From left to right: Dr. Logan Jones, Dean of the College of Business and Professional Studies; Joe Freudenthal, Entrepreneur of the Year; Austin Evans, Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year; Annette Weeks, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.


The Center for Entrepreneurship at Missouri Western State University honored two business owners during the Capstone Business Luncheon that ended Entrepreneurship Week on July 23.

Austin Evans received the Emerging Entrepreneur Award. Four years ago, Evans opened Fit Republic, a supplement retail store. Then, realizing a need in the community for fresh-cooked, healthy meals, he opened the Lean Kitchen Company in the same space. Additionally, he offers Lean Kitchen Company to franchisees, and there are now 16 Lean Kitchen locations in several communities. He also recently purchased Kris & Kate’s, the iconic bright pink ice cream cone on the Belt Highway in St. Joseph. Evans is an active community partner, sponsoring several fitness events and working closely with other entrepreneurs.

“Austin has no limits,” said one nominator. “He sacrifices a lot to be successful. The main focus for him is ‘how can we continue to grow so we can help more people?’”

Joe Freudenthal, president and owner of Freudenthal Home-Based Healthcare in St. Joseph, received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Freudenthal opened Vintage Park in 2000, expanding that business before selling it to focus on in-home care. He recently added Freudenthal Hospice in an effort to provide a complete continuum of care at home. Freudenthal is a great community supporter, serving on several boards and providing sponsorships to worthwhile activities and organizations. He also offers the Freudenthal Fit Club, free exercise classes in the community, and the not-for-profit Freudenthal Center for Parkinson’s Disease.

Freudenthal’s nominator said he is a great employer. “He has the gift of empowerment and he is constantly encouraging,” the nominator said. “He lets staff know what qualities and talents he sees in them.”

Entrepreneurship Week is an annual series of workshops and events for local business professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, college and high school students and those curious about the skills needed to run a small business. Normally scheduled in March, this year’s E-Week was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak and held July 21-23.