Jay Farro, a UCSB alumnus and the founder of Isla Vista’s health-food haven Silvergreens, will return to campus tonight to offer entrepreneurial enthusiasts his advice and experiences as a local business founder.
The lecture will take place in the Theater and Dance building 1701 at 7 p.m. and will address both the process of becoming an entrepreneur and the nuisances of running a local business. The event – which is co-hosted by the Business Economics Association, Student Entrepreneurs Association and Alpha Kappa Psi – will also provide a free dinner for all those in attendance, courtesy of Silvergreens.
Farro founded Silvergreens shortly after graduating from UCSB in 1994 with a degree in business economics. Immediately after graduating, Ferro secured a loan from the Montecito Bank & Trust to construct his vision of a healthy alternative to I.V. eateries. He said the financial success of Silvergreens is a direct result of the restaurant’s ability to provide healthy food at a diminished cost.
“With a format where you order at the counter, we are able to cut cost and that goes back to the consumer,” Farro said. “I can provide a meal at the same quality as at a Chili’s down the street for 60 percent of the price.”
Farro said although Silvergreens currently has only one location, he plans to open a second location in the near future.
In addition to founding of Silvergreens, Farro is also credited with creating the Nutricate Receipt 2.0, a system that allows restaurants to include the nutritional content of their dishes on customer receipts.
“[Nutricate] basically allows restaurants to communicate the nutritional facts of their products to the consumer,” Farro said. “It allows them to see exactly what they are eating.”
John Zandi, a board of directors member for the BEA, said he arranged Farro’s lecture this evening to provide a model for students considering a business of their own.
“We wanted to bring someone from the local business community within UCSB to talk about being an entrepreneur,” Zandi, a fourth-year business economics major, said. “I think many students are interested in starting their own businesses and Jay Farro offers a firsthand account of such a case.”
Farro said he attributes much of his entrepreneurial success to his education and experiences at UCSB – chiefly a business seminar class taught by Kinko’s Founder and UCSB Lecturer, Paul Orfalea.
“I took Paul Orfalea’s class during my last quarter in 1994 and his teaching was so unique. … It really got me thinking, ‘Hey I can do this’,” Farro said. “Also, the fact was that I was appealing to the market I knew. I lived in I.V. for four years and I felt like I knew the type of restaurant people would want. Sure, there was pizza and burritos, but I felt like there was a huge market gap there for sandwiches and salads at affordable prices.”
Farro said he expects his business to continue to thrive in the health-food niche of the fast food industry.
“With people today becoming more conscious of what they eat and having been open now for 13 years, we’ve gotten a head start in understanding this section,” Farro said. “[Silvergreens] is the speed of fast food and it’s a higher quality food, and we’ve gotten to know the industry.”