ST. GEORGE – It’s a business model for a new age. It’s a new kind of capitalism that promotes sustainability without sacrificing profit.
Even Stevens Sandwiches is the brainchild of Utah entrepreneur Steven Down who was on hand Thursday for the official opening of the company’s fourth Utah location – 471 E. St. George Blvd. in St. George.
“It’s a new capitalism that my children buy into which I refer to as social capitalism,” Down said. “It’s capitalism with a conscience.”
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Even Stevens donates one sandwich to local nonprofit organizations for every one sold in the form of a cash donation to a special account with food supplier U.S. Foods.
“We’ve donated over 190,000 sandwiches in our first year in business,” said COO Michael McHenry. “It’s pretty amazing.”
St. George nonprofit partners Switchpoint Community Resource Center, Utah Food Bank Southern Distribution Center, the DOVE Center and The Learning Center for Families are all beneficiaries of the new venture.
Carol Hollowell, executive director of Switchpoint, said the food donation will feed the center’s residents – about 80 on an average day – allowing her to divert money previously used for food to other critical programs for clients.
“We’re very excited and they have such a great staff,” Hollowell said of the company. “Steve is a great guy. I see it being a great long-term relationship.”
The sandwich shop-with-a-purpose offers a menu of gourmet sandwiches based on nostalgic recipes that are “leveled-up,” Creative Director Jamie Coates said, to create a craft-casual dining experience.
“We really celebrate creativity when it comes to our menu,” Coates said.
The menu of fresh offerings is drawn from local brands. In St. George, craft beers from Moab Brewery and coffee from River Rock Roasting Company in LaVerkin are offered along with other local food vendors.
Local visual artists have been consulted for the restaurants branding and marketing as well as the interior design.
“So, when you go into St. George, you’ll see an awesome mural on one of our walls that was actually done by a Utah artist Trent Call,” Coates said.
The venue will offer live music several times a week. The paid gigs will be open to local musicians.
The formula for giving is simple. Even Stevens takes all of the dollars it would use for marketing and advertising and diverts them to local nonprofits. Coates said customers and communities enthusiastically support the giving model.
“We are growing through word-of-mouth and we are growing through customer advocacy, but we’re also growing because our nonprofits support us as well,” she said.
The company reports a 700 percent growth in units sold while doubling some store sales during its first year in business.
A focus on local involvement at every level of the process from food to entertainment to local giving is at the core of the Even Stevens model that requires each restaurant to be unique to its locale, to be part of the community it serves.
“If we can accept our responsibility, take our personal responsibility back, then there’s less of a tax burden and we can be more efficient and also have the thrill, the joy that comes from truly serving those in need,” Down said. “It’s the capitalism of the future, I believe.”
- Even Stevens St. George | Website | Facebook | 471 E. St. George Blvd., St. George | Telephone 435-251-6636
- Switchpoint Community Resource Center | Website | Facebook | 948 N. 1300 West, St. George | Telephone: 435-627-4663
- DOVE Center
- The Learning Center for Families
- Utah Food Bank
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