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Friday, June 10, 2011

Planet Hoagie Delivers!

Operating a small business in Norristown is a thing of pride. These days, doing business in downtown Norristown is particularly tough making the pride factor even higher. Especially for those who continually make it happen day after day. "It's not easy, but we love this town and appreciate the traffic that the courthouse provides.", Said Chris Aquila, owner of the shop. "We've come to have some high expectations by our regular clients, and let me tell you, it's not easy pleasing lawyers", Chris said with a smile.

Having had a sandwich or two from the establishment, I can attest to their attitude about pride. They take the time to be sure that what they offer is of the highest quality, every time. Chris and his team never settle for less when it comes to serving his customers. The product is of the highest quality from the rolls to the meats to the service.

Located on Airy and Swede where the old Montgomery Lunch used to reside, Planet Hoagie has been serving law firms, court house traffic, and local workers for the past 8 years. "We still get the occasional couple who just got their marriage licenses", said Chris with a smile. What better way to celebrate anticipated nuptials? In addition to their local business, the shop also delivers. From King of Prussia to Conshohoken, all the way to even Blue Bell, they cover a wide service area. "Some of the law firms in this area have branch offices in nearby towns. They love our sandwiches so much they have those offices order for delivery." said Aquila.

Planet Hoagie has a daily schedule of 9:00am to 3pm Monday through Friday. What was originally just a hoagie shop, Chris saw the the need to widen the menu with all of the traffic in and around town. Three years ago they added a grill adding steak sandwiches, breakfast items, cheeseburgers and even a fryer for french fries, chicken fingers, etc...

When I went to speak to Chris about doing this article for his shop, what really resonated out of it for me was his concern for business in Norristown. It was out of anticipation for his own shop either. The guys here love the town, and they want to see it grow. "It's a great place and there is a lot of opportunity and potential", said Chris. I tell you, there's nothing better than to obtain products or services from a place that really has a passion for where they reside and do business. It shows in those products and you'll never be disappointed.

Hit this place up next time you're in the area. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Times Herald Best of Montco Contest! VOTE NOW!

Every year the Times Herald hosts the Best of Montco awards. These awards are for local businesses that the community votes for as the best of their kind. Pizza, Pet Groomers, Golf Courses, lawyers, Auto Mechanics, etc...

Go to the link and vote for the business you like best! Check out the categories and start voting away!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Conshy Bakery is a labor of love

I first contacted Conshy Bakery about 6 months ago to do this review. I didn't think much of it and thought I could probably write something up real quick without even speaking to anyone. I do like to talk to the owners, the employees and sometimes even customers about places I do write up's on because it gives a much deeper perspective so I decided to wait.

I finally got to Conshy last week and was met by Chris. The daughter of one of the founders. We had a pleasant conversation and a quick tour, meeting both her brother and her father. What they do there is nothing short of miraculous to bring the area the finest in bread and rolls.

First off, the tour was really shocking. I don't know why. All you have to do is think about what they do and you could probably form a concept of how much work goes into doing what they do, but I was totally surprised. First off, they get a bulk delivery of about 50,000 pounds of flour every six days. It goes into this hopper and from there is distributed via pipeline to the different mixers. Truly something to be seen and not what you'd expect from looking outside of the quaint little building in Conshohocken. Especially from looking at the little retail shop from inside the doors. It's truly a huge undertaking with ovens and proofing rooms and mixers and cooling rooms, etc. Not everything is automated either. This is truly a craft. Every Kaiser roll that has an "x" marked on top is made by hand. From the hoagie rolls to the zep rolls to everything in between all get attention by hand at some point in the process.

80 percent of their business is wholesale and the other 20 percent is retail. They make tomato pie, rolls, breads, and baked goods for every type of eatery or consumer. With 11 independent route drivers they service just about 15 counties surrounding the Delaware Valley. "We get calls from Maryland and Virginia almost on a daily basis but being a daily delivery product it's hard to reach further out", said Mike, now a partner with his father Dominic in the business.

Anyone who is anyone knows the quality of their breads and rolls and also realizes that the quality is time sensitive. Great breads from this area are no good after 24 hours. "You can freeze them, and use them later, but that's only for hot sandwiches. You shouldn't do it for cold sandwiches.", said Dominic. Obviously a sandwich connoisseur and knows his product. For what it's worth, I agree completely. Trust me, I know my sandwiches. :)

Dominic Gambone founded Conshocken Bakery in 1973 with his partner Frank Manzi. Both of whom worked at Morabito Bakery in Norristown. They bought a $12,000 oven from the closing Phoenixville state hospital at auction (which is still in use today), and got to work.

From those days it has grown into an area household name. They brand some of their rolls for customers such as McNally's at Citizens Bank Park. The "Schmitter" is made specifically for that sandwich and Conshy bakery provides it. They just don't serve sandwich shops either. Some of the best restaurants in the area serve conshy products. "Because of the independent drivers, it's sometimes hard for us gauge just who exactly we are serving at all times. The drivers like to keep their customers close to their own vests", said Chris. Can you blame them?

On any given day they average 50 employees to complete the daily orders working overnight, starting around 6pm to have orders done by 3am. Employees work around their shifts to be sure that quality remains the number one priority. Area sandwich shops wouldn't be what they are without Conshy, that's for sure. Ask Lou's, Eve's, or any other of your favorite places that uses Conshy where their business would be without them. I did. Results are obvious.

The retail store is open almost everyday, and you can check their site out for hours. Stop by, grab a tomato pie, some rolls, or bread for the family. Use them for parties, but call in your orders so you know the product will be available. It goes fast! I've posted some pics below of the bakery inside, including the original oven.

One of the Proofing rooms

Baking line

First Oven ever used

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Joseph Miller, CPA will do your taxes among other things

Almost a month ago, there was a collective sigh of relief from all the accountants in the area. That sigh came from knowing that they could now go on vacation. From Jan 1st thru April 15th, most tax accountants spend 15 hours a day inside their little cubbies churning out 1040's and other tax documents to help their customers hit their deadlines.

That's the idea most people get when they hear about tax consultants or accountants. However, in Lansdale, Joesph Miller, CPA does a lot more than just helping you file your taxes.

For more than 15 years, Miller has been helping the community with all of their financial and business needs as it relates to accounting, taxes, bookkeeping, billing, payroll, and even computer services among other things.

"We have a nice clientele of auto dealerships that we've done for years among other different types of corporate and professional clients", said Doug Miller, Joe's son and the lead tax preparer for the business. "But we also do a lot of personal returns as well. This year we did over 400 1040 returns. The community has come to know that we can help them get it right so that they can be sure they are getting what they deserve back and they get that peace of mind knowing that they had it done right."

Located in Lansdale, Miller started 15 years ago, acquiring two other firms along the way and moving once, literally down the street to accommodate the need for more space.

Miller's firm truly defines the success of a local business when the right tactics are implemented. Do something you love to do, engage family and friends to help with building the business, be sure to provide value and integrity for your customers, be creative in your offering, and have fun doing it.

To see how Joseph Miller can help you or your business, call them for an appointment.

Joseph Miller, CPA
(215) 855-3498
713 W. Main St
Lansdale, PA 19446

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Lucky Dog Saloon Surpasses 1,000 members on Facebook

I've written a lot about social media and its advantages to help grow your business. It's not an easy task to figure out how to go about taking full advantage of it either. The Lucky Dog found out and have proven results on how it has helped grow their business.

For those that maybe tech challenged, or not "hip" to new tactics in Marketing, there is help. I have written a few articles in the past about some companies that can help. Lucky Dog used a local marketing firm and are thrilled with the results.

Below is a reprint of a news release from the Lucky Dog on how it works for them...

Local Business Reaches Millennial Mark on Facebook

The Lucky Dog Saloon Is Proud to Announce Their Facebook Fan page has Reached 1,000 Facebook Fans

LAFAYETTE HILL, PA--(May xx, 2011) – The Lucky Dog Saloon and Grille ( has seen the value of social media recently as the restaurants Facebook page recently surpassed the 1,000 fans mark – a number that has grown from 12 in March 2009.

“Seeing us hit 1,000 fans is a great thing. We have such a great community of customers and have the ability each week to make sure they are aware of what is going on at our location.” Barrie Marino, owner of The Lucky Dog Saloon & Grille stated.

Customers are visiting the page to see specials, find out new events and check back each Tuesday to see what the “Facebook Freebie” is for trivia that evening. The Facebook Freebie, one way we interact with our fans weekly, is a free question and answer to the first round of trivia each Tuesday that we will provide to our fans as a benefit for following the fan page.

One local resident, Marc Weinstein, said, “I think the Lucky Dog has a great fan page and I visit their page several times per week to see the weekend specials and the Tuesday trivia free answer. Their posts are relevant and provide customers with information we otherwise could not receive unless we were at the location.”

Through the social media management of BE Marketing LLC., The Lucky Dog is able to interact with their fans and utilize Facebook as an important marketing channel. Owners Barrie and Steve receive monthly analytics and speak with Brandon Rost, President of BE Marketing LCC weekly about upcoming promotions.

Steve Marino, Barrie’s husband and owner of The Lucky Dog, states, “Over the last two years we have seen a steady increase in our fan base on Facebook and have been able to utilize our fan page as an integral communication tool between the restaurant and our customers. We knew that we needed to have a presence on Facebook but just did not have the time to manage it. Working with BE Marketing, we have been able to create this online community and provide our customers with another way of interacting with the restaurant.”

The Lucky Dog Saloon & Grille is a local restaurant located in Lafayette Hill, PA. They have been in business for over 10 years. The atmosphere is fun and festive. To make customers feel right at home, they combine an eclectic American menu with a friendly staff and Barrie's delicious homemade desserts.


This is a great case study on how a small business should be utilizing Social Media to help grow their brand and business. But it's also a great case study on how local consumers can find great local business and stay in touch with what they have to offer. As a consumer, being proactive on social media sites will help you find the best deals locally and maybe even find a business you had no idea existed.

Congrats to Lucky Dog Saloon for hitting this milestone! Hit the fan page and find out what you're missing!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

$10 minimum purchase for credit cards

How often have you seen this at local businesses? Ever wonder why? If you think about it hard enough you can probably figure it out, but I'll save you the effort.

See, merchant accounts come with a fee. Those are the accounts that allow merchants to accept credit cards. Every retailer that has one must pay a percentage of the purchase price (called a discount rate) and a hard fee or a per transaction fee (or settlement or whatever other "title" each individual provider calls it). In short, every time you swipe your card at any retailer, about 15 people or entities are making money. Pennies at a time albeit, but still, that many people. There's the guy that sold the account into the retailer, the bank that underwrites the transaction, the account that settles it, the equipment company, etc... you get the point.

Some local businesses don't even accept credit cards, although that has gotten few and far between because they need to compete. I see customers these days swipe their card for a $1.03 coffee at Wawa. Why is Wawa accepting credit cards for a coffee when you can't charge a medium pie at Joe's? Well because Wawa sells a billion dollars worth of coffee a year. Joe, not so much. And every little penny eats into Joe's right to make a profit.

Then there is debit card purchases. Ever notice that most local places will almost beg you to enter a pin when using your atm card? Reason for that is they pay LESS when a pin is entered. Considerably less. Used to be as little as a quarter although today I would think its gone up to at least $-0.75 per. Just a guess, but certainly no discount rate.

Now, let's not get into the debate of whether or not people should be using credit cards for purchases as little as $10 (or $1). This isn't about debt or responsible money management. If the Fed has their way, cash will be gone as soon as yesterday.

So where am I going with this?... Oh that's right... A little bill that not too many people know about. Passed sometime in 2010 this bill, or amendment to the bill puts the burden of those expenses back onto the consumer. That's right folks. You will now be paying for it. And don't think this benefits the local businesses. They don't do enough in sales to really make that much of a difference. It's the Large retailers, the Walmarts, the Home Depots, The Safeway Super markets who will benefit in retaining billions of dollars in fees that YOU will now be paying for with the passing of this amendment.

What was called the Durbin amendment was introduced and passed the floor in 2010. Check out what I'm talking about here.... This also goes far beyond who pays for fees. This will class consumers. This is what the thought of Big Brother was really about. You will be required to keep extra money in your account to guarantee purchases. Debit card purchases could be limited based on your desire to pay those fees. The type of information and how it will be used will be affected, basically rendering everyone a walking marketing survey with every purchase. You want companies knowing how many diapers you purchase? How about cigarettes? Think that someone along the line would like to raise your health insurance premiums because they can see how many cartons of cigarettes you purchased, or bottles of Jamesons?

I think it's time we stop getting ridiculous about big business in this country because they are the ones who pay for the political clout. After all, this is what it's about. Politicians are people. they do what they need to do to keep their job. If that's voting in favor of a rule that benefits a corporation who spends thousands, or even millions on campaign funding to help that politician keep his job, that's what he's going to do. Really, it's not rocket science.

A bill of this nature is only going to add to the destruction of the middle class. Peruse the link I set forth above. Read the other news stories about it via the links on the home page. And get angry! This is serious stuff. It's not only going to add more costs onto the American public, but it's going to add more rules, more restrictions, and more, ahem* control.


I am a regtistered Republican and small business owner. :)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tele-Aide Provides Peace of Mind

Every once in a while, someone comes up with an idea that just blows my socks off. Tele-Aide is one of those ideas. The founder, Greg Firely contacted me via email about doing a quick write up on his business and I glanced over it and the other 10 I received that day without very much attention.

After catching up with Greg on the phone and talking about his product, I am really excited about it and how much help it will provide the community. It is truly unique and offers families peace of mind for their loved ones as well as themselves. Read on...

Tele-Aide was a concept born out of experience and resulting in a necessity for families to really keep an eye on their loved ones. Almost everyone has someone close to them who may be older, sick, and/or lives alone. Some may even be far enough away where daily visits are impossible, and let's face it, in today's world, daily calls are even a stretch. Families find themselves with a need for checking up on their loved ones who may need daily contact to be sure that they are safe and well.

Tele-Aide answers that need. For a relatively small fee, Tele-Aide will contact your loved ones on a daily basis making sure they are well, have taken their medicine, if they are in need of any help, or if they are generally in good shape. Tele-Aide also provides reports to the relatives on any and all activity with calls that were made, what type of activity took place during those calls, and emergency calls to family if anything should be urgent.

Once they get a client, they start a profile on the patient. That profile includes things like the nearest emergency room, first responders, etc. so that if anything is to happen, or if the patient is in need of immediate help, they can respond with the fastest course of action. It also includes a health assessment from an RN for the patient to ensure that calls will include important information.

Tele-aide is an outbound service only. Meaning, they will make the contact to the patient on a daily basis with procedures in place, usually defined with the help of the family, specific to that patient. The patient doesn't have to check in at all. All calls are made directly from Tele-Aide. If there is no response on the first call, they may wait 20 minutes to make a second attempt. If no answer they may wait another 20 and then put into action a call for help by local authorities and contact family.

Calls will be made based off of family needs. Perhaps the patient may be out a specific time during doctor visits, or a bridge league. All calls will be made to ensure the highest level of safety is reached as it pertains to each individual patient.

With families moving farther and farther away, this service is invaluable and may even pay for itself. Cheaper than the gas someone might spend making multiple visits a month, you get the peace of mind of knowing your family member is being contacted every day to ensure their safety.

I've never heard of a service like this and believe it to be the first of its kind, although I haven't researched enough to verify it. A company like this, especially being a local company, is invaluable to the community. It has the potential to provide numerous jobs and be a real asset to the community, keeping its residents safe and their families comfortable knowing that there is someone there to keep an eye on them.

Check out the website and pass it along to anyone you know who might have this need. It's a great service to have in order to help you manage your daily schedule and have peace of mind knowing that your loved ones are being looked after.