The co-founders of Noble Wave, a planned brew pub and pizzeria in the “conscious capital” mold, are closing in on financing their concept, and are beginning to formulate plans for a foundation that would invest in the community.
Co-founder Riley Vannoy says he and business partner Karl Schultz have raised $500,000 so far from friends, family and other close contacts, and are now branching out to professional investors to raise as little as $30,000 or as much as $300,000, depending on the lease negotiations for their location, which they hope will be in Mid City.
“With our unique business model, we’ve definitely encountered some skepticism along the way,” Vannoy says. “But even that has been really good. Iron sharpens iron.”
The Noble Wave concept involves a “social impact component,” he says. The staff will be paid salary and benefits—Vannoy declined to say how much the salaries will be—and rather than eliminating tips altogether, as some restaurants around the country have done, the restaurant will donate some of the money into community projects like local events and beautification projects.
The mechanism for donating the money will likely be a foundation, which the two hope to co-launch with other organizations sometime before the restaurant opens next spring. They have had some early meetings with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, which declined to comment for this story, and other groups like Geaux Rouge, which has put on events such as the Perkins Road Burger Fest and the Shogun Taco Project.
Vannoy compares the Noble Wave concept to the philosophies surrounding companies like Whole Foods, which is propped up on organic and responsibly sourced food, and TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair it sells. Vannoy notes the restaurant concept, which is new to Baton Rouge, has been successful elsewhere, and argues it will be profitable and sustainable in the long term.
“We’re not paying everybody $100,000, but it’s going to be a good living salary,” he says. “And that helps us hire some really experienced people who are part of our company, part of our brand.”
Vannoy says they have their sights set on a location on Government Street in Mid City, and negotiations are ongoing.
The Noble Wave crew, which now includes several people with experience in the service industry, beer brewing and marketing, is currently operating what amounts to a “nano-brewery” in Vannoy’s garage. The team tastes the latest batches of beer and pizza recipes during work meetings while they plan for a spring 2018 opening date.