The owners of 10-month-old, family-owned Mateo’s Taqueria in the Mission aim to have their food bring people together.
Judging from today’s lively lunchtime crowd packing the sleek eatery, the savvy business owners are definitely meeting this goal. Around 200 customers a day can be seen savoring Mexican specialties, such as the best-selling fish tacos, at this colorful brick-and-mortar space. A blossoming catering business provides additional weekly revenue.
Mateo’s Taqueria is tucked between 20th and 21st streets, amid the hustle and bustle of the Mission Street commercial corridor. This fresh addition to the neighborhood also features fresh ingredients, with organic, sustainable products always purchased from fewer than 100 miles away.
When the eatery applied for certification as a San Francisco Green Business, Mateo’s Taqueria was proud that the practices already in place all met or exceeded the standards set forth.
Now with the help of MEDA’s community lending arm, Adelante Fund, the family will be opening a second meeting ground for the community. This venue will be at 1455 Market Street near 11th, where a projected 400 daily customers will stop in or order online. A $100,000 5-year loan is making this a reality – a loan the family could not get at traditional banks.
When Mateo’s owners spoke with a lender at a branch in the Mission, they were not offered a business loan. The lender actually joked that even he couldn’t get a loan for himself from his bank. Things have definitely tightened since the Great Recession.
Mateo’s owners later serendipitously heard about MEDA’s Adelante Fund from a friend who works at Kiva.
Adelante Fund was launched to provide access to capital for community-based businesses that may not be able to garner a loan at conventional financial institutions.
In the case of Mateo’s Taqueria, the owners came to MEDA because they had not been in their Mission space for two to three years, which is the timeframe most traditional banks require to even consider eligibility for a small-business loan.
One criterion for a loan approval from Adelante Fund is that the enterprise hire from the community. At the Mateo’s location on Mission Street, there are currently 15 employees, all from the local Latino neighborhood. The Market Street location is slated to hire 14 to 17 workers, also primarily Latinos. This is a means to building community capital.
Mateo’s Taqueria explains its employee philosophy as follows: “We take care of our staff. Each member is eligible for employer-sponsored health insurance, a 401(k) retirement plan, receives a meal with their shift and is offered a generous discount. We want staff to be able to afford life in San Francisco and build a career as part of our Mateo’s family.”
The family has a track record of running successful restaurants. Grandma once ran a popular eatery in Noe Valley, the former 24th Street Café. At Mateo’s Taqueria, some family members help with operations, while others assist with catering orders.
“Opened less than a year ago, the quick success of Mateo’s Taqueria is because of the owners’ commitment to providing not only a healthy menu and a welcoming atmosphere, but also getting involved in the community and creating local jobs,” explains Adelante Fund Manager Diana Matei-Golopenta of why a small-business loan was offered to this enterprise. “Acknowledging the business owners’ savviness and dedication, plus the business model’s success, Adelante Fund has lent $100K so this business can expand to a second location. We know/believe this business will succeed and better the community.”
The Mateo’s Taqueria Market Street location is currently being built out, with a planned October grand opening.
This is a win for the community.
If you have questions about the Community Loan Fund, please contact us: (415) 282-3334 ext. 130; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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