Allison and Larry Saltzer moved to Stapleton with a life plan about 10 years ago. Larry started working in food preparation at the age of 11 and pursued it through high school and college. Then upon college graduation, he followed his finance degree to work in the banking industry with a focus on food franchises.
The Saltzers met in Colorado and got married. One night they stopped by a local bar/restaurant called Kyle’s, located at Smith Road and Ulster Street.
“We went in there and thought if we ever need our own kitchen, this would be a great place,” Allison said.
About five years later, Allison and Larry began making plans for having a family, and they started looking for a food business that would take Larry away from his 200 days a year on the road. They drove by Kyle’s and saw a For Sale sign.
“We thought, ‘Omigosh, it was meant to be,’” Allison said. “We had to gut the whole place, but the bones were there and the location was perfect.”
Larry was a chef for many years, and the Saltzers had owned Sassy Suppers, delivering gourmet meals to Stapleton and Lowry. At the same time, they bought a small company that produced four natural food products called Willow Tree that they sold as wholesale products. At that time, they were renting commercial kitchen space. But when they expanded to selling 23 all-vegetarian and all-natural food products to King Soopers, the location at Kyle’s became necessary.
“The products are on the olive and antipasto bars at King Soopers,” Allison explained. “Each King Soopers has from three to six of our products. We have three different kinds of hummus: regular, garlic and roasted red pepper. We have Greek quinoa salad, Southwestern quinoa, a wheat berry salad and Israeli couscous. We are a wholesale provider, so they look like King Soopers products. We have production once a week, so everything is fresh to King Soopers.”
A&L Foods has been successful at this level. It is located next to a halfway house, and whenever possible, the Saltzers employ halfway house residents, many of whom are veterans, in an effort to help them get back on their feet. A&L Foods also donates food to The Crossing, which is part of the Denver Rescue Mission.
Now the Saltzers hope to expand A&L Foods again to provide their healthy, all-natural foods nationally.
“I think we’re doing a really good job responding to customer needs,” Allison said. “Colorado is good for us because it’s healthy. We think the nation is ready for it.”
In order to expand, the Saltzers have applied for a grant through Chase Bank’s Mission Main Street program. The program will provide a $250,000 grant to 12 businesses. The Saltzers already have provided all the financial and business planning information necessary. However, in order to qualify for the grant, a business must garner 250 votes from the public before Nov. 15.
To vote for A&L Foods, go to: www.missionmainstreetgrants.com. Put A&L Foods on the “Vote for your favorite business” line.
“The capital would help us grow and go national,” Allison said. “We don’t use preservatives by choice. Our food is completely fresh.”
Even if they get the Mission Main Street grant, the Saltzers will remain in Stapleton, according to Allison. Their two sons, 7-year-old Skyler and 5-year-old Brody, attend Westerly Creek Elementary School. Larry runs A&L Foods full time, while Allison works from home full time for Microsoft.
“We believe in being a small business and servicing the community,” Allison said. “Our lives are in Stapleton.”