To say 2020 was a rough year for restaurants in the US would be an understatement. But as most restaurant owners were just hoping to find a way to stay afloat amid COVID shutdowns, Chloria Chandler was counting her good fortune. That’s because shortly before the pandemic, Chloria sought—and received—a very timely small business loan.
In truth, Chloria had no idea what was on the horizon when she put in a simple, online application with Lendio. Her goal, like 93% of small business owners seeking loans*, was to work with a one-stop shop for lending that could connect her with funding opportunities and a small business loan. Chloria was hoping to scale Bobbee O’s, the restaurant founded by her granduncle, Bob Roberts, that she took over when she was just 24 years old. She didn’t realize at the time that she may also need to tap into the funds she applied for in order to weather a pandemic that she didn’t see coming.
Chloria was working hands-on in the restaurant about 80 hours a week at the time, which made scaling the business next to impossible. She needed a team — and finding the right personnel meant taking on some additional funding. She wanted to work with a reliable business capital partner, which is why she turned to Lendio to learn her options.
The small business funding that Lendio helped her find, along with the easy process, says Chloria today, “literally saved my business. We cannot thank Chase [our Lendio representative] enough for the work he did for us at the beginning of 2020. Corona would have taken us off the market for sure if it was not for the moves we made with Lendio right before the onset of the virus.”
Chloria admits that, like all family-operated restaurants, business has been a challenge since the start of the pandemic, but the hard work is paying off. Plus, it’s worth it to keep the business to keep alive the dream started by her granduncle Bob, the original Bobbee O, who began cooking as a child, when he would occasionally be invited into the kitchen to help his mom prepare the midday family meal.
After serving in Vietnam, Bob returned home and took jobs in various restaurants—everything from fast-food chains to BBQ joints to Red Lobster. But it was a long-term role at a Raleigh, North Carolina, BBQ restaurant where Bob began tinkering with his own recipe and technique for pulled pork and sauce. It took nearly five years to perfect, but eventually, he found the right balance for his barbecue sauce. Twenty-two years later, when he retired, Bob tapped into his savings to open Bobbee O’s BBQ. The restaurant has been going strong ever since and has been named Best BBQ in Charlotte, Best Ribs in Charlotte, Best Pulled Pork in Charlotte, and was North Carolina’s only entry in Parade’s Top 10 New School BBQ Restaurants in the Nation (2013).
While the restaurant has reopened for indoor dining, that doesn’t mean everything is back to normal quite yet. Family-owned restaurants across the nation still face supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, and more. Chloria, however, sees hope for the future. “After every long day, a smile or thank you from one of my customers always reminds me that I am helping bring my uncle’s dream of having the best BBQ restaurant around come true.”