From Tenant to Owner: Making the Switch

How the proprietors of a popular San Francisco restaurant found financing to buy a mixed-use building through a federal loan program.

Plow, San Francisco

For the proprietors of Plow, a popular restaurant in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood, peace of mind means owning the building where customers have flocked for nearly a decade.

Joel Bleskacek and Maxine Siu, the restaurant’s owners, had rented their venue since starting it in 2010 in a vacant architect’s studio. Located at 1297-1299 18th St., the 4,000-square-foot property comprises the restaurant space, five apartment units and garages. Plow occupies 75 percent of the asset, and all five residential units are occupied. The remaining space is used for storage and office space.

Today, Plow routinely makes lists of San Francisco’s top spots for brunch and lunch. Patrons wait patiently in line for signature dishes like lemon ricotta pancakes or prosciutto and gruyere toast. To Bleskacek and Siu—also a married couple—acquiring the property that houses the restaurant was a logical next step. It took four years of persistent lobbying to persuade the property’s owner to sell the property, but the payoff has been substantial.

Plow (Image: Google Street Maps)

“We don’t have to worry about increased rent or losing our lease,” Bleskacek noted in a statement. “Owning also encourages us to make improvements to the building, as those improvements become equity in the long run.”

Bleskacek and Siu provided a 10 percent down payment on the property. TMC Financing, an SBA lender, secured the $2.5 million loan through the Small Business Administration’s 504 program. The fully amortized loan covers the remaining 90 percent of the deal value and provides the borrowers with a long-term fixed interest rate.

SBA has resumed regular operations after the partial federal government shutdown earlier this winter. Between Jan. 28 and Feb. 22, SBA approved more than 7,900 loans totaling $3.7 billion, according to the Federal News Network.

Image via Google Street View

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