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Saturday, Dec 3, 2022

Cheap Building Costs Pushing Expansion at Lazy Dog Cafe

Westminster-based Lazy Dog Cafe is taking advantage of some of the cheapest building costs in years to open restaurants.

The company plans to open its fifth location, in Valencia, in December. Next year it also will open in Irvine and Temecula.

“Building is at the cheapest it’s been in years,” said Chief Executive Chris Simms. “One thing you can never change in business is the money you spend up-front.”

Building restaurants cost $3.5 million to $4 million, down from about $4.5 million a few years ago, he said.

Sales have been flat this year compared to a year earlier.

Becoming larger will help profitability through better contracts from suppliers, according to the company.

Simms wants to grow by about two or three restaurants each year with plans to eventually sell off the company.

“The key to growth is to keep the concept fresh, exciting and have high quality,” he said.

The Lazy Dog menu features “items inspired by cultures from around the world,” according to its Web site.

This includes influences from Italy, South America, China, France and the U.S., its Web site said.

Simms describes his restaurants’ decor as “creative rustic,like a mountain cabin with a twist.”

The casual restaurant currently is in Westminster, Torrance, Orange and Thousand Oaks.

Simms and his father, Tom, who operate under the legal name Ldci LLC, run the six-year-old chain.

Grandfather Arthur J. Simms started Irvine-based Mimi’s Cafe in 1978. Its 135 restaurants were sold four years ago to Bob Evans Farms Inc. in Columbus, Ohio, for $182 million.

Before starting Lazy Dog, Simms managed restaurants for Scottsdale-based P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc.

Hip Plungers

Laguna Beach-based Alice Supply Co. hopes the decorative twist it puts on everyday household items will connect with buyers.

It began selling its garden hoses, toolboxes, plungers and brooms, among various other items, three months ago.

“We wanted to take ordinary items and make them extraordinary,” said Chief Executive Maria Barnes.

For about $18, a buyer can purchase one of its plungers with decorative stripes on its handle, which is about $4 more than what someone might pay for a regular one of similar quality, she said.

“It’s priced for the mass market, but we’re certainly not selling that to plumbers,” she said. “This is for the hip.”

With more than 100 accounts with boutique sellers, such as New York’s Henri Bendel Inc., it’s marketing mostly to gift shoppers.

About a third of its sales are online.

Ideally Alice will create a name for itself through the boutique gift stores it sells to and then branch out to larger retailers such as Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters Inc.’s Anthropologie stores.

Beyond that it could look to sellers such as Wisconsin’s Kohl’s Corp. and Minneapolis-based Target Corp., she said.

All of its products are manufactured in China.

Chino-based Quetico LLC does all of its shipping and warehouse work.

It also has about 20 sales representatives it works with around the country.

Future products include a nautical print that it will apply to the handles of hammers and ping-pong balls and paddles.

Locally its products can be found at Laguna Supply in Laguna Beach.

Barnes is a surfwear veteran who once managed Huntington Beach-based Quiksilver Inc.’s Roxy brand. She also was a sportscaster for Walt Disney Co’s ABC and ESPN networks.

Outsourcing Accounting

Irvine-based Peak Virtual Accounting is off to a fast start after launching in June.

The accountant specializes in outsourced work, allowing business owners to scan their financial documents and upload them to Peak Virtual.

Peak Virtual then takes those scanned receipts and creates reports,from payroll to expense,for customers.

Customers pay anywhere from $199 to $2,000 a month for the service, depending on how intense their needs are.

It also does custom computer programming that connects different accounting software.

The company has five full-time employees, though it contracts out most of its programming work.

Founder and Chief Executive Leila Samoodi, a certified public accountant, said the company is eyeing $1 million in sales next year.

Dentists and manufacturers are two of its biggest niches. It also works with credit card processing companies.

“We want to have a few niches but handle a broad-based line of businesses,” Samoodi said.

The service is ideal for business owners who don’t want to spend time on accounting and want an independent source to check work and prevent employee theft, she said.

“Someone who’s passionate about dentistry doesn’t want to worry about work-ers in its office doing accounting,” she said.

It recently launched an aggressive online campaign.

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