This week is National Small Business Week, a tradition dating back to 1963 that recognizes the contributions of American entrepreneurs and small business owners. Here are a few recent features from Community Impact Newspaper that tell the stories of local business owners.
Judy Sicola opened her first flower shop in 1983. In the afternoons, the young entrepreneur would pick up her first-grade daughter from school and bring her back to the store while she continued to work.
“I’d hang out and watch TV and have my snacks,” said Shawna Thaler, Sicola’s daughter. “I’ve been around it my whole life. I really grew up in the floral industry.”
Today, the two women operate four locations of Sicola’s Florist in addition to a 15,000-square-foot design center, the hub of the business that puts together 200-300 orders daily.
According to 4Ward Defense owner Eric Ward, the 1.15 million license to carry holders in Texas are 14 times less likely than the average person to be convicted of a criminal offense.
“You’ve got a lot of firearms portrayed in movies as something that’s bad or dangerous, and I think a lot of people forget that’s the first thing you expect a police officer to have to help when you’re in danger,” Ward said.
In Texas, license to carry holders go through a criminal background check and have fingerprints and photos kept on file with the Department of Public Safety, he said. 4Ward Defense, which launched about four years ago, offers classes for three different groups.
Running a restaurant that offers top-quality seafood and steak can be a demanding endeavor, but with hard work, dedication and a hardy time commitment, Sam and Linda Sok are making it work.
The husband and wife duo opened Sam’s Seafood and Steak on Grant Road in Cypress in March 2016.
“Hard work is the key to everything,” Linda said. “If you want everything to be as fresh as possible, you’re going to have to put the work in.”
When Sarah, Gwen and Rick Franke decided to open a restaurant in the Cypress/Tomball area last year, they agreed they wanted to give residents something they could not find anywhere else.
The trio opened Murdoch’s Backyard Pub on March 30 with the promise of bringing diners something that is “beyond normal.”
“We call it beyond normal because it’s stuff that people are familiar with but with our own spin added to it,” Sarah said.
After years of owning and operating Lucky’s Pub, Travis Adair and Anthony Wegmann were ready for a new family-friendly venture.
After purchasing a 5-acre plot off Mueschke Road more than a year ago, the duo envisioned parents sharing craft cocktails around fire pits while children played on the lawn, friends enjoying Sunday brunch on the patio and private events in the wine room.
“It’s a complete 180 from Lucky’s Pub,” Wegmann said. “Maybe that’s because we have 10-year-olds now, and we have a little different mindset.”
Ever since opening his restaurant in Cypress in January 2016, Jon Felicia has been looking to spread the word about Vero, which means “true” or “real” in Italian.
A Cy-Fair native, Felicia opened Vero Italian Kitchen across the street from Cypress Woods High School, where he graduated in 2009. After working his way up the ranks at the Conroe location of Vero, Felicia expressed interest to founder Les Lemmons in starting a Cypress franchise.
The first year of business went very well, Felicia said.
“Dinner has been a huge hit, and we’re steadily climbing in lunches,” he said.
Taxidermist Joe Lesh said he approaches his work from the perspective of an artist: both professions require consummate artistic ability and both are aimed at making memories and preserving a moment in time.
An international, national and state award-winning taxidermist, Joe and his son, Joey, toil in their Cypress shop, Sportsmen’s Taxidermy, honing their skills while making plans to expand their business.
“We’re planning to eventually have a total of 7,000 square feet here, including a 1,200-square-foot trophy room,” he said.
Cy-Fair—with its abundance of new development and freshly paved roads—does not have many businesses that can say they have been around for 60 years. One of the few, Barcelona Sports, celebrated its 60th anniversary earlier this year.
With a number of family members at the helm, the sporting goods emporium has expanded over the years from its first location in Spring Branch to an operation that services the entire state.
Sam Barcelona, the company’s founder, opened Barcelona Sporting Goods in 1956 as a general store selling hardware, hunting and fishing gear.
With more than 60 labels from countries such as France, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa, Flying Vine Wine Bar & Bistro opened Dec. 5 with Southern creole inspiration.
Cypress native Matthew Mitchell and Jersey Village native LeaErin Hurley own and operate the business in the Boardwalk at Towne Lake.
“We both wanted to stick to our roots with a country style,” Hurley said. “We like New Orleans, we like jazz, so that led to the Cajun French menu.”
The Herreras have only been in the Cypress restaurant industry for 10 years, but the family is well known throughout the community.
Eric Lippmann, general manager for Marvino’s Italian Kitchen, the family’s newest culinary creation, said many customers come into the restaurant only knowing it is another product of the Herreras.
“It is a passion for food and service [founder] David [Herrera] has created in all of his restaurants,” Lippmann said. “[Customers] really appreciate the family [and] what they have done, which is putting together a quality restaurant.”