Entrepreneur Spotlight: Breonna Gilbert


*Trigger warning: Bre’s story contains sensitive content about drug addiction.

Bre Gilbert is the owner and creator of a Denver Metro-based (but mobile) gourmet hotdog cart called Bre’s Bites. Bre started her life in a small town in Northeast Ohio called Youngstown. She lived in a multi-generational household with her mother, brother, and two sets of grandparents, so there were four generations under one roof. Youngstown is a tiny town on the edge of Ohio, bordering Pittsburgh. The community she grew up in was hit hard by the opioid epidemic like many other small communities in the Midwest, and Bre fell into it. After losing her grandparents to cancer, Bre began taking her late grandmother’s painkillers and that eventually led to a heroin addiction.

In the midst of all of this, Bre’s mother decided to move the family to Colorado because she was tired of living in an environment consumed by crime. Bre didn’t join them at first but eventually came to visit over Easter and stayed. She was 21 when she came to Denver and was what she described as a maintaining addict. Bre believes that there is no such thing as a functioning addict and that you’re really just trying to maintain a dysfunctional and toxic habit; some just appear to do it better than others. It wasn’t until Bre became physically ill with a rare form of pneumonia that she made the choice to stop. The long-term effect of the drugs tore her body up so badly that she had to have emergency surgery to remove one of her lungs. “I never wanted to die; that wasn’t something I was willing to have happen, so I stopped.”

Bre had the willpower to stop and has been clean for quite a while now, but it didn’t come without facing homelessness and getting caught in the system of being in and out of jail and halfway houses along the way. Bre knows that getting clean is not easy and so many others aren’t as lucky with a high chance of relapsing within the first year.

During the next chapter of her life, Bre was working in fast food, as she always had, and helping others run their restaurants. She did everything from keeping the books, to maintaining the cash drawer, to hiring and managing employees and all that comes with keeping a business afloat. She had worked in a number of different food establishments all throughout her life, as it was familiar to her because that was the work her mother had always done.

Bre was working at a Taco Bell in Denver when one of her employees convinced her that she should open up her own business. He could see that she was smart, hardworking, extremely organized, and shouldn’t be running other people’s businesses when she could do it for herself. This employee and she developed a close friendship and after a year began dating. Her boyfriend and now business partner, Kelly, also nudged her to enroll in RMMFI’s Business Idea Lab, where she solidified the foundation for Bre’s Bites. Kelly had gone through the Business Launch Boot Camp himself for a different business idea. They officially opened their doors this past August and can be found steadily on 20th and Blake on Friday and Saturday nights (late night, during the bar let out) and outside of South High School daily at lunchtime from 12pm to 12:45pm. They also pop up at a number of different breweries in the Denver Metro area, Copper Kettle and Launch Pad Brewery being the most frequent.

When asked what her plans for the future look like, Bre said she wants to build a business empire and help as many people as she can. “My passion is to help other people succeed, and if my story helps them get closer to that, if they can see that it’s possible, I’m going to tell it as many times as I need to.” You can follow Bre’s Bites on their Instagram page or check out their website for a full menu and location information.