Restauranteurs Expand Their Brand - The University of La Verne Small Business Development Center (SBDC)
Assisting Clients in the
Eastern San Gabriel Valley
hosted by: University of La Verne SBDC

Restauranteurs Expand Their Brand

Small Business Development Center hosted by Pacific Coast Regional
Great Mex Grill

When restaurateur Juvenal Alonzo, serial entrepreneur Betsy Densmore, and retired retail executive Michael Babcock first met, they quickly realize that their complementary skills and experience gave them the perfect ingredients for business success. The friends formed a partnership to expand Alonzo’s restaurant, Great Mex Grill, and in 2008, opened a Long Beach location. By 2010, they were ready to grow even more, and Densmore visited the Pacific Coast Regional SBDC for help obtaining a loan.

Best Advice:
SBDC Business Advisor, Myron Perryman helped Densmore estimate the costs of opening the new location, prepare loan documents and obtain two loans. The SBDC also advised the partners on business interruption insurance, legal issues and corporate documents.

Lessons Learned:

  • Don’t give up. We talked to several other banks prior to going to the SBDC at PCR,” says Densmore. “[The people at] Pacific Coast Regional were the first to listen, look beyond the numbers, find out about the principals and take an approach to see how the deal could be done.”
  • Presentation is important. Getting a loan for a new restaurant is challenging at the best of times. Perryman worked with Densmore to put together a loan package and develop cash flow projections that included best-case and worst case scenarios. “The coaching in how to present our financial information was so helpful,” says Densmore.
  • Protect your assets. The SBDC advised Densmore on the importance of having the proper insurance coverage, including business interruption insurance, for the high-risk restaurant industry.

Great Mex Grill obtained two microloans from PCR for a total of $60,000 to finance a new location, which opened in July 2011 and has generated 10 new jobs. The partners plan to grow the business to several locations in the Southern California area, with another unit projected to open in 2013 or 2014.
Densmore continues to rely on the experts at the SBDC, where she’s now getting advice on making the company’s website more effective and using social media marketing. “I’m impressed by the range of expertise that their counselors and staff have, and their general willingness to help us with any problem or question we have,” she says. “We have experienced them as being our partners, not just our lenders.”

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