Biz Buzz: Herb farm growing again on Hwy. 46

Fat Cat Farm has opened on Highway 46 West at the site of the once-popular Sycamore Herb Farm, which was razed by a fire in 2004.

Rhoda Chute, 51, of Paso Robles is in the process of restoring the approximately half-acre herb farm.

She said she has spent months replanting the site, which features herbs grown on location or selected from a wholesale organic nursery, garden gifts, a potting area, demonstration gardens, picnic areas, a butterfly garden, and animals including goats, chickens and rabbits.

Chute has plans to open a children’s gardening area and bring back the Basil Festival in summer 2011.

She subleases from the property’s main tenant, Lone Madrone, which operates a tasting room at the farm under the same roof as the newly opened Kenneth Volk Vineyards tasting room.

Between 2007 and 2008, Lone Madrone operated an herb farm on the site, but speculation that the property might be sold led it to fall into disuse, according to Chute.

Representatives from Lone Madrone called Chute to invite her to restore the farm, a project that she could not refuse.

Chute said she has a passion for plants and dried and cut flowers. In 1994, she completed a degree in crop science from Cal Poly, where she studied ornamental horticulture. The farm has one part-time employee and is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

— Julia Hickey

Marco’s Pizza to open local stores

Ohio-based Marco’s Pizza is expanding into California with 170 new stores — up to five of which are expected to open in San Luis Obispo County.

So far, the designated locations include San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. Those stores are slated to open sometime in 2011, said Peter Wise, the company’s vice president of marketing.

Marco’s Pizza first opened in Toledo, Ohio, in 1978. There are now more than 200 franchised and company-managed stores in 17 states and the Bahamas.

— Melanie Cleveland

Local tech firm on Red Herring 100

International media company Red Herring recently named Mindbody of San Luis Obispo to its annual list of the 100 most innovative technology companies in North America for 2010.

Mindbody applied for the award, which Red Herring’s editorial team gave based on a range of quantitative and qualitative criteria including financial performance, technology innovation, management quality, strategy and market penetration.

Led by CEO Rick Stollmeyer, Mindbody provides Web-based scheduling, management, and marketing tools for wellness businesses such as spas, salons, and fitness, yoga, pilates and martial arts studios.

In 2009, the company reports that it grew more than 60 percent and created more than $10 million in annual revenue. Mindbody has more than 8,500 clients in 60 countries, according to a recent announcement.

— Julia Hickey