With incredible stops on Monday in Tampa and on Tuesday in Washington, DC, CEO Noah Breslow headed to Chicago along with Kimberly Solarz, Marketing Communications Manager, to continue his mission of visiting as many small businesses as possible in 1 week.

To start the day, Noah and Kimberly went to chat with a true Chicago restaurant legend – and OnDeck customer – Michael Moretti, owner of La Luce Italian Restaurant in the West Loop area. As we sat among the antique fixtures and Bing Crosby playlist in the background, the team got an unfiltered look in to life as a restaurant owner.

  • On starting his business: In 1988, my father said he found a building in a nice part of town that we could get for a fair price to start a restaurant. I guess he wasn’t wrong – Dads always know a good deal!
  • On getting repeat customers: People from the suburbs love coming to our restaurant to watch the Blackhawks and the Bulls games. If you are in a service business, you need to make it easy for your customers to have a good time so they will want to come back.
  • On street construction: It’s a small business owner’s nightmare. When they were tearing up the street in front of us, we lost a lot of customers. If it’s happening in your area, you need to know about it and know that it’s going to take twice as long as everyone says it will.
  • On being an OnDeck customer: I always say that you pay for what you get. And you when take out an OnDeck loan, you spend a little more to get amazing customer service that you won’t find anywhere else and a lender that actually cares about you.

We then opened up the restaurant to other local business owners in the area for lunch – the invite was so popular, we needed to pull up a second table! Each business went around the table with his or her best piece of small business advice:

Vincent Domingo, Franklin Park Chiropractic Center:

You need to hire the right people if you want to grow your business, and talk to the right people if you want to stay ahead of small business regulation. Have a good lawyer, accountant, insurance agent, etc.

Geneva Currin,owner of Halsted Flowers:
If you aren’t having fun, and you aren’t making money, something needs to change. Both are equally important.

C. Whitman, Edible Arrangements

Access to capital is challenging, no matter what industry you are in. That’s why companies like OnDeck are so important.

Michael Topalovich, Delivered Innovation

Banks are almost impossible to work with – their underwriters simply don’t understand us. And, always remember that there is a difference between revenue and cash flow.

On the final day of the tour, Noah heads to Minneapolis to visit Fan Man Lighting and appear on Fox 9 Morning Buzz with Tom Halden. We’re also giving away $2,500 to a small business in each of the 4 cities we’re visiting – you can learn more about our contest on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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