Client: The Veg Hub
Client Location: Vallejo, CA
CDFI: Working Solutions
CDFI Service Area: CA
Financing and technical assistance
GW Chew is on a mission to get people to embrace a plant-based diet. Something Better Foods LLC was born out of GW’s vision to promote healthier eating and make the concept mainstream. Founded in Arkansas in 2011, Something Better Foods LLC offers plant-based substitutes for meat and dairy products. As Chef Chew says about his product, “It looks like steak, tastes like steak, but guess what? It ain’t steak!”
When Chef Chew decided to move from Arkansas to California, he brought his business with him. In 2016, he worked with his church to open The Veg Hub restaurant in Oakland with a goal of bringing delicious and healthy eating opportunities directly to the East Bay community. Demand quickly outstripped supply, and Chef Chew needed more equipment to produce his plant-based foods. Given his manufacturing business was still in start-up mode with moderate sales, Chef Chew was ineligible for a traditional bank loan.
After meeting the Working Solutions outreach team several times at events in the East Bay and asking questions about how to apply and how to prepare for the loan process, he was ready to move forward with his application. With the support of the Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital program, Working Solutions made a $50,000 loan to Chef Chew and Something Better Foods LLC in September 2017. The loan helped him open his manufacturing facility in Vallejo, California, and complete the new packaging design for his Better Chew product for launch into Whole Foods and other stores.
As a loan recipient, Chef Chew also has access to five years of free, post-loan business consulting through Working Solutions to support the growth of his business. To date, he has received over 30 hours of expert guidance from Working Solutions advisors on topics including navigating distribution and sales channels in the food industry; setting accurate pricing and margins to attain his target profit; and improving operational systems and enhancing efficiency.
“They’ve really helped us to take our business model to the next level,” Chef Chew said about the Working Solutions loan and ongoing technical assistance. “It’s like a family environment, and they really deeply care for what I’m doing.”
Chef Chew’s story was also featured on the Wells Fargo Stories website and illustrates how an early-stage loan from Working Solutions through the Diverse Community Capital program helped him pave the road to success, including expanding into Whole Foods Market locations in Northern California.
As Chef Chew says, he was “born to change lives one chew at a time,” and he is doing just that through his delicious vegan cuisine.
In 2018, Working Solutions honored Chef Chew with the Invest in Dreams Impact Award for bringing healthy foods and good jobs to the East Bay.