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Success Stories

Pirate Chef LLC

“Aurora-South Metro SBDC gave us the empowerment, guidance, and connections to realize our dream of owning our own business with sustainability.”

Ian and Vanessa Reeves believe that sharing good food is the best
way to show love.  Pirate Chef specializes in bespoke catering, private parties, in home, and corporate dining. Taking experience from lives well-lived, they bring their clients a gastronomic encounter unlike any other.   Their business venture has been a longstanding dream, and they can’t wait to share it with you!

Ian, also known as Pirate Chef, has been cheekily operating pop-ups under this name since 2012. He hails from Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK. His love for cooking
began at age nine helping his mother make family meals. He honed his skills at
various well known gastro pubs in the west country of England and London. After moving up and down the east coast working for the likes of Stephen Starr and the Mandarin Oriental hotel group, he landed in Denver in 2019 and was the Head Chef at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He transitioned to crafting menus for his own business.

Vanessa has varied front-of-house experience in event management and restaurants. Her main professional background is in higher education and museums.  Prior to moving to Denver, she held various roles supporting private and nonprofit organizations with process improvement, which is a great skill to add to the small business mix.

From the success of their delicious breakfast burritos, chicken pot pies and shepherd’s pie, they realized they could launch something full time, opting for a ghost kitchen with three different menus plus catering.  Opening Pirate Chef in August 2021, the Reeves quickly pivoted strictly into catering and have found their footing and market.  The Aurora-South Metro SBDC consultant helped them make an objective decision to make this transition by looking at the numbers and influencer features.

The SBDC also helped Pirate Chef hone their business plan. “The introductions that were made through the SBDC, including funding and market research resources, not to mention the encouragement, is incalculable.  The program is our backbone when we need advice or thoughts on decisions.” 

Pirate Chef received an SBA-approved loan to support their growth.  They are now in the process of hiring their first part-time employee and received their first large contract.  The goal is to keep growing, and while doing so, be a part of the local diverse Aurora community, donating to Project Worthmore quarterly, an immigrant/refugee charity.  The sky’s the limit for 2023.

Food is life and everyone needs it.  So, check out Pirate Chef, www.piratecheffood.com, enjoy some good food and live a little while you’re at it!  (above photo credit: From the Hip)

Leatherneck Precision Machine

Leatherneck Precision Machine is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that specializes in precision machined components for the aerospace, defense, medical, dental, injection molding and other commercial industries that need precision machined parts for their product lines.  Sometimes people’s lives depend on special machine parts, such as aircraft structures, automobiles, and human-rated spacecrafts, and Leatherneck is an AS9100D- and ISO9001-certified company able to do that technical work.  He also has SDVOSB and SDVBE certifications (for small

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Petersen Custom Glass

After 15 years in the glass industry, Kris and Valerie Petersen opened Petersen Custom Glass, LLC in 2014. Kris has extensive experience designing and installing custom glass products. His specific areas of expertise include high-end frameless shower enclosures, ADA accessible showers and other custom glass projects. With his leadership skills gained from the military and her executive skills, Petersen Custom Glass has become a successful local business in Parker, CO, serving a 25-mile radius in

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GradePower Learning

Robert and Olga Mead, the owners of GradePower Learning, started out with a vision to help build children’s confidence and self-esteem. They found an opportunity to do that not only through tutoring students, but also in teaching them how to learn. The LEADING EDGETM Strategic Planning Series was the perfect tool for Olga to test her business model. She graduated from LEADING EDGETM in 2015 and continued on as a client at the Aurora-South Metro

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Fortified Development Trucking

Fortified Development Trucking strives to be an innovative and solutions-driven minority-owned trucking company, challenging their drivers to provide reliable and excellent customer service while balancing their career and family.  Their mission is to become the transporter of choice for construction hauling and short- and long-hauling from coast to coast.  With the byline “Realizing Potential at Every Level in the Trucking Industry”, Fortified Development Trucking offers reliable, safe, timely delivery that is the most cost-effective trucking

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Rustic Nomads

Starting a business in 2020—during the COVID-19 pandemic—has been a journey to say the least, but the owner of Rustic Nomads, Nathan Wiersum, will have bragging rights for life.   “The support received from the SBDC is why I continue to move .” With a loan from DreamSpring to purchase a food truck, the rest of the business has been self-funded.  Originally, the plan was to grow into a restaurant as soon as possible.  With the pandemic, goals were reevaluated.  The

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Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant

In the restaurant world a successful business often begins with family. When Cranelli’s Italian Restaurant, a new hotspot in Lone Tree, opened, the whole family pitched in to help owners Jim and Lasinda Crane make their dreams come true. Hours after the ink was dry on the restaurant lease, the couple began updating the décor and kitchen with the help of friends and family. Lasinda’s father David, a retired electrician, helped build a bar and

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