Sweet Basil’s Owner
Sweet Basil’s Owner
|BUILDING A BUSINESS
Martie Sullivan opened Sweet Basil Gourmetware & Cooking School in 1993. Looking back on her careers in marketing and restaurants there was a clear path to that day. Even her love of art played a role. She’s spent two semesters abroad in Tuscany studying art and art history and also discovered a love of Italian cooking with its aromatic ingredients like sweet basil, the main flavor in the region’s famed pesto.
Summers spent at her grandparents’ Wind River dude ranch in Estes Park Colorado ignited her love of the food business. Ranch guests loved the fare served under her grandmother’s watchful eye whether in the dining room or on breakfast and dinner rides. She worked her way through college at UNC in Greeley, Colorado at a cheese store, a Pizza Hut and then the kitchen at the Tuscan art school. When she returned to school in Greeley she worked part time at a busy coffee shop – The Junction Eating Place. After graduation she returned to The Junction full time and soon was promoted to Kitchen Manager. The Junction was owned by Colorado’s Concept Restaurants and when a position in marketing became available she decided to use her marketing degree from UNC’s Montfort College of Business and transferred to Concept’s corporate headquarters in Boulder.
When Concept restaurants outsourced its marketing five years later she took a position as Marketing Director at the Boulder Broker Inn in Boulder. A year later she moved within the Broker to Catering Sales Manager. After four years in that position she moved to Scottsdale, Arizona and worked as a catering manager at the Mesa Hilton hotel and at Scottsdale’s Arcadia Farms restaurant. Her next move was to the original Scottsdale Culinary Institute where she spent five years teaching restaurant management and supervising SCI’s student-run L’Ecole Restaurant during lunch.
“YOU HAVE TO PAY YOUR DUES AND LEARN HOW TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS.” PAUL HAWKEN
It was during this time that she first began thinking about a kitchenware store that would also offer recreational cooking classes. Martie credits her grandmother – Helen “Granny” Hutchinson – with fostering her entrepreneurial spirit and writer Paul Hawken, whose Growing a Business was always by her side in those planning days as a much valued source of helpful wisdom and inspiration. To prepare for the big entrepreneurial move from employee to business owner, Martie set out to learn about the housewares industry by working in kitchenware stores in Phoenix and Mesa.
Since that day – 23 years ago this October, 2015 – Martie has grown Sweet Basil. The first location in the Shea Scottsdale Shopping Center on the NE corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard had 1,400 sq ft. Five years later Sweet Basil moved 3 doors north to a space three times larger. Since then Martie has built her inventory and increased the number of cooking classes. In March 2015 she launched the Sweet Basil Market Cafe.