Originally posted in ACE October 2021 Newsletter.
Charina Vergara began her culinary career as a food vendor at local night markets where she offered original Filipino cuisine. In 2019, she was offered a business opportunity to take over an existing Filipino restaurant. Ms. Vergara & her business partner jumped on the chance and became the new owners of Titas of Manila in West Covina, CA.
Like many other small business owners needing capital, Ms. Vergara initially used her personal savings to launch and operate the restaurant. However, the funds were soon exhausted. Fortunately, she was connected to PACE Business where she worked with Loan Officer Redy Babasa-Thompson to obtain a $100,000 SBA Community Advantage Loan.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March of 2020, Titas of Manila was forced to temporarily close down and later drastically alter its operations in order to comply with the Governor’s statewide closures of dine-in restaurants. As a relatively new venture with only 14 months of operation under its belt, the restaurant almost immediately felt the adverse effects of the pandemic: staffing was cut by 50%, menus were streamlined, and expenses were cut in order to further mitigate financial loss.
Ms. Vergara once again connected with PACE and Mr. Babasa-Thompson helped her secure an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), 1st draw PPP loan, and, most recently, a 2nd draw PPP loan for $149,950.
Thanks to PACE’s guidance and Ms. Vergara’s perseverance, while other businesses and restaurants were closing down during the height of the pandemic, Titas of Manila stayed afloat and continued serving delicious and authentic Filipino meals.
“We were terrified by the uncertainty of the situation. But financial help came in. Thanks to PACE, we had a lifeline that allowed us to continue running the restaurant, despite the uncertainty. We know we can always count on PACE to help us when the going gets tough,” said Ms. Vergara.
With business now stabilized, Ms. Vergara is working with PACE once again to obtain a Small Business Grant in order to expand her business.
Learn more about Titas of Manila on their website.