Oakland Food Enterprise Reinventing Itself Amid Pandemic with CDFI Support
Client: Javier Sandes, owner of Javi's Cooking
Client Location: Oakland, CA
CDFI: Pacific Community Ventures
CDFI Service Area: CA
$100,000 loan and technical assistance, with support from the Google.org Grant Program
After injuries forced Buenos Aires native and futbol player Javier Sandes to find a new career, he turned to cooking. Starting in 2009 with a mobile food business in Oakland, CA, he went on to launch Javi’s Cooking in 2011 as a wholesale empanada business and Argentine BBQ catering enterprise. Next he decided to expand with a brick-and-mortar location. However, he would need outside capital to make it happen. Traditional banks denied his loan requests, saying the business was too small and too new, so he contacted Pacific Community Ventures (PCV) who made him a $100,000 loan.
It didn’t take long until business was booming. Javi began signing contracts with Bon Appétit, sports stadiums, school districts, summer festivals, and more—until the coronavirus pandemic hit. Javi’s Cooking lost 100 percent of its wholesale business. Now Javi is focused on reinventing his company and figuring out how to maintain everything his team has worked so hard for over the last eight years. PCV paused Javi’s loan payments, as they’ve done for most clients, and he secured a PPP loan, both of which have provided a boost. Despite the challenges, he’s not ready to throw in the towel. His plan for 2020 is to safely stay open, expand his menu, and rebuild.
“I look around and I thank God I’m still standing, with so many businesses closing down. I arrived in this country 18 years ago, the same day I turned 23, with $700 in my pocket and a backpack full of dreams,” Javier says. “I wasn’t scared about not speaking English. I put myself into school to learn English, found a job after three days, and I started my own story in this country. I met the nicest people, many of which became family later on. I was creating opportunities and making new friends every day. When you put all the time and effort into the right things, it will pay off. I know I will keep building great new things.”