CLIENT SUCCESS AND TESTIMONIALS
PACE Mid-City Business Source Center helped facilitate a long-time Korean-Hawaiian restaurant, Ohana BBQ, to acquire $224,000 in various disaster loan programs to save six of their employees. With all the supportive resources and effective planning offered, Ohana BBQ can survive and thrive in this critical climate during COVID-19.
Young Yoo emigrated from Korea to the United States in 1980. In 2005, he purchased the Korean-Hawaiian restaurant business “Ohana BBQ” located in Studio City and has been operating the restaurant for 16 years. As a result of years of tireless effort and methodical management, his small business was able to generate decent earnings with the excellent local community and customer reviews. During the peak of the pandemic, Ohana BBQ’s revenue dropped dramatically in March and April this year. His business fell into a harsh financial situation all of a sudden, but he was still paying salaries for his 6 employees without making any business revenue.
In March 2020, Young was referred by the Southern California Korean Restaurant Association Group to PACE Mid-City Business Source Center. He was assisted by Diana Chung, a MidCity Business Source Counselor, who was able to provide free 1 on 1 business counseling with Korean language assistance. Diana helped analyze his business’s profile, discussed different types of available disaster loan programs, explained the loan applications’ procedures and usages, and guided him to prepare all required loan documents. She also assisted in writing his business project budget and financial statement, and translating any relevant emails throughout the application process. Moreover, Diana advised him on the CDC and OSHA re-opening business safety guidelines and new system.
Despite all the assistance provided, there were some challenges along the way. For instance, technical issues that occurred on the application website and being unable to submit the PPP loan application through the banks that his business has an account with. With Diana’s guidance, he was able to get a $48,000 PPP loan funded from PayPal. He also successfully secured $156,000 from SBA EIDL and $20,000 from the EWDD emergency loan, totaling $224,000 loan funds for financing and sustaining his business.
Young is utilizing the loans for working capital including rent, utilities, and employee payroll to retain 6 employees and keep the business operating. Ohana BBQ is currently offering outside seating, delivery, and take out options. He ensures that everything is completely meeting the safety guideline standards at his restaurant. His business is generating consistent sales, the majority of the business revenue came from to-go orders.
Young is very glad that PACE Korean speaking Business Counselor Diana was able to help his business overcome the arduous challenges when he had some language barrier and lack of financing information during this crisis.
Martinez Fresh Fruit ~ Fruitas Frescas
The Business Source Central West region has developed a long-term local client Mr. Nicolas Martinez, a Los Angeles sidewalk vending business owner. Mr. Martinez, an uneducated immigrant who is in the process of legal US citizenship, started his sidewalk vending business 10 years ago because of his brother. Until the recent 2019 legalization of sidewalk vending Nicolas willingly paid tickets and was even arrested and jailed from trying to maintain a business to provide for his family. The Department of Public Health had also informed him that he would need a food cart which he overcame by saving over $5,000 to eventually purchase an approved cart, which was a difficult task for him being low-income. As soon as sidewalk vending became legal he wanted to apply for his permit. Referred by StreetsLA to PACE Business Development Center, Nicolas was provided a sidewalk vending orientation with direct assistance from Ms. Veronica Lopez, a PACE counselor who assisted him with the permit application process. Because Nicolas was still in the process of his Visa he could not acquire his ITIN. With the help of Veronica and the PACE Vita Program, Nicolas was able to process his ITIN request and submit it to the IRS, however due to COVID-19 and the tax season he had to wait 6-months for his official number. After attaining his ITIN in the mail he revisited Veronica Lopez at PACE BDC who then helped him apply for the BTRC, Seller’s Permit and in completing the city sidewalk vending application he was finally able to get his permit the same day. Nicolas is now successfully running a city approved legal vending business.
Nicolas runs his city vending cart business as Martinez Fresh Fruit from the One Stop Commissary located at 459 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles CA 90013. Nicolas is a passionate hard working 10 year business owner who expressed relief to his PACE counselor “I have peace now because me and my friends can sell legally and we won’t be bothered by police.” Nicolas refers to himself and his friends (mostly other family members) who work together as a group of independent vendors at favorite city locations. EWDD’s BusinessSource Centers offer a variety of Business Services, including several Financial and Development Incentive Programs and a Small Business Loan Program. Learn how EWDD can help your business grow and succeed.
Tamashii Ramen House
The name “Tamashii Ramen” means “Soul Ramen”. Colin Fung is a restaurateur of three Tamashii Ramen House located in North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks and Studio City. Colin grew up between Hong Kong and Macau and studied abroad in Australia for a Hospitality Management degree in his early years. He worked as a food & beverage General Manager in several high end restaurants, private clubs and hotels in Hong Kong, having a total of 25 years working in the food service industry. To pursue his “California Dream”, he and his family immigrated to the U.S in 2011 and settled down in Los Angeles. After 6 months of adapting to the new environment, he and his wife deemed that it’s feasible to start a Japanese ramen business inspired by the thriving Japanese Ramen restaurant that his wife worked at. Colin embraced the ambition of creating an eatery serving freshly made, healthy and tasty ramen in a modern and cozy ambience in the neighborhood.
With his abundant management experiences in food service industry, exceptional customer service and serving soulful foods to the local customers, Colin successfully established the first Tamashii Ramen House in Sherman Oaks in 2012 and it shortly became prosperous. Two years later, Colin decided to expand his business in the heart of NoHo Arts District in North Hollywood. The primary challenge was a three month delay in the building renovation plan for local compliance. He needed working capital to purchase some new equipment for the grand opening. Fortunately, he was referred by his Accountant’s sister to PACE Business Counseling Manager Wai Ling Chin, who assisted him with the first loan assessment, the loan application, and coordinating with the city regarding certain inquiries and providing business advice on how to acquire a liquor license. He finally received a $15,000 SBA micro-loan for the essential supplies and achieved opening his second restaurant. Tamashii Ramen House was awarded the “2015 Outstanding Small Business” from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti since his restaurants have created more than 40 jobs. Between 2016 and 2017, Colin came back to PACE Business Development Center with Wai-Ling’s help, he was able to request two working capital loans for a total of $90,000 to start and launch a new ramen house in Studio City. By 2017, Tamashii Ramen House in Studio City officially opened and is still running to this day.
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, his restaurant business has been deteriorating since late February 2020. The Studio City location was closed followed by Sherman Oaks location. Only North Hollywood remained open for take-out orders during the outbreak. Soon after, Wai Ling assisted Colin by providing him adequate guidance and information for applying the disaster loan programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EWDD emergency loans. She helped assessed his eligibility and connected him with a right banker at the Bank of America. As a result, Colin acquired $135,332 PPP loan, $10,000 SBA EIDL Advance loan, and $150,000 EIDL loan for maintaining his business operation during this uncertain time.
Currently, all three Tamashii restaurants re-open limited to take out and delivery orders. Colin also rehired 18 full time employees for daily operations. Colin would utilize the secured emergency loans mainly for the business operational costs and payroll. During the challenging pandemic, he tried different creative strategies to survive under this depressing climate. As ramen is not a popular take-out food option, Colin improved to-go packaging, partnered with third-party delivery services, offered discount, created various combo menus for weekly meals, etc., so he can maintain at least a 40% margin of the business revenue. Colin is dedicatedly making changes to his business with safety and health top of mind. He is also remodeling the restaurants and getting ready when dine-in is allowed.
Colin is very blessed and thankful for the supportive services and resources provided by PACE Business Counselor Wai Ling. He was able to stabilize and expand his business rapidly as well as overcome different obstacles as an immigrant by his effort, passion and determination in addition to the positive help from PACE Business Development Center over these years. PACE business assisting services and granted emergency loans are definitely life-changing, helping to save jobs and save his business during the pandemic crisis.
Bubles Champagne Catering Service
Following her dreams….. Ms. Maya Entwistle began her journey in the food & beverage industry at Ruth’s Chris Steak. As the event manager she helped host numerous Valley Economic Alliance (VEA) networking events through the restaurant, eventually amassing her own network of potential clients. Little did she know that the VEA would be her resource in finding a loan source that would help professionally launch her business.
In early 2019 Maya took the leap of faith utilizing the experience and knowledge she acquired from many years in the food and beverage services. Her dreamt up concept was an event company called “Bubles Champagne;” “Catering a beautiful champagne bottle station for all occasions.” “A party is not a party unless you hear the pop of a champagne bottle.” Through her event management job she met Jacqui Matsumoto and shared her aspiration of becoming a business owner. Jacqui loved the idea and referred her to Gail Lara with Hope inside Northridge Small Business who offers a 6 weeks program for small business entrepreneurship. Once she graduated from the entrepreneurial training classes in June 2019 she started the process of applying for a loan with the only bank she had for many years only to be unexpectedly turned down due to the fact that her business was not established long enough.
Fortunately, Maya was referred by VEA to Supranee May, a PACE business counselor, to seek access to capital assistance. After meeting in November for an initial financial assessment of her situation, Supranee was able to assist her in applying for a mini microloan through PACE Finance where she was ultimately approved for a $3,500 loan by December 31, 2019. The timely proceeds will help her fund the much needed marketing costs, including professional marketing materials and a website, so she could start promoting her catering service successfully.
Maya Entwistle is forever thankful to PACE business counselor Supranee May, PACE Finance, and the VEA for their encouragement and desire to see her succeed and to allow her to share her story to all new small business entrepreneurs.
PACE ETP graduate Mr. Daniel Munoz: Family Man, Muay Thai Trainer, Army Veteran, Litigation Paralegal, Small Business Advocate, and new founder/sole-proprietor of a local Los Angeles catering company Luchador Kambucha. Daniel entered the entrepreneurial life to be free from any hostile or oppressive work environment so he can ultimate enjoy his family without bringing home the work related stresses of a typical job. However, it was not an easy path. For many years Daniel worked for a top litigation attorney and worked his way up to becoming a paralegal. He began meeting different small business owners, helping them navigate legal issues often without charge. This led to his inspiration to ultimately find a way to have his own business where he could be his own boss.
Eventually Daniel was referred by a friend to PACE Finance and their ETP Program. Through this program he met Swann Do, Director of PACE’s Women’s Business Center (WBC), where she assisted in his business plan development and eventual low-cost startup. Daniel credits much of his success in getting a small catering business started to the informative entrepreneurship program as well as personal business mentorship from PACE WBC. Daniel has been busy building his catering business with small private party events and has successfully opened up part-time with an outdoor street front patio location in East Los Angeles. With his business steadily growing Daniel hopes to eventually secure a PACE Finance microloan to help with equipment purchases and working capital. His biggest take-away from that first PACE introduction 3 years ago was the need to first clear up his personal life of unpaid parking tickets, unfilled taxes, marriage, family life, etc. Like many people all the burdens of life had overcome his motivation to get any form of business off the ground. Through the PACE business counselors and guest industry experts he gained invaluable business insight that not only saved him tremendous start-up costs, but helped save him invaluable time in launching his catering business.
Tita’s of Manila
Tita’s of Manila Filipino Woman Restauranteur Cielito (Sherrie) Vergara-Divine opened her new West Covina Filipino Restaurant Tita’s of Manila with sister Charita Vergara in early 2019, creating 20 new jobs. Almost one year later with tremendous success, increasing daily revenue over 36%, Sherrie secured a $100,000 SBA 7a community advantage loan for working capital and the completion of property renovations, upgrades and new fixtures and equipment needed for the successful increase in business volume since purchase, and to facilitate continued business growth. Cielito, who is better known as “Sherrie,” successfully started in the food business by participating for many years at the open-air “626 Night Market” located at the iconic Los Angeles County Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.
After numerous successful years operating this 10×20 foot food booth with her sister Charina Vergara (Char), the sister team successfully purchased their existing Filipino restaurant in West Covina. Char Vergara works in day to day operations of the restaurant, while Sherrie, still holding down a full-time job with LAUSD, operates as CEO handling bookkeeping/payroll, human resource compliance, property, and capital resource administration. Their combined history of restaurant experience and operations management has enabled the successful startup of Tita’s of Manila, and with this new loan they anticipate continued revenue growth, staff employment, and creating a better dining experience for growing new business and repeat customers.
Mancora Peruvian Cuisine
Jorge Wong grew up in the restaurant business with his family and came to the U.S. as college student in communication. Over ten years he established himself as a local hispanic radio station DJ representing advertisers specializing in auto sales. His radio DJ exposure made him a well-known personality that also gave him many community connections that also led to years of event planning work with the Beverly Hotel.
Jorge subsequently desired a return to the restaurant business, and with his many community connections and infamous celebrity he launched his first restaurant in 2017, MANCORA PERUVIAN CUISINE. He picked Alhambra for this first location because there was no other Peruvian restaurant around. The Peruvian restaurant was a success and Jorge began to envision bringing his unique cultural restaurant to other locations. With his strong connections in various hispanic markets he found possible demand within the East LA/Monterey Park area; far enough from Alhambra not too compete, but close enough in which he could manage two restaurants. His concerns however were to avoid spreading himself too thin financially, too soon after launching his first restaurant. When a great location in need of a culturally diverse restaurant presented itself with a combination of below market rent and a motivated landlord, Jorge took action. However, he would need financial help as he was still personally burdened with the personal high cost credit card debt used in launching his first restaurant. Turned down by traditional banks due to the high-risk nature of mom and pop restaurants, and without any reasonable investor that would maintain his majority ownership position, this location opportunity seemed likely to go away. Fortunately for Jorge he was referred to PACE Finance by a neighboring business owner who similarly needed an unconventional source of funds for their small business. Jorge worked with Steve Meng, a Pace Finance Loan Counselor, numerous weeks evaluating first location financials and creating reasonable new location revenue projections along with new jobs created. Ultimately, Jorge obtained a PACE Finance $100,000 SBA loan to help refinance some of his high interest credit card debt and secure the needed capital for completing the restaurant build-out including architectural design, permitting, fixtures & equipment, and working capital startup costs. As a result the second location of MANCORA PERUVIAN CUISINE was successfully opened in September 2019 contributing nine new jobs outside of family members, and has been steadily building new and repeat customers. Jorge Wong has been busy overseeing and stabilizing the operations of his two locations but is excited about the future as he is learning how best to scale a successful restaurant business.
Kachi Deli Café & Grill
Kachi Deli Café & Grill is a local Los Angeles small business owned by Mariano and Maria Farber, a dynamic husband and wife team. Maria and Mariano first opened an empanada restaurant and settled on San Diego’s Pacific Beach boardwalk as the perfect location for this innovative concept. However, as new immigrants venturing to start their first business, they faced a number of obstacles including not knowing what resources were available to them and not being able to secure a lease. Then, in 2008, an opportunity for a lease presented itself in Los Angeles.
While maintaining full-time employment, Maria and Mariano would make the 2 hour drive up from San Diego on weekends to work on building out their restaurant. The cuisine would focus on dishes that the couple enjoyed eating; healthy, fresh, organic and gourmet café-fare with an Argentinean twist. The couple invested $80,000 of their life savings into the business and construction took 6 months. Finally, in 2009, Maria and Mariano took a leap of faith, quit their jobs in San Diego, and officially moved to Los Angeles to open Kachi Deli Café & Grill with 3 employees. Kachi’s grand opening was a huge success – the restaurant actually ran out of plates on the first day due to the overwhelming number of customers that came in!
One particular customer changed Kachi’s course of business. Swann Do, Director of PACE’s Women’s Business Center (WBC), was a regular Kachi customer and by coincidence connected with Maria and Mariano. Swann referred the couple to PACE WBC where she reviewed their business plan proposal, assisted them with securing financing, and referred interns from the WBC Entrepreneurship Training Program. Maria and Mariano credit much of their success to getting assistance and mentorship from PACE WBC. With business booming, in early 2010 they were able to move Kachi to its current location at 1055 Wilshire — a bright, airy space that is 2.5 times bigger than the original location.
Fast forward to 2017. Kachi currently employees 15 full-time and 4 part-time employees and revenues have increased almost 300% since the first year of operation! Two employees, inspired by Kachi’s success, have even left to start businesses of their own. Kachi opened their 2nd location in 2018 inside the Good Samaritan Hospital.
The PACE – BusinessSource Central West Region assisted Lisa Berry in obtain her LA Business Tax Registration Certificate that will allow her business, Blended Berries Tea, to be in compliance.
In November 2017, Lisa started this business to help people live a more natural and healthy lifestyle. Growing up in a low income neighborhood and being the first college graduate, Lisa felt it was her
duty to be an agent of change. She thought she only needed a permit to sell for her business and didn’t know she had to charge sales tax on her products. Many LA entrepreneurs starting out are in a similar situation, being unaware or unfamiliar with all the rules of starting a business.
However, Cathleen Hy, a BSC business coach, was able to offer one-on-one business consulting and help Lisa navigate through the different government websites. Cathleen also clarified to Lisa that when she obtained a Seller Permit, she was suppose to charge the 9.5% Sales Tax on her products. Lisa needed to keep the money on the side so she can pay the taxes to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration by the end of each quarter. Cathleen was able to help Lisa update the settings on Blended Berries Tea’s website to account for the sales tax. The assistance she received allowed Lisa to keep her Seller’s Permit and continue her business, creating and retaining her job. Lisa will continue working with Cathleen as her business grows and will need financing when the time comes to expand.
Stories like these allow budding entrepreneurs to have confidence in the resources available to help them succeed!
Contact PACE Business Development Center to see if we can help you too!
Buna Ethiopian Market
Helina Zerfu (center) accepting award at Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s 3rd Annual Small Business Award Ceremony. Joined by Director of PACE Women’s Business Center, Swann Do (right), and PACE Loan Counselor, Steve Meng (left).
Helina Zerfu immigrated to Los Angeles from Ethiopia in 2004. After many years of working in the restaurant industry, she opened her own restaurant “Buna Ethiopian Market” in 2011. She found that her customers enjoyed the dishes she prepared using family recipes. Though she was a master in preparing these wonderful dishes, Helina realized that she had little knowledge of how to run a business. She came to PACE Women’s Business Center (WBC) looking to increase her business skills.
Helina enrolled in the five week intensive Entrepreneur Training Program (ETP) and learned about how to run a successful business. She completed the program, yet did not stop her training. She continued to meet one-on-one with her mentor, Swann Do, PACE WBC Director. In 2014, PACE helped Helina secure a $21,000 Small Business Administration microloan to upgrade her restaurant’s kitchen equipment.
In March of 2015, Buna Ethiopian Market was recognized in an LA Weekly list of ‘99 Essential Restaurants’ in Los Angeles. This recognition has helped her restaurant stand out from other competitors in her neighborhood and her sales have more than doubled. Helina’s five-year plan now includes creating a more casual family-style menu and opening additional locations in Los Angeles. She contributes much of her success to great mentorship and access to resources with the help of PACE Women’s Business Center.
Chichen Itza Restaurant is a family owned and operated business inside the Mercado la Paloma in south Los Angeles. Established over 15 years ago, the restaurant specializes in Yucatecan food, a mixture of Mayan, Spanish & Lebanese recipes. Chef and owner Gilberto Cetina has been recognized as one of the top Latino chefs in the country and has been written up in publications like GQ Magazine, Hispanic Magazine, Culinary R&B, and LA Weekly, just to name a few. Just last month, Chichen Itza was selected as one of Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold’s 101 Best Restaurants. Chef Cetina began working with the Central West BusinessSource Center in early September. He was seeking financing to expand his restaurant and purchase equipment for a new catering kitchen. With assistance from Loan Counselor, Alvaro Bermudez, Chef Cetina applied for an SBA microloan. That same month, Chichen Itza was approved for a $25,000 loan. They plan to have a new kitchen and hire 4 new staff by early 2017.
Hollywood, CA Location
Hannes Poelleritzer and Stefan Poelleritzer, owners of the new Open Source Organic Juice Bars in Los Angeles, has worked with the Central West BusinessSource Center for the past year after purchasing it from another business owner. The two brothers are new immigrants to the United States, but had a dream of owning a retail store that sold organic fresh made fruit and vegetable juice.
The Poelleritzers originally came to the center inquiring about obtaining the necessary information to apply for a business loan. They wanted $40,000 to purchase equipment and use the extra funds for working capital for their new store. Their vision was to create easy access for everyone who wanted something healthy and organic. They expanded their business to a juice truck serving the communities around Los Angeles. Their store is located on 7107 W Sunset Blvd, Hollywood CA 90046.
The Wing Fix
An immigrant from Japan, Harumi Kim came to the US as an exchange student. After college, Harumi worked in different industries but eventually found her passion as an entrepreneur. Harumi and her husband went into business with a friend to start a gourmet Asian-fusion chicken wing restaurant, “The Wing Fix”.
When their business partner unexpectedly left, Harumi and her husband were left with managing and operating the business. After struggling for months, she came to PACE. Harumi enrolled in the PACE’s Women’s Business Center in November 2012 and worked with Swann Do. After attending several business development courses, Harumi was able to create a long-term plan for the success of her business. Harumi continues to come to PACE to find ways to expand her business.
Harumi’s business created seven jobs. She even sends her employees, who are now part-owners in the business, to take courses at PACE. Harumi said, “I believe with my whole heart that with passion, focus, and knowledge our dream to go beyond the first store could come true.”
Check out the PACE Women’s Business Center and see how we can help you too!