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Dakota Student

The student news site of University of North Dakota

Dakota Student

The student news site of University of North Dakota

Dakota Student


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UpNext Showcase with Jan Helgeson of Nautical Bowls

Aspen Jewkes

On a recent evening, the Prohibition Room in East Grand Forks opened its doors to 19 attendees for UpNext, an event designed to give insights into local businesses. The gathering started with an opening statement from Whitney of the Blue Zones Project, a group aimed at enhancing community well-being through policy. The main speaker of the night was Jan Helgeson, co-owner of Nautical Bowls in Grand Forks. 

Whitney from the Blue Zones Project set the tone for the evening with a brief presentation about their mission to impact health, wellness, and longevity through community policy. The organization also announced a Netflix viewing event set for November 9th, providing an opportunity for community education on health and wellness. 

Matthew Ternus, Director of Development and Marketing at Empire Arts Center, served as the event’s host. He introduced Jan Helgeson, who previously spent 12 years in elementary education and has transitioned into the food industry with Nautical Bowls. Despite initial reservations about the age gap between her former elementary school students and her current high school and college-aged staff, Helgeson found the experience to be rewarding. 

Helgeson’s journey with Nautical Bowls began after a visit to their Fargo location. Impressed by the food quality, she pitched the idea to Jon Miskavige of Northridge Construction, who agreed to invest on the condition that she partner with him in the franchise. Hesitant at first, Helgeson accepted the position of Operations and Training Staff and never looked back. The duo has plans to open another store in College Station, Texas. 

“Nothing is guaranteed; you have to be willing to take a risk,” Miskavige advised Helgeson. It’s a philosophy she embraced when agreeing to become a partner. As for staffing, Helgeson had no shortage of applications over 60 in total and credits her teaching background for enabling her to identify coachable, quality hires.

Leadership matters, and Helgeson takes it seriously. Whether working at the register or cleaning, she is involved in all aspects of the business. Her approach is cultivating an environment of mutual respect and fun, appealing even to the local college scene, notably the UND volleyball team, who frequently visit the store.

During the talk, Helgeson emphasized the advantages of franchising, which provides a structured plan from store layout to marketing. The business is also involved in community events, including the DDA’s street fair in the summer and a fundraiser for Delta Tau Delta.
The summer opening saw Nautical Bowls go through two weeks’ worth of inventory in just four days. Now, as winter approaches, Helgeson faces the challenge of maintaining that momentum. Her current marketing focus is on the community’s health benefits, an effort that began with a grassroots marketing strategy. 

Nautical Bowls, under Helgeson’s guidance, seeks to be more than just another health food chain. It hopes to be a cornerstone of community health and wellness. For college students interested in quick, nutritious options, Nautical Bowls offers just that. From Acai, protein, and even a nutritious oatmeal bowl coming soon. Helgeson’s journey from education to entrepreneurship serves as an inspiring narrative for those pondering their own career paths. 


Davíd Moreno is a Dakota Student General Reporter. He can be reached at daví[email protected]. 

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