Rice & Spice
After working in and managing several Thai restaurants in Northern Virginia and recently graduating from the University of Maryland, Natalie Tantivejakul decided to open her own modest operation in Alexandria in 2001, named Rice & Spice. After three years, she felt she was ready to expand and came to the Alexandria SBDC for help. She believed that the new Asian Fusion concept was the future for a large operation, and she began the search for a location in Washington, DC.
The SBDC business analyst worked closely with her in 2005 for six months to develop a comprehensive business plan in order to approach lenders for a $4.0 million SBA 504 loan. The capital would finance a first-floor condominium space, the build out, and the equipment in a location near the Verizon Center in the trendy West Penn area. The search for an interested lender, the loan application process, the approval, and the restaurant’s opening spanned two years.
Success breeds confidence, and in 2011, after three years of profitable operation from both restaurants, Natalie came to the Alexandria SBDC for assistance with developing a loan package and finding a lender for a third spot, Rice & Spice II, to be located in a shopping center in the West End area of Alexandria. After the business analyst assisted her with developing the loan presentation package, finding a lender (BB&T), and completing the build out, she opened in early 2012. She and the General Manager of Asia Nine also met with the SBDC’s social media counselor to discuss ways to increase dinner traffic using new social media technology and platforms. Last year’s sales were healthy and each restaurant was profitable.
Natalie is now busy planning her fourth location in suburban Maryland to expand her brand. This young woman is certainly a knowledgeable and motivated entrepreneur.