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 debate was between two options, a restaurant or more food trucks.
Either way, there was no stopping or slowing down. Rustic Nomads actually grew exponentially in 2020. While not be able to report huge profits, the focus during the first year was on building relationships. Since COVID-19 spoiled the year for many, Wiersum thought it best to survive the year as opposed to pushing profits over people. Many favorite locations have booked Rustic Nomads, solidifying the business and helping to build a following. Profits from 2020 were invested in the business, helping the bottom line for 2021.
The Aurora-South Metro SBDC was pivotal in helping start the business and developing the idea of growth. From helping with the business plan to getting the funding needed to start, the SBDC helped every step of the way. Since it is a free service, Wiersum could not pass up on the tremendous return on investment and recommends the SBDC to anyone who wants to start their own business.
With one full-time and four to five part-time employees for larger events, Wiersum works with many of the breweries in the metropolitan area. These partnerships provide Rustic Nomads with a location to sell food and a following to build clientele. Regulars will sometimes come from across town, and this helps the breweries because it puts more people in their seats as well. Wiersum will plant roots when the time is right as he determines his target customer, traveling around the metropolitan area and narrowing the market.
Although not veteran-owned, Rustic Nomads stems from veterans. “Growing up as military kids and moving every few years, we have had the fortune to live on different continents and experience cuisine that we would not have otherwise known.” Rustic Nomads simply means ‘freedom to make unpretentious delicious food that everyone can enjoy anywhere.’ And they do so with genuine hospitality.
While the food scene is relatively saturated, Wiersum believes that there is room in the industry IF supplying a good product. And that’s the key. Rustic Nomads sources their products locally and emphasizes using sustainable products. Delicious food has become their trademark of excellence — from pastrami to mozzarella — and experiencing sandwiches from the Route 66 burger to the Wanderlust, with delectable sides. Visit https://rusticnomads.us/menu. (The first photo above: Nathan Wiersum (rt) with Jen Findlow who helped Rustic Nomads make their first dollar.)