Napa Sonoma SBDCSanta Rosa and Napa, California

“I want to thank the SBDC for all of their expert assistance in helping me to open the Napa Valley Bistro. They have truly been instrumental in my overall success.”

Bernardo Ayala

Bernardo Ayala had extensive contact with advisors at the Napa SBDC during his tenure as executive chef at Silverado Brewing Company. He and owner Michael Fradelizio successfully accessed SBDC assistance for several years, receiving assistance in restaurant management, food, beverage and labor cost control as well as overcoming operational challenges to become a wildly successful leader in the local, sustainable food scene. In the spring of 2013, Bernardo requested assistance to evaluate a restaurant site that had become available and to assist him in opening the proposed restaurant, Napa Valley Bistro.

Client requested start up assistance in organizing tasks, creating opening time line and assistance in evaluating the feasibility of the business. The physical plant is turn-key and Client can come in with a small project cost due to the condition of the restaurant. This location is an asset sale but has most of the needed equipment. Clients have 60 to 75K in capital and possibly needed bridge loan or investors. Bernardo also requested assistance in creating an opening timeline for the business.

The SBDC suggested Bernardo attend business start- up class. They reviewed tasks and suggested creating a calendar with all the tasks leading up to completion of remodel, inspections, permits, regulatory compliance, hiring, training, pre parties etc. The SBDC met with Bernardo and reviewed and revised the calendar of opening tasks and answered his questions about different regulatory compliance issues such as sequence of inspections, approvals and required permits. In the process, they met with Bernardo and POS representatives to get a bid on updating the point of sale system to current software and inputting their menu and modifiers. Bernardo sent the SBDC the business plan and projections and they gave Bernardo the initial feedback on the projections and they were lowered to be less aggressive.  The SBDC reviewed tasks involved with the loan process, timing and checklist. The SBDC advised Bernardo to get look at different banks and obtain check list to begin to assemble documents.

The SBDC provided press list for sending press release to announce new restaurant opening. The SBDC provided edits to their press releases as well as edits and info on strategy for PR. They also discussed benefits of marketing via Constant Contact or e-marketing campaigns Bernardo brought images and text; signed up for Constant Contact for first e-blast. The SBDC assisted Bernardo in designing the masthead for the first blast and help design a template they can use in the future. The SBDC provided training for future blasts. They discussed strategies for using e-marketing effectively as well as the importance of list management and how to grow the list.

Napa Valley Bistro opened for business May 1, 2013. The business created 10 new jobs and has an equity injection consistent with initial estimates. The build-out took just the amount of time that Bernardo estimated with the help of the SBDC. The SBDC has done follow up visits to determine the right balance of technical assistance that would ensure future success. Happy first birthday Napa Valley Bistro!

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA or HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.