Ariel Barbouth plans to take his Nuchas brand of Latin American specialty foods all over the world. More immediately, he is concentrating efforts on his third location, a kiosk in Greeley Square Park in Midtown Manhattan that he opened in November 2013.
Argentine-born Barbouth secured a $150,000 loan for his newest kiosk through the SBA's Community Advantage Loan program. The Community Advantage loan program focuses on small businesses in underserved communities, with a goal of driving economic growth and creating jobs. The targeted loan program, which launched in early 2011, provides 7(a) loans up to $250,000.
He used the $150,000, three-year Community Advantage loan to make improvements to the Greeley Square Park kiosk, purchase a van and fund inventory. He financed his food truck with a $345,500 loan through The 504 Company.
"I truly have partners I can go to. If it wasn't for this loan, we probably would have brought on more investors, which we didn't want to do," Barbouth said. "Now we have a really beautiful location, right in the middle of Times Square."
The kiosk is within walking distance of such tourist attractions as the Empire State Building, the Manhattan Mall and the Macy's flagship store, and is just one block from Penn Station.
Revenue from Nuchas' artisan empanadas, sweet croissants and other hand-held Argentinian specialties has doubled every year since 2011. Barbouth expects to finish 2014 with more than $4 million in sales from his two kiosks (the first opened in the center of Times Square in 2011), a food truck that began operating in 2012 and a catering business that is expected to generate $300,000 in sales this year.
Nuchas employs 35 full-and part-time people, and that number is expected to grow to 50 by mid-2015. The Greeley Square kiosk added seven jobs.
The Nuchas brand is gaining swift recognition, both on the streets and in the press.
In 2013, Nuchas' food truck received Vendys Rookie of the Year award. The Vendys, sponsored by the non-profit Street Vendor Project, recognize the best street food in New York City. That same year, Nuchas also walked away with Best New York food truck in the Food Truck Throwdown held in Boston.
"Nuchas as a brand is already recognizable. However, as a small business, it still struggles to access financing from the conventional route," said Yurinha Schmidt, assistant vice president at The 504 Company.
"Due to his management experience, proven market for such product, perfect payment history with our company and growing client base and media recognition, we decided to offer an additional loan for expansion purposes. We believe in him just as much as we believe in his product," Schmidt said.
Barbouth discovered that his passion for food was strong during his career as a venture capitalist. He found himself investing mainly in start-up food companies, and eventually developed his own pasta sauce business. The sauces won numerous awards, and were once featured on Oprah Winfrey's exclusive "O List."
He is confident that his Argentinian street food will have global appeal. Nuchas' popularity has exploded with customers, and media attention is helping to grow awareness of the Nuchas brand even more.
"Right now we are building the foundation for the business," Barbouth said. "We expect to build and grow a national brand, and eventually take it overseas."