ST. CLOUD -- A downtown restaurant is competing for the title of the best new business idea through the largest statewide competition.

Quarks American Bento is one of 90 semi-finalists in this year's MN Cup Competition. The competition takes applications from startups, business owners and entrepreneurs looking to further their business idea. Once selected to be in the competition, each business person will be put into different categories based on their business or idea. Then each business will compete in their categories for the title and prize money by going through different rounds, each round will focus on a different element of business.

Lisa Schulte is the co-owner of Quarks American Bento. She says the semifinal round will be Wednesday in the Twin Cities, it focuses on mentoring.

"We're working on our pitch for Wednesday night. From there we'll get directions on who our mentor will be and when the next steps will be done. They have various other events that they plan along the way so that you can go and network and get tips from other people that have won the competition before."

All of the category winners will be announced in October when the competition wraps up. Quarks has the chance to win a share of $500,000. It has been placed in the Food/Ag/Beverage category.

If they win the competition, Schulte says it will open up doors for expanding Quarks.

"I think ideally we would like to grow a second location in the (Twin) Cities. From there, maybe a couple locations down there and then develop a franchise program."

Getting Quarks dishes into grocery stores is also a goal.

"There's also the option of wholesaling our product and packaging it in a way that could be sold in grocery and convenience stores for a really quick take and heat meal."

Quarks American Bento focuses on healthy food you can eat on the go. They've been open in downtown St. Cloud since June 2015.

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