Feedback: June 2018

by Tony Chan, Ken Pollack, Josh Thorsvik

How do you stay grounded as a locally owned and operated business while growing it and expanding from your initial location?

Tony Chan

Founder and Owner
Snoh Ice Shavery
Sector: Restaurants

It is important to stay connected to the Phoenix local community and show support to locals as well. We like to cater to our customers’ demands. But we also feel it’s very important in this city to offer variety, with cultural diversity for economic growth included. 

Snoh is the first business that is built specifically around an Asian-American dessert. It had been popular in Los Angeles, and we took a risk and opened in Central Phoenix five years ago, aiming to create a different type of cultural food culture and pave the way for more Asian-American businesses to open. 

Building on the success of Snoh to create opportunity for other Asian-American businesses, I’ve learned that is a way to work together to build economic growth for our community. This is also how I have come to start PHX Night Market, the first Asian night-time food festival in Phoenix, which is also an incubator for startup food businesses and retail.  

After earning his degree in radiology, Tony Chan pursued a small-business career and from there started connecting with the local community. He established Snoh Ice Shavery in 2013, wishing to bring to Phoenix this unique Asian-American frozen dessert — a cross between ice cream and traditional shaved ice, with a distinctive melt-in-your-mouth texture. Chan is also the co-producer of PHX Night Market and serves on the board of the Asian Chamber of Commerce. 

Ken Pollack

Owner and President
Babbo Italian Eatery
Sector: Restaurants

On a personal note, the way I stay grounded is by staying close to my family. I even work with my children on a daily basis. I think it’s always important to surround yourself with like-minded people who have the same values and goals.

At Babbo Italian Eatery, we are a team. Many of the employees — both in the kitchen and front of the house — have been with us since the beginning. Over the years, we have all become family. Bussers become servers and servers become managers. All these people have an important place on our team and when you grow up in a company like Babbo, you understand the culture and values. I know that this is what has helped us continue to be so successful in a competitive space. We continue to grow and expand because of our employees that are like family. 

I also think it’s important that, with every new location, we get involved in the community.  

Ken Pollack is a local restaurateur with 24 years of experience. Pollack opened the first Babbo Italian Eatery in 2002 in Glendale, Ariz. Now, the concept has expanded to eight Valley locations, with a ninth opening in Goodyear in 2019. “Babbo” means daddy/father in Italian. Pollack has four children, all of whom work at Babbo Italian Eatery.

Josh Thorsvik

Co-Founder and Co-Owner
Keep It Cut
Sector: Barbershops

I am reminded that it wasn’t that long ago Jacob and I started earning a salary from Keep It Cut. It took us more than nine years, in two ventures, to receive that very first paycheck. We joked that being in business is one expensive, time-consuming hobby. Now, Keep It Cut is our only employer.

As we approach the opening of our fifth and sixth locations this summer, it is hard not to forget how long it took us to get to this place. Each new store feels like we are betting the business on it. What if the customers in that neighborhood don’t like us? Will we be able to attract talented staff? Will this “business” go back to being a hobby? 

As a small, local business, most people don’t know what we offer. To change that, we target new customers with a free trial to give us a chance. We also have a referral program that encourages these customers to tell their friends. Once in the shop, we can pitch them the value of being a “regular” at Keep It Cut.  

Josh Thorsvik, together with Jacob Meltzer, own and run Keep It Cut. Keep It Cut is a local men’s hair salon that uniquely offers unlimited haircut memberships. For a low monthly fee, customers can get as many haircuts as they desire.

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