than half of US households will be Amazon Prime members in 2019. (Feb. 26, 2019). eMarketer.
Simon, Mollie. (June 28, 2017). Why Whole Foods’ small suppliers think Amazon will be good for them. NPR.
Smith, Craig. (April 13, 2019). 55 amazing Amaon Prime statistics and facts (2019) | By the numbers. DMR.
Wells, Madeline. (April 5, 2019) Whole Foods said they cut prices. We checked to see if they did. SF Gate.
Wichter, Zach, & Weise, Karen. (April 3, 2019). Whole Foods cut prices. It saved us 5 cents. The New York Times.
Creating a Culture of Safety
Everyone should be concerned with workplace safety, but not in the ways you might expect. Yes, employees should be trained, but even anecdotal evidence reveals that training videos and meetings only go so far. It is quite common for employees to hold side conversations or to text during trainings, or find ways to scrub through training video content. But this article is not about how to create high quality videography or safety curriculum. It’s about how to create a culture of workplace safety. Experts in psychology, management, and business agree that employees will respond best to safety information when it is one aspect of a larger safety culture. It is up to organizational leadership to create and support this environment.
It’s important to be careful about how you use the term safety culture. Many organizations use it incorrectly either because they don’t really understand what it means to change an organization’s culture, or because they don’t know how to change their own. Forbes contributing writer Chris Cancialosi challenged organizations to embrace this change in two specific ways. First, look for the causes of unsafe behavior instead of treating the effects. Addressing the visible problems with, say, a safety poster or even a new training often provide only a superficial or even erroneous solution.
Second, show employees that you care about them as people, not just as a means to an end. Summing up recent research, Cancialosi claimed, “organizations that create clarity and alignment about what they stand for, what they value, and how people work together, not only achieve better safety performance but they also tend to pull ahead of their competitors in other critical performance metrics such as sales growth, market share, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction and operational performance.” In other words, people engage more when they feel valued and know what is expected of them. These are not new concepts, and yet somehow they are easily forgotten.
Dr. Gretchen Watson argued in Psychology Today that if you want your employees to care about their work and safety practices, they must feel engaged. She recommended three ways to encourage employee engagement:
- Let employees know their contribution is meaningful
- Recognize people for a job well done
- Treat everyone with dignity and respect
It really is that simple: treat your employees as valued human beings, and they will likely work harder and safer. Yes, there are new apps and machines and trainings that all claim to improve workplace safety, but before you consider investing time and money into these quick fixes, try creating a true safety culture in your organization.
If you would like to learn more about why and how to create a safety culture, check out these four books:
Calderone, Len. (July 26, 2018). Technology that can improve safety in manufacturing. Manufacturing Tomorrow.
Cancialosi, Chris. (May 26, 2015). Creating a culture of safety: More than a kitschy catchphrase. Forbes.
Watson, Gretchen L. (April 25, 2017). Three ways to boost workplace safety. Psychology Today.
Intro to Produce Safety
Intro to Produce Safety
Written by Safe Food Alliance
Originally published on safefoodalliance.com
14 January, 2019
The Produce Safety rule, which is part of a larger set of food safety regulations recently issued by the U.S. FDA, applies to growers of produce within the U.S. This includes both traditional “fresh produce”, as well as tree nuts and dried fruit among other items. The full title of this regulation is “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption”. The FDA has provided for some exemptions within the rule for certain commodities or certain situations.
The U.S. FDA’s Produce Safety rule requires in § 112.22(c) that for each farm, “At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.” The PSA Grower Training Course is one way to satisfy this requirement; it is the only course currently recognized by FDA. The process for development and implementation of this training for the industry is outlined on the following page.
The FDA lays out their strategy for training industry with regard to FSMA here. As you can see they have laid out a strategy for appropriate individuals to become approved as trainers, and members of the Safe Food Alliance team have gained approval to conduct the training. The produce safety course is conducted with strict oversight from the Produce Safety Alliance, as laid out in the program. Training materials used come directly from the Produce Safety Alliance. Additional information about the course can be found on our web site at safefoodalliance.com/events, by clicking on one of the courses.
Regarding GAP programs and compliance with the regulation, under comment 30 of the regulation, the FDA writes: “To the extent that certification schemes or food safety programs are consistent with the produce safety regulation, then compliance with those schemes or programs could be relevant to compliance with the requirements of part 112.” Under comment 143 the FDA writes “We decline the request that FDA recognize certain commodity-specific guidelines developed by industry (such as the Citrus GAPs) as an acceptable alternative to the produce safety regulation. Alternatives are permitted for only certain of the specified requirements of part 112, specifically related to agricultural water, which are listed in § 112.49 and cross referenced in § 112.12(a), and not for all of the provisions of the produce safety regulation, in general.”
Review: New Local Restaurant is Hit and Miss
We visited Sabores at 8pm on a Friday night; but unlike many other restaurants in the city, there was immediate seating. I was hungry and I assumed it was slow because the restaurant was relatively new, so I didn’t mind. However, after indulging in a dinner fit to feed twice our party’s size, we walked away with mixed feelings about the new restaurant.
I had high hopes for Sabores, which replaced local Northwest Fresno staple Plaza Ventana about six months ago. The ghost of their predecessor was still present in the decor, which is now an awkward blend of festive bright colors and sophisticated, ornate silver chandeliers and accessories. However, the service was great and everyone was friendly. We even enjoyed some Mexican karaoke from the bar, and quickly found ourselves surrounded by a massive feast.
We started with the classic chips and salsa. The chips were house made and thick, but lacked flavor. The salsa fared better. It was nice and chunky with a strong presence of black pepper with a spicy kick. We paired these with their house margaritas on the rocks, which were tasty but on the small side.
Next came a massive plate of chile verde nachos, piled high with meat, pinto beans, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeno, cheese, with a crema drizzle. The thick chips held up well under all the toppings, and the ingredients blended well on the palate. I was feeling optimistic and will admit that ate more than my fair share.
My chicken mole enchiladas received a mixed review. They were drenched in a thick, rich mole sauce that started chocolatey and ended with a spicy kick. It was delicious, but if you are looking for a truly authentic mole sauce, you’re not going to find it here. The thick house made corn tortillas were also delicious, but the chicken inside was incredibly bland and somewhat dry despite the sauce.
My date ordered a beautiful taco trio with a side of beans and rice. Neither of us were impressed by the refried beans, which were runny and quite like some canned products you can get at your local grocery store. The rice was fluffy, as traditional Spanish rice should be, but more in a sticky rice way. The flavor was good, though. The tacos, however, were a hit. The shrimp was flavorful and spicy, and the pieces were quite large. The carne asada was tender and flavorful, and the fish had that traditional street taco flavor. None of the tacos made it home as leftovers.
In all, our Sabores experience was a solid C+. The meats were delicious, the service was good, but the sides were all mediocre. Most restaurants don’t hit all the marks, and this is definitely true of Sabores. With a little effort you could easily find a few “go to” dishes that you can enjoy–maybe even crave–and feel are worth your time and money, but beware: you might hit a few bland dead ends first.
Review: Doughnuts to Die For
I have a confession. This was not my first trip to Doughnut Fantasy. They moved into our neighborhood in summer 2016 and, once we discovered them, they became a coveted weekend treat for me and my five-year-old.
This is not your average doughnut shop. They sell some classics like the old fashioned and glazed doughnut, but people don’t go there for plain. Doughnut Fantasy blends your favorite sweet flavors into something new and delicious. My favorites are the glazed doughnut topped with crumbled Butterfinger), and the banana Nutella cronut. My son goes for the more playful and aesthetic, like the glazed topped with crushed Jolly Rancher, and the cake doughnut topped with a 3D candy rainbow. And for the more savory minded, there is the new classic maple bacon doughnut (playfully titled “When Pigs Fly”) and the Hot Cheetos doughnut.
But perhaps the coolest part of this local establishment is that you can customize and build virtually any doughnut. These doughnut artists will add popular characters’ faces and emojis, create enormous Homer Simpson-esque doughnuts, and even build a name or scene from doughnuts. And the best part is that they are as delicious as they look!
Eduardo “Lalo” Castillo has managed the Fresno location of Charter Industries for eight years. Born and raised in the Central Valley, he found his way to this warehouse through a local staffing agency in 2011. Since his arrival, the Fresno warehouse shipments have increased 3,000%. That is an impressive number for any manager, but even more so for one who has predominantly handled his orders alone. Just ask and Lalo will say he is proud to distribute affordable quality materials to cabinet and furniture shops, so that homeowners and businesses alike can enjoy beautiful, long lasting furnishings.
Charter Industries distributes high quality materials for office furnishings and cabinetry at competitive prices. Their products include PVC and veneer edgebanding, plastic and metal laminates, t-molding, and adhesives. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through the rows of neatly stacked boxes and coils of edgebanding, and watching Lalo enact CI’s warm and family oriented culture with his drivers. Even when juggling dozens of orders, Lalo greets each driver warmly by name and with a wide grin. He asks established drivers about their families, and he even brought iced tea for a driver who went out of his way to accommodate a tight schedule.
Scheduling is truly a priority at Charter Industries. Their policy is to ship all in stock orders received before 5pm EST on the same day. Lalo said he is constantly redesigning the warehouse shelving to organize new products so that they can easily be found and shipped quickly. Same day shipping is a challenging policy for their warehouse managers, but it illustrates CI’s desire to put their customers first.
The local warehouse is one of four satellite locations scattered throughout the US. The Fresno location is relatively small (approximately 10,000 square feet) compared to the other four, but each location works together to create a high producing and customer oriented business. The company has a history of regularly surpassing their own production records, and recently a private equity group has invested in the company. If Lalo and his work here are any indication, the equity group will definitely get their money’s worth.