Thursday, August 16, 2012
Dipped Fresh co-owners Antonia Poland and Cynthia Wood developed their new business in Coolidge Park around the notion that “everything is better dipped [in chocolate],” especially when the items being dipped are fresh and free of additives.
“I do everything myself, because I like the freshest things possible,” said Poland, a Chicago native who came to Chattanooga a year ago specifically to open the business.
She got the idea for Dipped Fresh after receiving some soggy and mushy chocolate-covered strawberries as a gift.
“I thought, ‘I can do better than that,” said Poland, who started making her own dipped berries to bring to parties. “I’ve always been the person who cooks for their friends.”
She said people repeatedly told her she could make money selling the treats, and she soon began researching locations to open the business.
Poland said the resources available for entrepreneurs here are what led her to Chattanooga. She said she received assistance from the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Business Development Center and also took advantage of CreateHere’s SpringBoard business planning course. She said she was provided with funds to start the business from Brightbridge Women’s Business Center.
“I liked that you could actually talk to other people trying to start a business,” said the now-Brainerd resident of the SpringBoard course, which she found very helpful. “There’s no place in Chicago like that.”
The Dipped Fresh menu caters both to customers who want a single chocolate-covered snack such as a strawberry, apple, ice cream sandwich or piece of bacon, as well as those who want a full meal.
“You can cure your sweet tooth without feeling like you messed up your diet or gained 20 pounds,” said Poland of her “Single Deligts” dippers, but she also sells her tasty treats by the dozen and caters events. “You can come in and buy as little or as much as you want.”
Sandwiches are prepared with high-quality Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, bread from Chattanooga’s Bluff View Bakery and the freshest seasonal vegetables available, she said.
“I try to use the best items possible,” said Poland of her ingredients. “The most unhealthy thing I have is chocolate. We are not a fast food restaurant; everything is made fresh. I prepare your sandwich when you ask for it and I cut up all the vegetables for your salad when you order it.”
She said her body is sensitive to sugar and salt, which many restaurants load into their dishes for taste.
“I would feel sick from the additives people put in food, and I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’” she said.
The most frequently ordered sandwich since the shop opened in late June is the OriginalCyn, named for co-owner Wood and filled with honeyed ham, oven roasted chicken breast, American and provolone cheeses, spinach, tomato and mayonnaise.
Poland said her favorite sandwich is not on the menu, and she welcomes customers to create their own custom items as well. Chicken and pastrami with cheddar, lettuce, tomato and pineapple habanero on rosemary-olive oil bread is Poland’s preferred combination.
Along with gourmet sandwich, fresh spinach salad and soup meal options, Dipped Fresh also features a Creation of the Day. Poland said selections may include unique dishes such as her chicken spaghetti with made-from-scratch sauce.
“We’ve expanded the menu twice since we opened,” she said, noting that they’ve added things customers requested, such as the option of ordering a half sandwich as well as offering a half sandwich and salad combination deal. “Some people don’t want a large portion — these are not baby sandwiches.”
Dipped Fresh also offers beer, smoothies and options for children, such as a Nutella and banana sandwich with juice box.