A mother-daughter duo is expanding their neighborhood Ahwatukee cafe, Pomegranate Cafe, into Central Phoenix and they are looking for the public’s help.
Marlene and Cassie Tolman launched their Indiegogo campaign to raise $55,000 to expand their original kitchen in Ahwatukee while they open a new restaurant in Central Phoenix.
“We are excited to open in Central Phoenix because it is a forward-thinking, creative community that supports local businesses,” daughter Cassie Tolman said. “That area is growing fast and we want to be a part of that growth.”
In one week, POM raised over $12,000. Contributions from the Indiegogo site and a generous private donor have already put the gracious owners at 21 percent of their goal. “We are so grateful for the support of this community,” Cassie said.
For certain amounts that people donate, the cafe offers package incentives.
A $100 donation earns contributors a pack of seeds, a POM Gratitude Party invitation, their name on the POM LOVE Wall, an AZ Mug by Lafayette Ceramics and three more items. Packages get bigger with specific dollar amounts found on the Indiegogo site.
One donor became a POM LOVE Partner with a $10,000 contribution, entitling them to free Pomegranate Cafe food and drink for life and then some.
At the end of the campaign, the owners plan to throw a gratitude party for the people who have supported them from the beginning. It will have food, drinks and community art projects to take part in, according to Cassie.
As for marketing strategies, the Tolmans are using their hearts.
“We always try to speak from our hearts and be creative and collaborative in our sharing,” Cassie said. “We are very grass roots – social media and chalkboards are our marketing tools. We have always relied on our community to spread the word for us and they have done a very good job at that.”
Whether or not the Tolmans achieve their goal, they still plan to open a location in Central Phoenix. The donations they are collecting will contribute to the expansion of their original kitchen in Ahwatukee.
“We have expanded twice already at that [Ahwatukee] location,” Cassie said. “Our little hotline has stayed the same size since we opened seven years ago. We get very busy some days and our little hotline just can’t keep up with the crowds.”
A mother who boasts on her website that she “raised five children on healthy, wholesome, homemade meals,” Marlene has long been involved in the nonprofit sector.
She helped create the nonprofit Kids Voting, which has grown into a national organization in over 40 states. After her children were grown, she earned a certificate in patisserie and baking from Scottsdale Culinary Institute’s Cordon Bleu.
Cassie is a graduate of the chef’s training program in healthful cooking at the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. Her experience has ranged from preparing private meals for individuals, children and communities to traditional restaurants.
She describes herself as someone who “loves playful collaboration and making sweet, colorful messes.”
When Marlene and Cassie set out to open the cafe in 2010, they envisioned a restaurant where they could combine healthy foods and delicious flavors in a creative eco-friendly environment. They describe their food as handcrafted, unique, local, organic, vegan/vegetarian and much more.
Now, POM has become a beloved addition to the community. “We like to think we created a space, not only with delicious food, but a space that people can feel safe in, they can celebrate here, or work through other feelings here,” Marlene said.
“It’s a challenging but exciting feeling to know that we have established enough here and the quality is high here, and the employees stable and wonderful and so that we can open a second location knowing that the high quality we have expressed so far will stay intact,” Marlene said.