AP NEWS

YEA program visits Bareburger in Ridgefield

December 22, 2017 GMT

Bareburger in Ridgefield played host to the inaugural class of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy this week, the second of six field trips the students will take during the program.

Bareburger co-founder Euripides Pelekanos traveled from Queens, N.Y., to share his story with the YEA students. Starting with one restaurant in Astoria, Bareburger is now an international franchise.

The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce launched the local YEA program this fall for middle and high school students in the Danbury area interested in becoming entrepreneurs. The 30-week program includes guest speakers, mentors, and field trips. Students will create a business plan and pitch it to a panel of investors at the end of the program.

The class previously visited Noteworthy Chocolates in Bethel.

At Bareburger this week, students also spoke with store manager Andrei Paschenko and events manager Dana Jevarjian, who discussed the importance of thinking outside the box.

“To have someone like Euripides share his story with our students is priceless,” said Jennifer Zinzi, executive director of the Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce. “He brings a wealth of experience to the panel and easily relates to the students.”

Following the meeting, Pelekanos agreed to serve on the YEA Investor Panel, which will evaluate the students’ business plans.

“It would be an honor to take part in this valuable experience, which will pave the path for future business leaders,” he said.

Other investors and judges include: Mary Kate Gobleck, owner of Reliance Merchant Services; Robert Salaga, owner of Tutoring Club of Ridgefield; and Chris Brown, co-owner of Teed & Brown.

Bobbi Jo Beers, YEA program manager, said more panel members are needed. The Investor Panel event is set for April 5 at Western Connecticut State University. Those interested may contact Beers at (203) 733-7406.

YEA is a national program; Ridgefield is the only one in the state. The inaugural class includes students from Danbury, Bethel, Redding, Ridgefield, Wilton and Stratford.

cbosak@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3338