Small Business Success Story
Yutaro Iwamura, President/CEO of BBQ Sensation, LLC
“Every bank or institute we visited asked how much money we had. I needed money; that’s why I was knocking on the door. We just kept repeating that process until we found Florida Capital Bank. Their focus was on our business plan, the business model, and our experience, while other organizations focused on our account balance and real estate.”
Hospitality comes naturally to Yutaro Iwamura. After acquiring 30 years of experience with one of Japan’s most successful retail and hospitality companies, he established a successful consulting business in the Central Florida community.
When he learned a growing restaurant concept was seeking new markets for expansion, though, he decided to make the leap from advising restaurant owners to becoming one.
“I was working with Gyu-Kaku, a Japanese BBQ dining concept, to find a franchisee for the Southeast region,” he explained. “The more I looked into this business model, I thought, ‘I could do this myself.’”
Yutaro proceeded with seeking a financial institution to help him open Central Florida’s first Gyu-Kaku restaurant. Despite his decades of experience and the existing success of the restaurant’s brand, he had difficulty securing a loan — until he came to Florida Capital Bank.
“Every bank or institute we visited asked how much money we had. I needed money; that’s why I was knocking on the door,” he said. “We just kept repeating that process until we found Florida Capital Bank. Their focus was on our business plan, the business model, and our experience, while other organizations focused on our account balance and real estate.”
Florida Capital Bank assisted Yutaro in applying for a $2.2 million loan from the Small Business Administration to cover the costs of building and opening his restaurant. The loan was closed in February 2016. Gyu-Kaku opened its doors in October of that year.
By December, the restaurant was posting profits.
“It was a long and bumpy road, but with Florida Capital Bank we were focused on the same goal. We had very good communication, which is key for this business,” said Yutaro.
Today, Gyu-Kaku is a popular destination for families, young professionals, and the many tourists who pass through Central Florida every day. Yutaro is working hard to expand awareness for his restaurant and hopes to open a second location near the University of Central Florida or Walt Disney World.
With a full dining room and big plans on the horizon, Yutaro is thankful to have found a financial services partner that shares his commitment to providing excellent customer service.
“People make the difference,” he says. “And at Florida Capital Bank, they have good people. That’s the difference.”
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