Alicia Wagner, Owner
Fowl & Fodder Downtown
Food and beverage
Number of Employees:
Brief description of your business or organization:
We believe food is love around the #FowlOneNine and all are welcome to experience it. Our menu is about as diverse as the people we make it for. Whether you’re gluten free, vegan, dairy free, vegetarian or looking for one of the most decadent meals of your life, we check all the boxes.
At Fowl & Fodder Downtown we utilize regional farms and locally crafted products, focusing on fun and creative twists of Southern fare sure to tantalize the tastebuds.
Were you born/raised in the Toledo Region? If so, where? If not, where and why/when did you move to the area?
I’m from Wapakoneta, Ohio, home of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. He’s known for his famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That’s how I feel about women in business. Every time a woman opens a business it helps create space for more women to innovate and lead. Why is that important? Because still today, 80 percent of leadership positions are held by men. That’s not providing equal footing for half our population when the needs of men and women are, indeed, different. We leap our communities forward when women open businesses and provide the products, services and reform needed to move ALL of mankind forward.
I attended The University of Toledo and that’s where my roots began. I met my husband my junior year of college, graduated and worked all over Ohio, but true love brought me back to Toledo where I not only began my life with my husband/family, but fell in love with what Toledo is and truly has to offer all of us who live here.
When did you launch your first business, and how did you get to where you are today?
My first business was selling Girl Scout cookies. LEGIT that is where I got out of my comfort zone and began to build my confidence as an elementary student. Learning the value of hearing no and being able to get past it without taking it personally. Honestly, I see that being where so many women struggle once they get into the real world (out of high school/college), hearing no and not allowing it to paralyze them.
We are told and spoon fed the first 18-23 years of our life that women can do anything (I was told from my family, my school counselors, my professors, commercials, books, magazine covers and the list goes on). But what I found, and many of the women around me found, was that, in fact, was a lie. Women hear “no” a lot more than men, statistically, as it relates to their development opportunities and career advancement due to all kinds of bias/factors.
That’s where my first business started, Heels Coaching and Consulting, helping women stand tall in who they are and what they wanted for their life. I was blown away (as were many of my friends and colleagues) at the amount of bias, abuse and red tape that still existed in the workforce for women.
So many women are worn out, tired and paralyzed from the fight they have to show up to each day in order to simply exist in their role as a professional woman. Having gone through it myself, I became certified in coaching and consulting and dedicated my life to helping more women get unstuck so we could move a generation of women forward in their value and worth in the workplace.
From there my first-born daughter arrived and with food sensitivities. It changed our whole life. After a ton of research, I couldn’t believe the amount of chemicals we allow into our food sources that are harming all of us, let alone our children. I also couldn’t believe there were hardly any resources available to essentially provide my family with the products and services that we needed to simply live, let alone flourish.
That’s where my involvement and ownership of Fowl & Fodder Downtown came into play. Getting what we need to eat shouldn’t be difficult.
Fowl & Fodder Downtown is more than a restaurant. It’s respect for a whole host of people who need what we offer because they can’t get quality ingredients like ours very often when dining out. It’s a safe place to eat and you can feel good about fueling your body, not harming it as we try to keep local and regional products at the forefront of what we do. We believe food is love and as a business owner, I believe I have a responsibility to care well for the people in my building and on my block. Our community is important to us, and we believe we revolutionize food by making the customer the priority first and if we do that, everything else will follow suite behind it.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
We cannot allow the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that have been shed before us to die in vain. We cannot. So many women have paved the way before us, but truly, it has only been 100 short years since women have gained the right to vote. Women have been oppressed for many, many years and the literal fight they went through to get us here is staggering. Susan B. Anthony and her crew were literally beaten to get us here.
But we forget that.
We forget that there is still oppression because we have inched forward a hundred years but there are still many inches to go. We forget what the women before us did. We forget the pain and the fight they went through to get us where we’re at today, and I’m not sure as a current society we get that. I believe we are at the next tipping point for women in history, but that to me is the problem. We’ve forgotten historically what it takes to move a generation forward. However, we don’t have to look far, we just have to remember.
Women are unfortunately (still) grossly misrepresented in leadership and politics. I believe Women’s History Month is an annual reminder to ignite in us the fire to go after our place in society. A society starving for the purpose, innovation and the talents of women who hold the healing and the fortitude to move us even closer to coming together as a well-functioning society that serves everyone at the table.
What do you like most about your job?
I know what it feels like to be left out when I’m needing something. Whether that’s been personally or professionally. It hurts.
I read a review not long ago from a patron letting us know they haven’t been able to eat a waffle in 13 years due to their gluten allergy. We (Chef Aaron) spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make the best possible gluten free waffle. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but for the percentage of the people who can’t eat gluten, IT’S EVERYTHING.
That’s what I love about my job. I love seeing problems that seem so insignificant to most, but we understand the difference it can make in the lives of those around us.
Food really is love. I believe that with my whole heart.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?
I love reading, traveling and, of course, eating!!! I love visiting other countries, cities and neighboring communities. I love experiencing and connecting with my neighbors. Sometimes it’s the food that connects us but it’s the conversation in between that connects us.
Have you had any special mentors or supporters that have helped guide your career or business?
I’ve had a lot of people show me how I don’t want to do it. Truly, failure has been my greatest mentor.
However, I’ve had three spiritual mentors in my life who have helped me see that all of my answers are inward. Their advice around counsel and guidance being important in times of need, however, truly paying attention to my needs and the needs of my family and/or business when taking counsel or guidance into consideration is paramount. Kind of like running it through an internal filter.
Even our mentors or well-intended people in our lives have different lives and levels of need compared to our own. Sometimes the puzzle piece other people want to give us might look good from their angle, but it doesn’t fit our need, our marriage, our kids, our business or our purpose. Just because mentors come off as more “experienced” doesn’t mean every pearl of wisdom should be taken at face value.
The greatest gift and support my mentors have given me is the permission to trust my heart and authentically live the values that were placed in my internal GPS to get me closer to my God-given purpose while here on this Earth.
Major accomplishment(s) that make(s) you proud?
Healing trauma from my past. Forget the sales awards, the community awards or whatever awards. I am most proud each year that I can look in the mirror and say I’m becoming a better human, wife, mother, boss, friend and community member.
Breaking generational chains that have impacted my life and the lives of those before me is no doubt what gives me all the feels.
It’s not easy work, often hidden and not talked about professionally. However, it’s THE No. 1 thing that will prevent you from reaching your highest potential and your goals. Hands down.
Remember, women have been abused and oppressed for a long, long time. If you think for two seconds that the unresolved pain in your life isn’t impacting your current life, I invite you to reconsider. Because that’s exactly what keeps showing up. An invitation to reconsider. Doing the work to feel, process and understand a traumatic past can help form the building blocks needed to move forward in a more powerful way.
A good coach, therapist or counselor is just as important for personal development as whatever you are doing for professional development. Because at the end of the day, we are a person first, not a role but a person, and that person is who is showing up to everything else in your life.
What are the benefits and struggles of owning a business in the Toledo Region?
The benefits are endless. The cost of living and the cost of doing business in Toledo affords so many of us the opportunity to get involved, that wouldn’t even be feasible in other cities. The time is now to get involved in economic development in your 419 community if you’ve ever thought about it. There are currently some really great tax credits being offered by the city for real estate improvements and you can find out more by visiting their website.
Downtown is a struggle sometimes, especially since the pandemic. A lot of people know it’s our committed downtown businesses/patrons who hold up our downtown infrastructure Monday through Friday. However, did you know it’s travelers who hold us up on weekends? Did you know weekends are our busiest two days downtown, and many of our downtown neighboring businesses close downtown because they say there is no business? Not true. We hear parking is a struggle. Not true. We hear there’s nothing to do. Not true.
We have an unbelievable downtown that many outsiders are experiencing, often. If you haven’t been down lately, you should visit! I feel one of the greatest struggles owning a business in the Toledo Region (specifically downtown) is getting everyone out of the mindset that this is the downtown they knew back when. It’s not. Get out and date your downtown. There’s a lot to get to know since you’ve been down last. If people who haven’t been down would come down even once a year, think what that would do for your Toledo Region.
What other woman-owned businesses should northwest Ohioans know about?
The food industry is so incredibly male dominated (especially locally) that I’m sticking with food for this one. If you haven’t been to Registry Bistro owned by Chef Erika Rapp, you’re missing out on one of the best culinary dining experiences in all of Ohio. And if you have not been to the Original Sub Shop owned by Chef Maureen Brogan, you are equally missing out on some of the best soup and sammies in all of northwest Ohio. If you need coffee, all the coffee, because you are tired from holding up your half of the sky, definitely check out Black Kite and Grindhrs coffee shops, both female-owned and both in downtown Toledo. My go-to and what keeps me fueled daily is my obsession with Neuroflex Juice Co., Dr. Emily Hayman’s combination of nutrient-packed cold-pressed organic deliciousness. It’s literally the glue that holds me together.
Food is love, supporting these ladies lifts up an entire community of women paving the way locally. #onward