Two years ago when Kevin Moore suffered a heart attack, he was out of work for months. But his paychecks from Mellow Mushroom never stopped coming.
“They’re the best people I’ve ever worked for,” Moore said of owners Martha and Monte Jensen. “They treat me like an owner. The autonomy they give me is amazing, and there couldn’t be a better group of people to work for.”
Moore, director of operations for Mellow Mushroom, was present at a luncheon Friday when the Denton Chamber of Commerce presented Monte Jensen with the Small Business of the Year award for 2014. In fact, Moore was standing alongside Jensen during the presentation.
The chamber’s selection committee chose from three finalists based on business-related accomplishments, growth, innovation and the company’s ability to overcome difficulties.
Two other finalists, Versus Real Estate Advisors and the Cupboard Natural Foods & Cafe, were also recognized during the luncheon when last year’s winner, Lee Ramsey of Links Construction, presented the award.
Monte Jensen said he was honored to share the ceremony with the other finalists and past winners. Links Construction built Mellow Mushroom’s restaurant on East Hickory Street, and Versus handled the real estate transaction.
The Jensens opened the Denton Mellow Mushroom in 2011. It’s a franchise location of the Georgia-based specialty pizza restaurant that features loud colors across the walls, cartoon mushrooms on the menu, signature pizzas and a diverse beer list.
“Walt Disney World has a trademark on ‘the Happiest Place on Earth,’ and we may not be the happiest place on Earth, but we should damn sure be the happiest place in Denton, Texas,” Monte Jensen said. “I tell people that when I hire them.”
Monte Jensen said he first fell in love with Denton about 20 years ago when his friend Ken Burdick helped him become more integrated in the community. Jensen said first and foremost he wanted to thank Burdick, who died in 2007.
“Ken really helped open my eyes to the greatness of Denton, and I have a great debt of gratitude to Ken and his family for the sheer love that they had and have for Denton,” he said.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.