Bernardo Ayala, Napa Valley Bistro

Thanks to Napa-Sonoma SBDC for this story!

Bernardo Ayala worked extensively with the Napa-Sonoma SBDC during his tenure as executive chef at Silverado Brewing Company. He and owner Michael Fradelizio received assistance in restaurant management, and, thanks to SBDC help, overcame 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.

Bernardo needed start up assistance in organizing tasks, creating a time line for the opening, and help evaluating the feasibility of the business. His proposed location was an asset sale but had most of the equipment he needed. He had 60 to 75K in capital, but wondered if he needed a bridge loan or investors.

Advisor Charlie Monahan suggested Bernardo attend business start-up class. They reviewed tasks and Charlie suggested creating a calendar with all the tasks leading up to completion of remodel, inspections, permits, regulatory compliance, hiring, and training. Together they reviewed and revised the calendar of opening tasks, and Charlie answered Bernardo’s questions about different regulatory compliance issues. Bernardo sent Charlie the business plan and projections and he gave Bernardo the initial feedback on the projections and they were lowered to be less aggressive.

Charlie referred Bernardo to Advisor Carolynne Gamble for marketing assistance. She provided a press list for sending press releases to announce the Bistro’s opening. Gamble helped edit their press releases and build a strategy for their PR campaign. Carolynne also discussed the benefits of e-marketing campaigns. They discussed strategies for using e-marketing effectively as well as the importance of list management and how to grow their subscriber 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. “I want to thank Charlie Monahan and Carolynne Gamble for all of their expert assistance in helping me to open the Napa Valley Bistro,” said Bernardo. “They have truly been instrumental in my overall success.”

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