Cortland Avenue Corridor

What do Russian-style piroshkies, Peruvian tapas, specialty desserts and vintage cutlery have in common? Loans from microlender Working Solutions.

An unprecedented number of small businesses in the Cortland Avenue Corridor are utilizing an important asset in the San Francisco small business community. Working Solutions, a local nonprofit microlender is providing much-needed capital to businesses that need small loans that traditional banks won’t touch. These businesses needed financing to achieve their strategic objectives outlined in their business plans as well as satisfy their loyal and growing customer base. Due the loans from Working Solutions, these businesses created 17 jobs.

Cake Coquette, located at 903 Cortland, was the first Cortland Avenue business to receive a loan from Working Solutions. Owner Gabrielle Feuersinger specializes in custom wedding cake but has created cakes for every occasion. Her specialty design cakes are known as ‘edible works of art.’ Dozens of national magazines including Bride, Today’s Bride, South Asian Brides and Northern California Brides have feature her and her cakes.

Down the block you will find Piqueos, a Peruvian restaurant located at 830 Cortland Avenue. Owners Carlos and Shu Altamirano wanted to expand their patio and add additional seating so they came to Working Solutions for a micrloan. Carlos, a native Peruvian, incorporates his natural understanding of authentic Peruvian ingredients with his passion for cooking to create a truly unique Latin American experience. Piqueos’ small plates are perfect to share with friends and family.

Move east about four blocks and you will find two Working Solutions borrowers occupying the same retail space.

Bernal Cutlery, a retail cutlery and knife sharpening business, began in 2005 as a home-based sharpening service that catered to local chefs. Owner Ethan Joshua Donald uses the Japanese whetstone technique which keeps knives sharp and strong without wearing down the metal, which immediately made him a chef favorite. Josh asked Working Solutions for a loan to expand his retail space and hire an additional knife sharpener. Bernal Cutlery also has a wide variety of one-of-a-kind and vintage knives from all around the world.

Rounding out the Cortland Avenue Corridor is AnDa Piroshki, a snack café serving Russian-style piroshkies, borsch and Russian tea. Anna grew up making piroshkies – soft dough baked fresh and stuffed with meat, vegetables and savory spices – with her mom in her hometown of Sochi, Russia. When Anna came to America, she wanted to share her Russian heritage with San Franciscans. She learned how to make it as a café owner in San Francisco at a local restaurant incubator, La Cocina. After she outgrew the space, she came to Working Solutions for a loan to move to 331 Cortland Avenue.

Because of the loans from Working Solutions, the Cortland Avenue Corridor bustles with fabulous dining options, beautiful cakes and unique cutlery. Visit these establishments to see how small business loans create jobs, build communities, and help individuals achieve their dreams of business ownership.

Thanks to Kelly Lovlein for submitting the story. Kelly is the Marketing/Operations Manager for Working Solutions.