Annie and Gonzalo decided to come back to San Francisco to start a family, leaving their full-service restaurant behind in Argentina. When they arrived, they discovered a lack of good Argentine bites and decided to open a café that would show tribute to Argentinian culture as well as coming back to Annie’s roots of growing up in San Francisco. San Francisco SBDC started working with Chalos, a start-up restaurant, specializing in fresh Argentinian-style empanada, in November 2017.
They found San Francisco challenging to navigate when having difficulty securing a location.
The owners were seeking a grant from the City through the SFShines Program, and San Francisco SBDC helped assess the business viability of Chalos by reviewing its business plan. SBDC advisor graded critical sections of the plan, including marketing, financials, organization, Human Resources and executive summary.
For Chalos, financials and marketing were two areas that the owners needed the most help. Between January and March, the owners worked diligently in one-on-one sessions with SFSBDC advisor, Jim Nguyen, to revise the business assumptions and financial projections. It was a stressful time as one of the owners was working full time while managing a new baby and dealing with lease negotiation. Through it all, the owners worked hard and never gave up. Chalos’ business plan scores improved to 123 from 67 (out of 150), and Chalos was able to receive the SF Shines grant in March 2018. To address marketing the business, Annie & Gonzalo got connected to Molly O’Kane an SFSBDC advisor who specializes in Marketing. Molly worked with Chalos on developing and implementing its marketing plan, focusing on naming, branding, web, social media strategy and community relations. The challenge was to help the owners prioritize essential tasks, meet deadlines and find savings. On social media, we advised the owners to start promoting Chalos on Instagram via a personal account then transition to a business account when the business opens. We also advised on creating an impactful logo and website. Lastly, we recommended the owners on developing ties with local schools and business owners for branding and mentorship. Chalos projects a large customer base from surrounding schools. We also connected Chalos to Kristen Houk, the owner of TATO, who went through a similar experience in launching a restaurant in San Francisco last year.