Monthly Archives: January 2017

Capriotti’s founder dies at Las Vegas home at Age 68

If you mention the names Ray Kroc, Dave Thomas, Carl Karcher and Col. Harland Sanders, most Americans will recognize them as giants in the fast food industry.

However, while few people would know the name Lois Margolet, millions would certainly recognize the name Capriotti’s, the sandwich brand she created that would ultimately set the standard for quality.

On Jan. 12, Margolet died in her Las Vegas home as the result of lung cancer. She was 68.

Capriotti’s moved its headquarters from Wilmington, Delaware to Las Vegas in 2008, when Ashley Morris and business partner Jason Smylie acquired the company. Capriotti’s has 105 restaurants, largely in Nevada and the Mid-Atlantic states.

The news spread quickly from one coast to the other as politicians and loyal patrons of the 105 sandwich shops in Las Vegas and the mid-Atlantic states mourned her death.

Cindy Cutler, Margolet’s niece and manager of a Capriotti’s near New Castle, Delaware, called her aunt a “tremendously smart” businesswoman.

“She had an incredible drive and did everything possible to make her dream come true,” Cutler said. “But Lois, the person, was also the most generous and loving person you would ever want to meet.”

Her sister, Ann Gwinn, said: “Those who knew Lois will (remember her) for so much more than a sandwich, but for how she treated everyone around her. She always worried about that faction of business — not just what it would bring to her but how (it was) going to impact somebody else’s life.”

In 1976, at the age of 28, Margolet quit her job at Military Base Management to open the first Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop at 510 N. Union St. in Wilmington, Delaware, the same Little Italy neighborhood where she grew up. Securing a $13,000 bank loan to purchase a $10,257 storefront, Margolet had exactly $2,743 to start her mom-and-pop sub shop, which she named after her grandfather, Philip Capriotti.

“She opened at a time when women in business wasn’t the norm,” Cutler said. “Everybody told her she wouldn’t survive.”

According to a 1976 Census Bureau report, women owned less than 5 percent of all businesses and produced less than 1 percent of total sales in the U.S.

“All the equipment she bought was used, and she even borrowed from some of the local bookies to get what she needed,” Gwinn said. “All she wanted was her own business.”

In the early years, Margolet struggled. There were times when she was forced to go out and get second jobs — side jobs — to make sure she had enough money to keep the business going.

Margolet’s mother even talked her youngest child, Alan, into leaving his job at Rodel, a small automotive repair and maintenance company in Newark, N.J., to help his older sister at the new shop.

What made Capriotti’s different from all of the other sandwich shops was that Margolet insisted on using the finest natural ingredients. She did not use processed meats.

One of Margolet’s biggest successes and what would become her signature creation is the Bobbie, a sandwich made of turkey with cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo on a sub bun — in the spirit of a sandwich her Aunt Bobbie used to serve on the day after Thanksgiving.

Initially, Margolet put the sandwich on the menu for a limited time during the holidays, but it became such a great success that they couldn’t take it off the menu. Today, each shop slow-roasts eight to 10 whole turkeys for 12 hours every night and pulls the meat by hand every morning.

In fact, the Bobbie tastes so good that it was responsible for the USA victory in the 2014 World Cup of Sandwiches final. The Bobbie, the Capriotti’s sandwich appointed as the nation’s standard-bearer, defeated the German Döner from Döner Bistro, taking 61 percent of the 1,476 votes, according to the contest’s judges.

The Capastrami (hot pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and cole slaw) stacked high with premium ingredients is another signature favorite among patrons.

In Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 census, Capriotti’s reported 2015 U.S. system-wide sales of $63.7 million across 90 units, including 13 company locations and 77 franchised restaurants. System average unit volumes in fiscal 2015 were $707,410.

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Company’s goal is to become Silicon Valley of water technology

 

WaterStart, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit partnership of public- and private-sector organizations, is working to diversify the Las Vegas economy, create job growth and provide answers to drought and water quality issues in Nevada. Its goal is for Las Vegas to become the Silicon Valley of water technology.

A spinoff from the Desert Research Institute, WaterStart is a 501(C)6 organization that gets its funding from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. It also receives matching funds for specific projects from its public and private partners, Southern Nevada and Truckee Meadows water authorities, MGM Resorts, Winnemucca Farms, LVGEA, Reno Sparks Tahoe Economic Development Authority, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno.

Entering its second year of funding, WaterStart was networking with more than 1,500 water conservation professionals from the U.S., Canada and Mexico during the ninth annual Water Smart Innovations Conference and Exposition at the South Point in October.

Nathan Allen, executive director of the WaterStart initiative, explained that there are three basic drivers to the organization: to solve water challenges in Nevada through the use of new and innovative technology, build partnerships between private industry and the academic community and diversify the economy by attracting new businesses that create jobs.

To find these innovative technologies, Allen, with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental science and geology and a master’s degree in environmental education, has participated in the Governor’s Trade Mission, most recently to Australia, in an effort to facilitate an exchange of ideas.

The WaterStart team is not looking at conceptual ideas; it is only interested in prototypes that have been proven in the laboratory but have not had the opportunity to bring the product to market.

In the past 23 months, the four-member WaterStart team has vetted more than 150 technologies, received proposals from more than 60 companies that want to work with them and funded eight projects.

One of the projects is the installation of more than 3 miles of leak detection equipment on the water line that runs below the Las Vegas Strip. Edchologics, a Canadian company, is the first to develop this technology using a special microphone called a hydrophone that can hear water escaping. Another company, Syrinix, headquartered in the U.K., also is testing their TrunkMinder and PipeMinder on water lines in the valley to monitor pressure and flow data.

WaterStart is also responsible for bringing IONEX, a California company that builds customized, small-scale water treatment plants to Nevada. IONEX plans to build an assembly and research and development facility in North Las Vegas, and estimates are this company will bring $2.5 million in tax revenue to the state.

IMGeospatial, a British company, has worked with utility companies throughout Europe to supply water managers with automatic cloud-based analytics for their internal geospatial platforms. WaterStart paired the company with the Desert Research Institute to utilize its automated, patent-pending flood-modeling solutions. WaterStart is also close to completing a deal with IMGeospatial that will establish a Las Vegas branch office to house a software development team.

Winnemucca Farms, the largest agricultural producer in the state with 35,000 acres of irrigated land, has adopted water-saving irrigation technologies from around the world. Working with WaterStart, it is experimenting with a company that uses drone technology to measure plant stress from the air and improve irrigation precision while saving even more water.

All 17 counties in Nevada have been under a Drought Emergency Declaration since 2012. Besides having a lack of water for drinking, the drought has caused major problems with the buildup of nitrates in the groundwater.

Its goal is for Las Vegas to become the Silicon Valley of water technology.

A spinoff from the Desert Research Institute, WaterStart is a 501(C)6 organization that gets its funding from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. It also receives matching funds for specific projects from its public and private partners, Southern Nevada and Truckee Meadows water authorities, MGM Resorts, Winnemucca Farms, LVGEA, Reno Sparks Tahoe Economic Development Authority, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and University of Nevada, Reno.

Entering its second year of funding, WaterStart was networking with more than 1,500 water conservation professionals from the U.S., Canada and Mexico during the ninth annual Water Smart Innovations Conference and Exposition at the South Point in October.

Nathan Allen, executive director of the WaterStart initiative, explained that there are three basic drivers to the organization: to solve water challenges in Nevada through the use of new and innovative technology, build partnerships between private industry and the academic community and diversify the economy by attracting new businesses that create jobs.

To find these innovative technologies, Allen, with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental science and geology and a master’s degree in environmental education, has participated in the Governor’s Trade Mission, most recently to Australia, in an effort to facilitate an exchange of ideas.

The WaterStart team is not looking at conceptual ideas; it is only interested in prototypes that have been proven in the laboratory but have not had the opportunity to bring the product to market.

In the past 23 months, the four-member WaterStart team has vetted more than 150 technologies, received proposals from more than 60 companies that want to work with them and funded eight projects.

One of the projects is the installation of more than 3 miles of leak detection equipment on the water line that runs below the Las Vegas Strip. Edchologics, a Canadian company, is the first to develop this technology using a special microphone called a hydrophone that can hear water escaping. Another company, Syrinix, headquartered in the U.K., also is testing their TrunkMinder and PipeMinder on water lines in the valley to monitor pressure and flow data.

WaterStart is also responsible for bringing IONEX, a California company that builds customized, small-scale water treatment plants to Nevada. IONEX plans to build an assembly and research and development facility in North Las Vegas, and estimates are this company will bring $2.5 million in tax revenue to the state.

IMGeospatial, a British company, has worked with utility companies throughout Europe to supply water managers with automatic cloud-based analytics for their internal geospatial platforms. WaterStart paired the company with the Desert Research Institute to utilize its automated, patent-pending flood-modeling solutions. WaterStart is also close to completing a deal with IMGeospatial that will establish a Las Vegas branch office to house a software development team.

Winnemucca Farms, the largest agricultural producer in the state with 35,000 acres of irrigated land, has adopted water-saving irrigation technologies from around the world. Working with WaterStart, it is experimenting with a company that uses drone technology to measure plant stress from the air and improve irrigation precision while saving even more water.

All 17 counties in Nevada have been under a Drought Emergency Declaration since 2012. Besides having a lack of water for drinking, the drought has caused major problems with the buildup of nitrates in the groundwater.