Former New Yorker Cody Utzman lives and breathes the farm-to-table lifestyle. After his father passed away a few years ago, he left Brooklyn to return to his roots in Albany, Ore., a small community in the heart of the Willamette Valley where he’s starting Bodhi Artisan Kitchen & Bakery.
As a four-time NYC restaurant owner and a participant on the Food Network’s Chopped and BBC America’s Chef Race, Cody had an impressive background in the food business. But he was ready for something more. Today, he raises produce on his two-acre farm and runs two businesses, Frankie’s Restaurant and its offshoot, the soon-to-be-opened Bodhi Artisan Kitchen & Bakery.
Building a business on a mission
Frankie’s Restaurant is a family-run business that features fresh, seasonal produce and meats from the Willamette Valley. The new bakery, which will open this fall, is an expansion of Frankie’s and will feature organic cold-press juices and artisanal baked goods. As Cody explains:
“The expansion into the bakery was a real natural step for us. We’d already been baking a lot of the items that we serve at Frankie’s, but we wanted to really increase our quality even more so. So Bodhi is going to be baking breads for the restaurant, but also allow us to retail them out to the public.”
It’s not just about the food. For Cody, it’s also about social change. He values being able to interact directly with local farmers and purchase food that is raised sustainably.
“I could go out and make money doing a lot of different things,” says Cody, “but what impact would I have if I was just collecting a paycheck? So this is about the community. This is about the farmers. And this is about what I want to see in the world that I’m raising my daughter in.”
Getting ahead of the game online
When he needed a new restaurant website for Frankie’s, Cody paid a web designer to tackle the job. But for Bodhi Artisan Kitchen & Bakery, he decided to do it himself using GoDaddy Central Website Builder. He wanted to generate some buzz for the new business by having a website and social media presence in place ahead of the grand opening. It worked.
Bodhi hasn’t even opened its doors yet, but the website and social media accounts have helped to raise awareness and prime the business to succeed.
“I’ve developed a brand already, and I think that creates legitimacy for my product as I’m getting ready to bring it to market.”
Fortunately, building the restaurant website was easy. Cody is pleased with how it turned out and how quickly he was able to get bodhibakery.com online. Most of all, he’s thrilled with how much money he saved by not hiring a web pro or designer. He was able to put the money he saved towards other expenses for the new bakery. He says:
“When people visit my website that I built with GoCentral on GoDaddy, I want them to see a brand that is already established, that has legs, that is marketable and really intelligently designed. And I think the website reflects that.”
Cody really appreciates the user-friendliness of GoCentral. “I didn’t even need to call customer service because the website was so easy to do myself,” he says. When he needs to change content or upload new photos, he knows exactly what to do. He doesn’t need to call anyone — or pay anyone — to do it.
Creating a brand with character
So this mastiff walks into a bakery. Sounds like a good setup for a joke, right? But in fact, Bodhi Artisan Kitchen & Bakery is named after Cody’s dog. Bodhi is an English Mastiff who serves as both family pet and mascot of the new bakery, and the big farm dog’s likeness is used as part of the logo.
“With any new business, marketing is so, so important,” explains Cody. “And we really wanted to make sure that the brand associated with Bodhi was something that was fun, recognizable, and be kind of whimsical as well and draw in people.”
Setting up Bodhi Artisan Kitchen & Bakery for growth
Frankie’s Restaurant, which is named for Cody’s late father, currently employs 35 to 40 people, including many family members. Cody says he’s hoping to add another 15 to 20 full-time employees with the new bakery. And maybe that’s just the beginning.
“We’re really hoping that with Bodhi Bakery — through correct branding, good marketing and an amazing web presence — we can build a platform for a store that can be duplicated in multiple communities,” explains Cody. “The impact that we’re going to have here in our small farming community could be felt in so many areas, and I really feel it’s a brand that has legs and can grow like a Starbucks could.”
Being an entrepreneur is a way of life
Cody has been self-employed for the last 18 years. He got his entrepreneurial spirit from his dad. “I can’t imagine any other way of living,” Cody says. But he admits that there are challenges. One tough part of being an entrepreneur is having the diverse skillset needed to manage wildly different parts of the business. He notes:
“At the end of the day, you’re wearing so many hats. Just the other day, I literally put on my farm hat, then I come to the restaurant — I put on my chef coat — and then I gotta go see my banker and put on a different outfit. So you must be ready for anything at any time.”
His favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is seeing the risks pay off. “Every single day, you’re putting 100 percent on the line,” he says. “And to have it all work out in the end — you know, to have the success, to have the quality of food that you want to serve, to be able to employ so many people, you can rest real easy at night knowing that you’ve done a good job today.”
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Also published on Medium.