FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Launching your own business is a dream for many, but when 36-year-old Megan Husak decided to buy the Sunnyside Deli, she didn’t know where to start.

“I had no restaurant experience really, worked here at the deli when I was in high school and college for a little bit here and there but I didn’t have very much food service experience either,” explained Husak.

The former teacher turned to Fresno Pacific University’s Center for Community Transformation for help because for her, buying the deli was not only about starting a business but also about giving back to her community. 

The restaurant had been a fixture in this area for 38 years before it closed last year.

“Sunnyside Deli was such a special place to the community and to my family it was something that we felt important to keep around,” said Husak.

Husak completed the Center for Community Transformations’ six-week micro-enterprise training course and learned many of the skills needed to run her family business.

What I thought was really special about the program is I met so many people who were from so many walks of life and had a passion and wanted to put that passion to practice,” Husak said.

FPU started the center ten years ago as a way to provide services to the community that surrounds the university.

“There were a general community that probably wasn’t going to go to college at some point but there was still a lot of resources a lot of assets at the university that the community could tap into,” said Carlos Huerta with the Center for Community Transformation.

Along with the training course, those wanting to launch a business can participate in the Spark Tank Social Enterprise Pitch Fest, a way to not only sell their business idea to the community but investors.

“Being able to connect them to some of our most influential business people in our city does a lot for them,” said Huerta.

Cynthia Smith walked away with $3,500 in start-up capital for her business, Smitty’s Secret Sauce. It’s an enterprise she has nurtured for 15 years, making the sauce at home on her kitchen stove.

“I am so honored and excited to be one of the award recipients of this year’s Spark Tank because it gives me a platform to be able to spread our message our mission,” said Smith.

Cynthia’s mission, educate people about a tragedy that took the lives of two of her children, suicide. The yellow label on each bottle of BBQ sauce carries a message about suicide awareness.

“Going through the program I’ve learned a lot about social enterprise as opposed to just having a business and what it means to have a business but also a social impact that is attached to that business,” said Smith.

At this year’s Spark Fest, five local entrepreneurs shared $24,000 in start-up funds.