Beyond the Pitch
ALC Innovations Exceeds Restaurant Standards with Green Multi-Surface Cleaner
An All Natural Product Built on a Dream and Grease
Lipstick. Grease. Water spots. These are the bane of bartenders and restaurateurs. So are cleaning products that claim to be “green” or “natural” but aren’t. Chris Crader, owner of Grow Restaurants* and CEO of ALC Innovations, is building a company to change all that.
ALC Innovations provides a plant-derived, all natural, restaurant-quality alternative to harsh, cleaning chemicals. The product contains no harmful dye and no harsh chemicals. It has no odor or taste.
“This product will be the safest surface cleaner/polisher on the market,” Crader said. “We have the opportunity solve a problem no one has addressed and to reduce chemicals in the market place with a food-grade polisher so safe that you could drink it.”
A Good Idea that Refused to Go Away
Crader had been working in the industry for ten years as a bartender and restaurant manager when he was struck by how much time in a restaurant or bar was spent polishing glassware, especially to remove lipstick.
“This was before I opened my first restaurant,” Crader said, “but I knew there had to be a better way. He hired a chemist friend and came up with an idea for a pre-moistened towelette.
“I had $20,000 that I had no business using for this,” Crader said, “I flew to Wisconsin to meet with a company that was going to manufacture for us. We tried to get that product off the ground and came close, but it wasn’t perfect enough.”
Crader then became busy opening restaurants—Harvest Pizzerias, Curio, and The Sycamore—but he kept thinking about that better cleaning solution.
“I pushed it to the back burner,” he said, “but I never gave up on the idea. I had a second concern—the amount of chemicals in the work place and around the dining public—unnecessary, overly harsh, or misguided chemical programs. I wondered if OSU could help.”
It turns out they could and did. Crader worked with chemists at OSU to develop and spinout a multi-surface cleaner made entirely of plant-derived ingredients.
“OSU helped get the product over the finish line,” Crader said. “A $100,000 Technology Validation Startup Fund grant from Ohio Third Frontier helped get the company off the ground.”
100% Natural, 100% Made in Ohio, and a 100% Replacement in All Cleaning Situations (excluding raw meat)
ALC’s all-natural, plant-based product comes in a 32-ounce liquid spray bottle and is designed for 100 percent effectiveness. Even under a microscope. Now with two young children, Crader became even more focused on “green” versus “chemical.”
“We ran a survey with 50 different restaurant managers; I was surprised by how many people put green and ‘eco-friendly’ at the top of the list,” he said. “Being all natural and plant-based and with our industry connections, we think we can get a lot of exposure to restaurants.”
And eliminating lipstick and water spots? There’s a quantifiable payback.
“It takes about 20 to 30 seconds to really polish a glass,” Crader said. “Whoever is responsible for keeping the glassware sparkling uses whatever they have in their arsenal—paper towels or maybe a micro-fiber cloth to finish the job. With us, you take the glass out of the dish machine or three-compartment sink, catch it with our spray and a micro-fiber, and in 5 seconds it will dry spot- free.”
ALC Innovations plans a second quarter product launch. Distribution will be online via the company website and through RDP Distribution, another Ohio-based company, for initial distribution in 10 Midwest states.
ALC Innovations is the seventh company that Crader has started in Ohio.
“Columbus has been a great city,” he said. “It is the perfect size. There is enough creativity and economic growth. There is enough development out there in all shapes and sizes. The energy is there. The infrastructure, encouragement, and access to funds is here.”
Crader’s advice to other entrepreneurs?
“If you think you have something, never let it go. It took me six to seven years to perfect this product. It happened when it was meant to happen. Years ago, I wouldn’t have had the network to put me in touch with OSU or with Rev1. Those relationships give this business so much more upside potential,” he said. “As cliché as this sounds, the most important thing is not giving up.”
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