After his first taste of kebab-topped pizza on a trip to Scandinavia, Chicago-based restaurant owner Simon Mikhail knew he wanted to bring the dish stateside. He opened his first location of Si-Pie Pizzeria and found success with the unique offering. Wanting to expand to a second location, Mikhail applied for a loan from a traditional bank but was turned down.
Looking for additional funding options, Mikhail found Kabbage, an online financial company backed by American Express that specializes in small business loans. (Resy is also backed by American Express.) In addition to providing capital for expansion, restaurants can apply for Kabbage Funding for marketing, equipment, payroll, hiring, or general cash flow management. While traditional banks can require a voluminous pile of documents and several weeks to evaluate applications, Kabbage’s platform uses online data connections to verify information and make decisions quickly.
Thanks to his ability to secure funding and keep growing, Mikhail now has four brick and mortar locations of Si-Pie Pizzeria. We spoke to both Mikhail and Brett Sussman, VP of Marketing at Kabbage, to hear their best advice for securing financing for your restaurant.
1. The most important thing for small businesses [seeking funding] is to shop and compare their options. Eligibility requirements, fees, and terms will differ from provider to provider, and even product to product. Think about and the type of experience you want, like a fast, online application or the ability to speak with someone in-person. – Brett Sussman, VP of Marketing, Kabbage
2. I was about to take a loan with another company, but the terms said we’d have to make payments toward the loan daily. I didn’t want to have to do that in case we were running low on cash. Suddenly, I found an ad for Kabbage, was approved for $15,000 in minutes, and the once-a-month payments made it easy for us. – Simon Mikhail, Owner, Si-Pie Pizzeria (Chicago)
3. When evaluating your loan options, consider your intention of the use of funds – is it for a one-time need? How much capital will you need? For how long will you need it? – BS
4. My number one mistake was that I didn’t ask for more money when seeking a loan. Always ask for more. Because everything always costs at least one and a half times more than what you think it will cost. – SM
5. [Kabbage] encourages businesses that have existed for at least one year, are generating revenue, and have an active bank account to apply. – BS
6. It’s difficult to get funding when your business is slow. When COVID-19 hit, our business was down 60%. We knew we had to adapt to a new way of life and find other sources to make money. I saw third-party takeout and delivery apps were taking a 30% cut, so I created my own app instead. – SM
You can learn more about Kabbage Funding for Restaurant Loans here.
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Scott Hocker is a writer, editor, recipe developer, cookbook author, and content and editorial consultant. He has worked in magazines, kitchens, newsletters, restaurants and a bunch of other environments he can’t remember right now. He has also been the editor in chief of both liquor.com and Tasting Table.