Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

"After owning the Farmhouse for seven years, my brother and I realized that it was time to 'grow up' and implement some serious systems and procedures.  Working with the SBDC allowed us to do some things that we never could have accomplished without their extraordinary experience, people skills and insight.  The SBDC recommended some sensible, strategic changes that cut costs and better served our team as a whole.  We're a much stronger business than we've ever been thanks to the SBDC's help.  Our team is tighter and has better resources, our managers are held to a higher accountability and over all, we've never been more confident about the foundation of our business."

Catherine and Joe Bartolomei


The 6-acre Farmhouse Inn, Restaurant and Spa was purchased in 2001 by siblings Catherine and Joe Bartolomei, whose family has farmed in the Sonoma County area for five generations. The property came with an excellent reputation in the food world; in its May 2007 issue, Gourmet Magazine name it one of the “World’s 36 Best Food Destinations.” The Bartolomeis continue to improve and refine the property, receiving the “One Star Preferred Destination” from the Michelin San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Guide” in 2007.


The owners of the business approached the SBDC because they wanted guidance on how to improve certain aspects of their restaurant operation: 1) communication between departments; 2) job assignments and responsibilities; 3) staff compensation structure; 4) evaluating existing staff; 5) overall workplace culture.

Actions taken

Fischer created a needs assessment survey and used it to interview the management team as well as several other key staff members. The results of these interviews were compiled for the owners, first as a SWOT analysis, and then in final report form.

As a result, the owners have stepped up to the plate to create a healthier and more productive employee culture. Regularly scheduled department and management meetings have been implemented, written job descriptions and staff evaluations created and appropriate compensation plans have been put into place.

As the Bartolomeis continue to move forward with their ambitious business plan, their most important asset, their employees, will play an important role in the future success of the Farmhouse Inn!

In addition, the Bartolomeis received an SBA 504 loan in the amount of $1,341,000 from the Bay Area Dev. Corp. to expand the Inn.  In early 2009, they added The Barn, bringing the total number of guest rooms to 18.

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.