Boise, Idaho » Nicholas Jones was an MBA student at the University of Notre Dame when he came up with the idea for his Western Idaho Fair concession stand, now in its second year.
Jones, 28, went to a seminar about the ongoing American craze for bacon. There, he had a revelation.
"I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to put it on a stick,’ " said Jones, who counts himself among the porcine-obsessed.
It’s just the latest venture for Jones, a single dad with a 5-year-old daughter.
His previous projects include running his own public relations/marketing business for a couple of years after graduating with his bachelor’s in business and human resource management from Boise State. He sold that business when he went to graduate school.
"Nick has some idea going through his head at all times. The wheels never stop turning," said his best friend, Rob Carnes, 34, who met Jones at Boise State and is working at the bacon booth at the fair. "One thing I can say about Nick is that he’s always up for the next adventure."
For a time after high school, Jones considered a career as a professional ballroom dancer. He discovered his passion for dance at 16, when a girl dragged him to the dance floor.
He became an avid dancer and landed a full-time dancing/teaching job in British Columbia. But he walked away from that to go to college and pursue a career that paid better and allowed him to spend more time with his family.
Seed money » Jones was an excellent student at BSU and was accepted to MBA programs at two prestigious universities. Heeding the advice of a trusted adviser in BSU’s College of Business and Economics, he chose Notre Dame.
"Because Nick is a single parent, I thought the culture of Notre Dame would be more supportive for him," said Dusty L. Bodie, a BSU associate professor emeritus who previously worked as assistant manager for career development at Notre Dame’s business college. "As I understand it, that turned out to be true."
Jones said the university in South Bend, Ind., and his fellow students were incredibly supportive, offering to baby-sit his daughter, Jamie, when he was studying.
"They were always there to help," he said.
His business pitch to an angel funding group in Chicago with ties to Notre Dame — Irish Angels — was well-received, he said, resulting in $10,000 in seed money to launch Bacon on a Stick at the 2013 fair. He recalls submitting his application to the Western Idaho Fair at the last minute.
Breaking into the market » It’s no small feat to open a new food booth at the fair.
There are currently 54 food stands. Bacon on a Stick was one of just two added in 2013 (the other was Summer Salads), and only two new ones opened this year, Sharky’s Fish Fry and Tres Hermanos Tacos.
Food vendors who have participated in the fair in the past aren’t guaranteed a spot, but they’re generally welcomed back. New booths are added by fair managers when a vendor doesn’t return and/or they believe the menu offers something new.
"Everybody wants to sell a hot dog, hamburger or corndog," Director Bob Batista said. "We try to look for something that’s a little unique."
That food on a stick is associated with the fair helped Jones’ cause, Batista said.
Heeding advice from friends, Jones decided to offer a decadent version of bacon on a stick: Bacon slathered in Ghirardelli chocolate (dark or white). That was his biggest seller last year. It’s back again this year and sells for $5.25.Next Page >
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.