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bartlett-express.com

BUSINESS

Thursday, April 28, 2016 | 11B

Quintessential Sweets unveils gourmet summer goodies

By Carolyn Bahm

Express Editor

Hot summer months have customers lining up at Quintessential Sweets for the chilled confections they can enjoy to beat the heat. They will find his shop in the old Stinkerbell’s location in Bartlett. It has

a walk-up window and

picnic tables for customers who want to sit down and savor their treats. Flavored Snow has the texture of its name, smooth and fine-grained snow, with fruity flavors. Favorites include cherry and blue raspberry, Wedding Cake, Tiger’s Blood, Jolly Rancher and lemonade, made the old- fashioned way with fresh- squeezed lemons. Owner Christopher Gray also has experimental flavors for foodie cus- tomers who like to taste something new: Try the Avocado-Lada, made with coconut, pineapple and lime juice but no added sugar. A generous slice of Key Lime Pie or cheesecake on

a stick is just the ticket for heartier appetites, and classics like caramel and candied apples are also part of the menu, to name just a few. Gray and his wife, Cassandra, opened the business last July and saw their customer traffic spike up during the hottest months. The seasonal busi- ness is open eight to nine months each year, includ- ing Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day when the chocolate-dipped strawber- ries are a big hit. Gray himself is the one behind the food service, and his wife handles the

is the one behind the food service, and his wife handles the Owner Christopher Gray prides

Owner Christopher Gray prides himself on the quality of treats he offers his customers.

bookkeping and social media presence for their business. He invites customers to visit his website or Facebook page, then stop by, look over the menu and ask for a sample. “I just believe in treat- ing everybody the way I want to be treated,” he said.

He enjoys making his customers happy with the special treats, and running his own business is very satisfying. “I’ve always been entre- preneurial-minded,” he said. “It started out when I was young. I would try to sell everything.” In high school he would sell a mix of sugar and Koolaid or be the potato chip provider for hungry classmates. Gray is an experienced entrepreneur, having previ- ously operated J’s Italian Ice at Wolfchase Galleria up until about five years ago. That’s when he

opened a bungee jumping operation that was a suc- cess until the economy crashed. He closed the bungee jumping business around 2013. He also still has his jan- itorial service, Janitor Pro, and his brother will be tak- ing that over soon. Quintessential Sweets was slow last summer until word spread. Then he served about 2,000 cus- tomers a month at peak. Flavored snow is his most popular product. It’s distinctive from crushed or shaved ice because the tex- ture really is as fine- grained as snow. His second best-seller is the Q Bar, an ice cream bar drizzled with chocolate and caramel and topped with pecans. The cheese- cake on a stick ranks about third among his customers. The business recently inroduced homemade ice cream, and customers are also enjoying chocolate- dipped Oreos, he said.

CONTACT

Quintessential Sweets 5980 Bartlett Center Drive, Bartlett Hours: noon- 9 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., noon-9:30 p.m., Fri.- Sat., closed Mon. (901) 361-3449 Email: info@ quintessentialsweets. com Website:

quintessentialsweets. com On Facebook as Quintessential Sweets Owner:

Christopher Gray

Quintessential Sweets also participates in rewards programs like a digital punch card and the Grizzlies Reward Bank. People who don’t live in Bartlett also will see Quintessential Sweets at area special events, such as this weekend’s Arlington in April.

special events, such as this weekend’s Arlington in April. C hocolate-dipped frozen banana with sprinkles already

Chocolate-dipped frozen banana with sprinkles already look like a smile before they put one on customers’ faces.

look like a smile before they put one on customers’ faces. “Flavored Snow,” a dairy-free Italian

“Flavored Snow,” a dairy-free Italian ice, is available in strawberry-lemonade, mango, blue raspberry, cherry and many more flavors.

mango, blue raspberry, cherry and many more flavors. Gooey Butter Bars have a chewy butter cookie

Gooey Butter Bars have a chewy butter cookie crust topped with a thick layer of pecans, and a gooey, buttery filling, all baked into a flaky bar and served chilled. Also available with soft-serve ice cream.

and a gooey, buttery filling, all baked into a flaky bar and served chilled. Also available

12B |April 28, 2016

12B |April 28, 2016 Business briefs MAAR names top performers MEMPHIS – The Memphis Area Association

Businessbriefs

MAAR names top performers

MEMPHIS – The Memphis Area Association of Realtors Commercial Council honored the top performers in commercial real estate for 2015 at the 15th Annual Pinnacle Awards gala held earlier this month at the Memphis Botanic Garden. Coming away with the evening’s highest honors were Commercial Hall of Fame inductee Phillip McNeill, Commercial Broker of the Year Joe Steffner, of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, and Legacy Award winner Gene Woods. The Community Impact

Award went to Crosstown Concourse. Awards also were hand- ed out in Broker-of-the- Year categories as follows:

Industrial Tenant:

Russ Westlake, Jones Lang LaSalle Industrial Landlord:

Tim Mashburn, Colliers International Memphis Office Sales and Industrial Sales: Johnny Lamberson, CB Richard Ellis Memphis Multifamily Sales:

Blake Pera, ARA Newmark Retail Sales: Brian Califf, NAI Saig Company Office Leases Tenant:

Kelly Truitt, CB Richard Ellis Memphis Office Leases

Landlord: Ron Kastner, CB Richard Ellis Memphis Retail Leases Tenant:

Robert Sloan, The Shopping Center Group Retail Leases Landlord: Jason Polley, StoneCrest Investments Land Sales: Stephen Steinbach, UrbanInsites Newcomer of the Year: Austin Ehrat, CB Richard Ellis Memphis Grit & Grind: Tanis Hackmeyer, Hackmeyer Realty

MLGW: Winter bills were lowest since 2007

MEMPHIS — Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division customers contin- ued to reap the benefits of low natural gas prices, according to MLGW

The Bartlett Express

spokesmen. The average residential natural gas bill for the winter of 2015-16 was $54.11, down 59 per- cent or $78.12 since peak- ing in 2007. As a result, the average total winter residential utility bill has also fallen 30 percent, or $67.70, to $157.23 com- pared to 2007-08. For the past several years, MLGW has posted the lowest combined resi- dential utility bill among 50 cities surveyed. That trend continued this year. “That’s something which customers can appreciate because it improves their quality of life and their standard of living because they don’t have to spend so much on utilities,” said Jerry Collins Jr., MLGW presi- dent and CEO.

of living because they don’t have to spend so much on utilities,” said Jerry Collins Jr.,

The Bartlett Express

BUSINESS

April 28, 2016 | 13B

Bluff City Escape Rooms hosts lock-ins for puzzle lovers

By Linda Cooper

Special to the Express

Locked in a room with no obvious way out, you and your friends brain- storm for solutions as the clock ticks. That’s what visiting an “escape room” is like. Jeannie Cockrell, owner of Bluff City Escape Rooms at 6759 Stage Road in Bartlett, gave some insights into this innova- tive and trendy form of immersive, interactive, family-oriented entertain- ment. The name may be a lit- tle confusing for those unfamiliar with the con- cept. Cockrell had one customer stop by to ask if they sold tornado shelters. Her business offers some- thing completely different. An escape room is a themed room with a back- ground story, where groups of people are locked inside and given tools and clues to solve riddles and puzzles in order to escape the room within a set time frame. Customers are asked to refrain from using cell phones to Google answers. There is an intercom in the room to ask for clues to solve the puzzles, if need- ed, although most groups are keen on solving the puzzles on their own. “We feel we are bring- ing in a different, innova- tive and new way for peo- ple to have fun while sup- porting a local business,” she said. Cockrell and her busi- ness partner and brother Michael Hart developed the business idea after they enjoyed trying an escape room in Jackson, Tenn. They couldn’t stop talking about all the little things

They couldn’t stop talking about all the little things A BOVE: Two triumphant guests wave the

ABOVE: Two triumphant guests wave the clue they just found. BELOW: Guests in the bistro room enjoyed a riveting 45-minute puzzle together.

bistro room enjoyed a riveting 45-minute puzzle together. that happened in the room, how much fun

that happened in the room, how much fun it was, and what a fun job it would be to create something simi- lar. “We knew we had to bring this to Bartlett,” she said. Open since March 24, the business has grown exponentially each week, mostly through word-of- mouth. Currently, the bistro- and theater-themed rooms

are drawing a wide range of groups. The rooms accommodate 8-10 people respectively, with a 45- minute time frame set to escape the room. The cost for the experience is $17 per person. Cockrell said she and her brother hope to have a total of five different rooms set up by the end of June, just in time for sum- mer. She was a theater major,

and her business partner- brother has a background in graphic design. They combined their creative talents to create something unique for Bartlett. “Themes can be pur- chased and set up through franchises, but all of our themes and rooms are completely original,” Cockrell said. “We shop thrift and antique stores and repurpose items. You aren’t going to see these

CONTACT

Bluff City Escape Rooms 6579 Stage Road, Bartlett Hours: 3-9 p.m. Thurs., noon-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 3-6 p.m. Sun. (901) 384-1864 bluffcityescape rooms@gmail.com Website: bluffcity escaperooms.com On Facebook a s Bluff City Escape Rooms Owners: Jeannie Cockrell and Michael Hart

rooms anywhere else.” She stressed that escape rooms can be fun for groups of all ages. Other common family-friendly activities such as bowling and putt-putt golf can have limitations for participants, but parents, grandparents and children all bring dif- ferent strengths when solv- ing puzzles together. “We think this is a great avenue for groups, offering more than going out to dinner or sitting in a movie theater where there isn’t a lot of social interaction since people can’t talk to each other,” Cockrell said. “For a date night, friends, family or co-workers we offer something different.” Millennials in particular (young people ages 18-33) enjoy this immersive entertainment, as well as the instant gratification of solving puzzles and escap- ing the room, she said. The experience also can be addictive. One cus- tomer’s recent visit was a 10th escape room adven- ture.

A group of students

from the University of Memphis has been the quickest so far to escape a room with the help of only one clue in 12 minutes, 18 seconds. Pressure builds as the clock is ticking, but she said people still feel they get their money’s worth when they are tri-

umphant. Christen Richardson and a group of her friends also had an adventure recently with Bluff City Escape Rooms. “We really enjoyed it,” she said. “It was different, unique, and a great work- out for the brain. It was huge fun, refreshing and great for young people here in Bartlett.” She added, “We were pumped when we got out.” The group only had six minutes to spare on the clock. “It made you think. It was fun.” Another recent cus- tomer was Lindsay Oakley, who was among a group of three couples, friends from her church. “We were looking for something fun and creative to do,” she said. “It was a lot of fun. I have nothing to compare it to. It was cool and creative and I recommend it for some- thing different.” Her group escaped with 10 minutes, 45 seconds to spare.

“I would definitely do it

again,” Richardson said. “Bluff City Escape Rooms was a much better value compared to others — entertaining and cool for a girls’ night out or family

night.” Bluff City Escape Rooms offers a 10 percent discount to active duty military personnel, firemen and policemen.

night.” Bluff City Escape Rooms offers a 10 percent discount to active duty military personnel, firemen
night.” Bluff City Escape Rooms offers a 10 percent discount to active duty military personnel, firemen
night.” Bluff City Escape Rooms offers a 10 percent discount to active duty military personnel, firemen
night.” Bluff City Escape Rooms offers a 10 percent discount to active duty military personnel, firemen

14B |April 28, 2016

BUSINESS

The Bartlett Express

Unique Catering embraces vision of elegant events

By Carolyn Bahm

Express Editor

Eli Williams has a dis- tinctive vision for the event center and catering business he debuted in Bartlett in August 2015. He and his staff of seven are eager to please their customers, and they all believe in what they’re try- ing to accomplish. “I tell them we are the most unique team in the area,” Williams said. “I named it ‘Unique’ after And the only way to make it unique is to strive to make it the very best it can be.” Before he opened Unique Catering and Event Center, Williams was already a veteran event coordinator with 16-17 years’ experience. He was the director of facilities and labor management for Hudson Hall at Historic Central Station in Memphis. He opened his own business after he retired from the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA). His center has a small banquet hall for 30-40 people and another that will seat up to 300. “Our main objective is to create an environment so all of our guests would really enjoy and be proud to come to the event,” he said. “It seems to really be working.” His customers appreci- ate having the space he

working.” His customers appreci- ate having the space he CONTACT Unique Catering and Event Center 2751

CONTACT

Unique Catering and Event Center 2751 Bartlett Blvd., Bartlett (901) 937-0828 Email: uniqueeventcenter@att.net Website: uniquecateringandeventcenter.com Owner: Eli Williams

offers in a safe city, he said. “They love this area. I’m proud to be in Bartlett.”

The business offers a bridal dressing room, com- mercial kitchen and on-site catering, as well as con-

com- mercial kitchen and on-site catering, as well as con- venient parking. Amenities include a bar,
com- mercial kitchen and on-site catering, as well as con- venient parking. Amenities include a bar,

venient parking. Amenities include a bar, stage, podi- um, microphone, and dec- orative touches such as centerpieces and a draped ceiling. One room has a projector and 100-inch screen, and the other has a 40-inch TV to display images or videos. Weddings are the house speciality, but Unique Catering also does busi- ness retreats, family reunions, parties and more.

AT FAR LEFT: Owner Eli Williams has built the catering and banquet hall business of his dreams and continues to enhance the decor for his customers. AT LEFT: Seen from directly beneath the lighting centerpiece, the draped ceiling is a recent addition at Unique Catering and Event Center. ABOVE: The business has rooms of different sizes to accommodate cus- tomers who want to host large events or inti- mate gatherings. Photos by John Collins.

The personal touch is important to him, and he strives to stay attentive to his customer base. He invites people to visit his center and get the “wow” factor in person. “I love them all and I tell them how much I appreciate them just stop- ping by, even if they don’t book for that day,” he said. That sincere desire to serve the customer is important to Williams.

“It makes his day to see

a customer have a nice

time at his event center. “The initial object is not just to make money. It’s to be in this business to see people have a great time in their lives.” He continued, “God is blessing us. When he blesses me to bless other people, I guarantee that’s what I'm going to do. That’s really what it’s all about.”

Snappy Computer: A one-stop shop for tech buys, repairs and help

By Linda Cooper

Special to the Express

Tory Bennett and his company, Snappy Computer Enterprises, have been a fixture in the Bartlett area for more than 15 years, and they recently moved to a new location at 5786 Stage Road, Suite 8. The firm offers a wide range of computing and information technology services fromsoftware and hardware to connectivity, engineering and mainte- nance. The company also provides website construc- tion and e-commerce solu- tions for individual con- sumers and businesses large and small. Snappy Computer has extensive expertise helping medical and dental offices with their specific comput- ing needs, particularly with data and billing man- agement, according to office manager Brian Heard. Dr. Shirley Leech has used Snappy Computer for her medical practice and personal computer needs for 12 years. “When I was with a large group medical prac-

CONTACT

Snappy Computer Enterprises 29 Elmore Park Road, Suite #8, Bartlett Office hours:

9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (901) 385-9004 Email: info@ snappycomputer.com Website: snappy computer.com On Facebook as Snappy Computer Enterprises Owner: Tory Bennett

tice, Tory connected all of our offices, hooked up our Internet, and installed a special billing system,” she says. She adds, “He built a computer for me 12 years ago that’s still working at home. I live in Marion, Ark., and I know he would be there if I had a prob- lem. All I have to do is call. He fixes anything that goes wrong.” Even more, Leech says, “He developed a wonder- ful website for me. I have

says, “He developed a wonder- ful website for me. I have Jonathan Stonecipher, lead tech at

Jonathan Stonecipher, lead tech at Snappy Computer, works on a wiring harness for this desktop PC’s power supply.

a long form that my patients need to fill out, and now patients can download it. I had a prob- lem with my Microsoft Word software and I noticed that he fixed it at 12 o’clock at night. I can’t praise Tory enough.” The company provides technology support over the phone or via email, through remote computer access and on-site work. On a daily basis Snappy Computer can handle everything from Comcast connectivity to screen and phone repairs, as well as wiring and website design.

The company even repairs TVs and printers, and it has a recycling programso people can bring in their outdated computers, elec- tronics and used batteries. Recently, computer users have been reporting a resurgence of malware or ransomware. A customer may click on a seemingly standard email, but it includes ransomware that encrypts and locks infor- mation on a computer and holds it for ransom, seek- ing payment in bitcoins (a form of internet currency). “It’s pretty bad, and our biggest challenge with cus-

tomers. We’ve even had to rebuild entire servers,” he said. He hopes for Snappy Computer to offer a free class at the Bartlett senior center in the future, pro- viding advice and best practices on basic comput- er safety. “We urge people to be diligent and scan for virus- es on their computers every day,” Heard stresses. He says even Apple com- puters can be vulnerable to viruses. As a local small busi- ness, Snappy Computer can offer its services at a more economical rate than other big box chain stores, he says. The company’s rate averages $90 an hour, but can be less with a con- tract. “What makes us differ- ent is that we are there for our customers, and we do our best to keep them up and running,” Heard said. “We are up front — we earnestly and honestly want to help our cus- tomers. We work with our customers to do what’s right.” Jill Featherstone, office manager for Hillcrest

Animal Hospital in

Bartlett, says the business been a Snappy Computer customer for five years. Their website was recently hacked. “We’ve been pleased with how they have helped us,” she says. “They are not far from us so it’s very con- venient. They came out that same afternoon to get our website up and going.” David Webb is the owner of Sonlight Studios,

a Memphis-based TV

broadcast production com- pany, and has been a cus- tomer of Snappy Computer for six to seven years. “Tory and his team are the best,” he says. “I use one computer company for everything. You can buy a mop online, but with com- puters you need people to hold your hand, whether you’re buying a laptop for your daughter or a com- puter for your business. They are there for you answering questions and making everything work. They do a fabulous job.” Snappy Computer offers

a 10 percent discount to

teachers with Bartlett City Schools and all active duty military personnel.

Computer offers a 10 percent discount to teachers with Bartlett City Schools and all active duty

The Bartlett Express

BUSINESS

April 28, 2016 | 15B

Absolute Comfort serves cool customers for past 13 years

By Judy Crump

Special to the Express

Worried that your heat- ing and cooling system might not be up to par for the upcoming roasting Southern summer? Absolute Comfort Heat- ing & Air Conditioning LLC wants to help you be more comfortable, and they have plenty of ways to make that happen. Absolute Comfort installs and services all makes and models of HVAC equip- ment, from new complete installations including ductwork to renovations, expansions or additions. They also replace old, out- dated equipment. And right now, cus- tomers can get a complete basic checkup of their existing HVAC systems for $49, just in time to get ready for summer. The family owned and operated company has been serving the Memphis area since 2003. Owners Jeff Whitehorn and Ed Taylor make it their busi- ness to see that every cus- tomer is 100 percent satis- fied. “We guarantee it,” Whitehorn said. Besides basic installa- tion, Absolute Comfort pays close attention to things like balancing air flow in the system and ensuring indoor air quality. “In this particular geo- graphic area, there’s a lot of interest in variable speed technology in blow- ers,” Whitehorn said. “This technology can eliminate hot spots and cold spots, and continually cleans the air using a fil- tration system. And if it’s run for longer periods, it actually helps your entire system use less energy.” Variable speed technol- ogy can be installed on its

CONTACT

Absolute Comfort Heating & A/C LLC 3711 Homewood Road, Memphis Open 7:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri. (Emergency service, after hours and week- ends available.) (901) 375-0998 Website:

absolutecomfort hvac.com On Facebook as Absolute Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning LLC Owners: Jeff Whitehorn & Ed Taylor

Conditioning LLC Owners: Jeff Whitehorn & Ed Taylor F rom left, owners Jeff Whitehorn and Ed

From left, owners Jeff Whitehorn and Ed Taylor stand by the business they’ve built, serving customers in the greater Memphis area since 2003.

one contractor in my book,” she said. She’s known one of the owners, Taylor, for about 25 years, and she trusts the company to handle heating and air work for her com- pany’s commercial and residential properties and also for her own personal residence. “I’ve recommended them to I can’t tell you how many people,” she said.

How to thrive

The company’s dedica- tion to quality helped them survive lean economic times when other business- es faltered. In 2008, the housing market nationwide took a huge hit as the economy stumbled and fell. “It sure did,” Whitehorn agreed. But Absolute Comfort weathered the economic storm by falling back on our principles.” Goodwin agreed on how the company man- aged through tough times. “I’d say it’s pretty remark- able. They did things to flourish and prosper and grow during the recession, or depression, as I call it.” Whitehorn said, “We focused on paying atten- tion to details while taking good care of our core basic customers. And help from the Good Lord.” Now that the economy is recovering from 2008, business has been improv- ing for Absolute Comfort too. So much so that they are in the process of expanding and are now looking to hire new quali- fied and experienced serv- ice technicians and installers. Goodwin said that anyone interested in applying is invited to con- tact Absolute Comfort’s office. Whether you need warming up or cooling off, Absolute Comfort has your comfort in mind.

Maintenance and prevention

So is there anything a customer can do help him- self with maintaining an HVAC system? Whitehorn says keeping filters changed regularly is criti- cal, and having your sys- tem cleaned and main- tained at least once a year makes a huge difference. “We offer affordable preferred customer plans or preventive maintenance plans, in which we’ll come out twice a year, in the spring to check the cooling system and in the fall to check the heating system,” he said.

and in the fall to check the heating system,” he said. own with existing HV AC

own with existing HVAC systems. Another advance in HVAC technology that is popular in this area is the programmable thermostat with auto-changeover fea- tures and the capability of wifi control, he said. Such thermostats allow owners to set temperatures auto- matically, adjusting to the

actual temperature. Whitehorn said this fea- ture comes especially in handy in the spring and fall, when temperature variations can be wide and unpredictable, even over the course of a single day. And it’s surprisingly affordable. “We can install a pro- grammable thermostat without wifi for under $300,” he said. “And it can be installed on any brand of system.” While Absolute Com- fort can and does work with any brand of HVAC system, it is also a factory authorized Carrier dealer, and they put a huge emphasis on continuing education for their techni- cians. According to Whitehorn, fewer than 10 percent of Carrier dealers

are factory authorized, which requires regular retesting. “We have NATE-certi- fied technicians who are tested on their knowledge of systems regularly, with retesting twice a year after continuing education,” Whitehorn said. NATE refers to North American Technical Excellence, the nation’s largest non-profit HVAC certification organi- zation. He says that Absolute Comfort’s technicians are continually being trained to improve the service they can provide to their customers.

Happy customers

David Goodwin Jr. , owner of Goodwin Homes LLC, is a homebuilder and a commercial landlord,

and he speaks highly of Absolute Comfort as a great team. The company installs high-efficiency Carrier units for the homes his company builds. “It’s all extremely good — I'd put it in the ‘excel- lent’ category,” Goodwin said. Absolute Comfort has been handling his HVAC work since they opened, and the relationship began eight to nine years earlier when they were employed by another company. When Whitehorn and Taylor starting planning their own business, Taylor stopped by to talk with their longtime customer. The homebuilder told him, “I do business with the company you’re with now. But I always say, ‘Call Ed Taylor.’ You are the company as far as I’m concerned. If you form your own company, cer- tainly count me as your first customer.” Susan Payne, a partner at Goodwin Homes, echoed Goodwin’s thoughts about Absolute Comfort. “They’re the number

Susan Payne, a partner at Goodwin Homes, echoed Goodwin’s thoughts about Absolute Comfort. “They’re the number
Susan Payne, a partner at Goodwin Homes, echoed Goodwin’s thoughts about Absolute Comfort. “They’re the number
Susan Payne, a partner at Goodwin Homes, echoed Goodwin’s thoughts about Absolute Comfort. “They’re the number