Off the Grid food festival launches in Sacramento

Off the Grid, a popular food truck festival, has begun a weekly series along the river in West Sacramento. The first event, shown here, took place on a beautiful sunny day, June 12, 2016, at River Walk Park in West Sacramento and the event continu
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Off the Grid, a popular food truck festival, has begun a weekly series along the river in West Sacramento. The first event, shown here, took place on a beautiful sunny day, June 12, 2016, at River Walk Park in West Sacramento and the event continu
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Cathie Anderson

Insights into the people who shape Sacramento’s business landscape

Cathie Anderson

Food festival returns Saturdays to The Barn in West Sacramento

By Cathie Anderson

canderson@sacbee.com

May 15, 2017 05:32 PM

Off the Grid returned Saturday to The Barn in West Sacramento with its free outdoor food festivals, and attendees will be getting a taste of a craft brewer that will become a fixture at the site, San Leandro-based Drake’s Brewing Co.

The Barn is such a unique structure,” said Matt Cohen, founder and owner of Off the Grid. “Our focus last year and our focus this year has really been about building an environment that feels like it brings the structure of The Barn to life, something that fits with the artistic style of the building itself. We’re really trying to incorporate elements of art and design into our events.”

Drake’s, which will occupy the site later this year with a permanent beer garden, will be serving up adult beverages under the Barn and plans a “Meet the Brewers” event every Second Saturday. Off the Grid, which will continue through Aug. 26, entered the Sacramento market last July with events at locations such as Fulcrum Property’s Barn and the River Walk Park in West Sacramento, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and Folsom Premium Outlets. Cohen said the market is exceeding revenue expectations that he had.

“We’re trying to find locations and places that resonate in the same way that the Barn does,” Cohen said. “We just launched an expanded service where we’re doing a monthly event in Davis as well. We’ve seen a lot of interest in our catering business pick up as well as a result of being in the Sacramento area. We hired someone just specifically to do catering for the Sacramento area. That’s been quite a surprise for us.”

Cohen’s team works with both mobile food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants on catering. Besides The Barn and Folsom Premium Outlets, Off the Grid is now operating events at Rancho Cordova’s City Hall, at the Sacramento Zoo and at Fulcrum’s University Research Park in Davis. To learn more, visit www.offthegrid/sacramento/. Cohen expects to add events as the weather warms up.

He noted that locals asked his staff last year whether they could bring some Bay Area food trucks to The Barn, so for the inaugural event, Sacramento trucks such as Sophia’s Mini Kitchen and El Ajicito will be joined by San Rafael’s Johnny Doughnuts, San Jose’s Waffle Roost, San Francisco’s Jackrabbit and Berkeley’s Smokes Poutinerie. In future, he said, there will be at least two Bay Area food trucks at The Barn festival, 985 Riverfront St. Also, along with music, expect to find graffiti, chalk and mural artists at work...

New micro-loans

The state of California is introducing a new loan program that will provide micro-loans of $500 to $10,000 to entrepreneurs and nonprofit founders whose organizations could bring jobs to the poorest neighborhoods.

“These low-wealth entrepreneurs simply do not have access to financing that other communities have,” said Teveia Barnes, executive director of the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, known as IBank. “We specifically targeted the … program to low-wealth individuals who are in low-wealth communities to try to reinvigorate these communities and to basically help these entrepreneurs get a jumpstart on their business.”

The initiative is, in fact, called the Jump Start Loan Program, and IBank will be making $1 million available for lending, $500,000 of it in this first year. The agency’s board decided to use funds from IBank’s farm lending program to get Jump Start off the ground.

IBank has asked longtime partners at five financial development corporations around the state to handle underwriting for the loans. California Capital FDC is handling the work in the Sacramento region, and other partners are Nor-Cal FDC in the Bay Area, California Coastal Rural Development Corp. in Salinas, Valley Small Business Development Corp. in Fresno and Pacific Coast Regional in the Los Angeles area.

No loans have been made yet, Barnes said, explaining that “the FDCs are in the process of doing the training and providing the technical assistance to prospective. … It’s really important that they understand how to do a business plan, for example, before we give them these funds. We want to be sure they understand the significance of the loan, the importance of paying it back, so the program can be sustainable to help other small businesses.”

These loans, which have a five-year term, can be used for startup costs, property purchases, leases, machinery, equipment, inventory or tenant improvements.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee