Thursday, October 30, 2014

Buying a meal will feed a hungry neighbor at Feed the World Cafe

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
October 30, 2014

Patrick Mixis (Photo by Susan Andress)

Patrick Mixis was appalled to find out how many hungry people there are in Kalamazoo. So he set about opening a restaurant that will help feed them as its customers get fed. Zinta Aistars has the story on Feed the World Cafe.

It’s a stunning statistic: 24 percent of all households in Kalamazoo County qualify as ALICE households. ALICE is an acronym coined by United Way in collaboration with Rutgers University to designate Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed people who are working at one or more jobs, yet are still falling behind.

Forty percent of Michigan households, according to the ALICE Project, a report issued by United Way and Rutgers University, earn too little to afford basic needs.

In Kalamazoo County, 24 percent translates to more than 24,000 households, with more than another 17,000 households living under the poverty line. ALICE households, the report states, include both genders, young and old, and those of all races.

"I was taking a class at Western Michigan University on current social issues, including world hunger, and I was shocked to learn about some of these numbers," says Patrick Mixis, who graduated from WMU in the spring 2014 with a degree in food service management. 

"I thought, 'How devastating; so many people going hungry'," and then, he started thinking what he might do about it. One in six children, he learned, didn’t know from one day to the next if he or she would eat a meal that day.

"Patrick came to me with this idea about opening a restaurant that would share its profits with nonprofits feeding the hungry," says his mom, Debra Mixis. "I’ve been working with nonprofits for 25 years; I loved his idea. I got really excited, but I wanted him to finish school first. He held onto that idea for two years."

Good ideas don’t fade with time. As soon as he graduated, Patrick Mixis was ready to roll up his white, chef’s sleeves and get to work. 

"At least a quarter of my classes were culinary," he says. "I worked at Food Dance Cafe and and Monaco Bay. I interned at Casa Bolero and the chef there, Jared Dellario, mentored me as I developed the business idea. I worked at the microbrewery in Portage. John Tsui at Chinn Chinn gave me some great ideas with the start up and kitchen design."

Chef Howie Peak, now at the Radisson was another mentor. And more help came from John Mueller, professor of entrepreneurship at Western Michigan University. He helped Patrick develop the business plan that led to the purchase of the Blackeye Cafe after it came up for sale shortly after Patrick graduated. 

Debra Mixis and her business partner, Lori Shugars invested in the Blackeye Espresso Cafe at 7000 Stadium Drive, which will be the first Feed the World Cafe. It now serves coffee and lunch, but they were willing to turn it over to the young chef to bring about his idea. 

He brought his longtime friend and neighbor Kurt Shugars, Lori Shugars' son, on board to supervise the servers, while Patrick took on chef duties as kitchen manager. The new restaurant will be renamed Feed the World Cafe after a full kitchen is installed.

In September 2014, Mixis and Shugars, mothers and investors, were granted the last liquor license in Oshtemo Township, giving them permission to serve beer and wine at the new restaurant. 

"The Township issued us a tavern license when they heard what we were planning to do. They really liked the idea," says Debra Mixis.

The idea, now the plan: For each meal the restaurant sells, their nonprofit partners will receive a percentage of the profits to help feed the hungry in Kalamazoo County. Those partners include ...


Monday, October 27, 2014

Invisible Traffic: Stories About When Life Hits You Like A Truck

by Zinta Aistars
for WMUK 102.1 FM radio
Southwest Michigan's NPR affiliate
Arts and More program

My WMUK 102.1 FM Arts and More interview with Deborah Ann Percy:

Deborah Ann Percy

In Deborah Ann Percy’s short story “The Woman Who Loved Paul Simon.” The main character has just about had it with her dinner date at a nice restaurant on Lake Michigan. Here's an excerpt:
Allison smiles and speaks slowly because she knows she’s no longer on safe ground with him, "Paul Simon’s songs have words about being alone, about giving up trying to find someone to trust." "That wouldn’t be much good for dinner." Allison stirs her coffee. She wants to tell him how wrong he is, about how the music is good for everything because it’s true. But then the evening will end shortly after dinner. She smiles as she does for Rob’s clients, "How’s the red fish? Everyone says it’s good here."
The story is from Percy's new book of short stories called Invisible Traffic. Percy will read from the book at Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Wednesday, October 30, at 6 p.m. 
Invisible Traffic and Good Mothers
Percy says the stories in Invisible Traffic all take place near Lake Michigan and they're predominantly about women - especially women who are good mothers.
"There are some wonderful women writers who write stories from a woman's point of view, but too often I think a woman has to be a bad mother to be the subject of a literary story. I don't think that's true," says Percy. "I think being a good mother, making the decisions you have to make to be a good mother and make your children safe and healthy, is just as hard."
There's a lot of variety in Percy's stories: a husband who drops his wife off at a store and then disappears, a child who swims dangerously far, one night stands, domineering friends. 
But if there's one uniting theme, Percy says it's ...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

GS Custom Bullets helps you hit 'em with your best shot

by Zinta Aistars
Published in Southwest Michigan's Second Wave Media
October 23, 2014

Gina Schultz (Photo by Susan Andress)

Making bullets is part of the family business for the Schultzes. Today Gina Schultz runs the custom bullet business started by her father, a bulletsmith, in South Africa. Zinta Aistars reports on bullets designed to order. 

Gina Schultz was 7 years old when her father first placed a gun in her hands. Schultz is the daughter of Gerard Schultz, owner of a gun shop in South Africa that he had opened for business in 1977, two years before her birth. Her father trained her and her sister carefully on how to shoot. 

Handling guns, Schultz says, "is second nature to me." 

In 1999, shortly after moving to the United States from South Africa, Schultz took over the ownership of the business that grew out of her father’s gun shop, opening a United States-based business to mirror the original one started by her father in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. 

GS Custom Bullets is located at 69301 M-62 in Edwardsburg, Michigan.  Schultz’s father oversees the technical side of the bullets he designed and patented, and her mother oversees the store’s administrative side at the South Africa location.

"We’ve been shipping to United States for years," says Schultz. "There was a learning curve to learn about importing, licensing, so I thought, why not just manufacture here?" 

Schultz knows her bullets. Among her favorite memories are the hunting trips she went on with her father from age 13, and by age 16, the .220 Swift rifle she sighted on the beautiful blesbok, a type of antelope with a white blaze across its face, found only in South Africa. Schultz was 300 yards from her target. 

"My father helped me get closer," she says. "It was a flat, open field, and the herd ran off but this one. Usually, a hunter fires at 200 yards; this was the longest shot I’d ever taken at 300, but I knew what my rifle could do. The shot hit the blesbok in the ...