By Jane M. Pascall
A small white coffee cart with neatly painted green trim sits at the back of the Homer Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, near a lively Marimba band. Inside, a teenage girl with long blonde braids serves customers espresso drinks, hot dogs and baked goods, while her two younger sisters help out.
Jenna Sitenga, 18, a recent graduate from a private all-girls Catholic boarding school in California, has launched her entrepreneurial endeavor – Catch-A-Snack mobile coffee/food cart in Homer. Her younger sisters, Anna Maria and Quinlan are eager to help out when they can.
“It’s a good bonding time for us,” said Sitenga, whose family owns Sitenga Eye Associates in Homer. “And it’s something I want to pass on to them, and have them run once they are old enough.”
The oldest of five siblings, Sitenga said it has been a dream of hers to start her own coffee business since working as a barista in Safeway a couple of summers ago. Her focus is to use local products as much as possible.
“I do any kind of espresso drinks – mochas, lattes, caramel macchiatos. You name it, I can make it,” she said. “It’s all Kaladi Brother’s coffee, an Alaska product. I am also working with McNeil Canyon Meats, serving custom, quarter-pound hot dogs.”
Sitenga will be at the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, for the month of June and in early July she will be at the baseball, softball and Little League games and practices at Hornaday Park during the week.
“For the rest of July, I’ll be back across from Homer High School,” she said. The location is on property her family owns.
It has taken Sitenga about a year to get the DEC-approved cart up and running; an enterprise she financed herself through her personal earnings.
“I have been saving up all my money through work I’ve done over the summers to start up this business,” she said.
Sitenga’s barista skills will be helpful in the future, as she continues with college in the fall.
“I’m going to college in Portland,” she said. “There are a lot of coffee shops down there, and it’s something I always wanted to do.”
Sitenga said she is a pre-med/biology major at the University of Portland.
The experience at the Farmer’s Market was a good one for her.
“All the different vendors stopped by, and it’s a really nice community.” she said. “I was really surprised at how friendly and open everyone was.”
Sitenga said she was happy and excited about her first day at the market, and is already looking forward to next Saturday.
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