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One of America’s greatest chefs used an SBA 504 loan . . .
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I tell people all the time that the SBA 504 loan is the “best-kept secret” in commercial real estate financing for a myriad of reasons. But I know not everyone believes me wholeheartedly. To this day, the SBA 504 loan is still considered a second-tier or third-tier financing option by many people, and often it’s considered by business owners and lenders only as a “last resort.” That’s truly unfortunate, but you can help me change that perception (more on this in a minute) once I tell you an interesting story . . .

I’d like you to consider the true tale of Thomas Keller . . . as one more reason to do away with those outdated (and incorrect) ideas regarding the SBA 504 loan. Are you familiar with Thomas Keller? He’s a famous — dare I say, “truly world-famous” — chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author . . . and he got his start with an SBA 504 loan.

Keller opened the world-renowned French Laundry restaurant in 1994 in the heart of Napa Valley with an SBA 504 loan. His restaurant quickly became a huge success, winning multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation (including “Best California Chef” in 1996 and “Best Chef in America” in 1997). The French Laundry has become a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the “Top 50 Restaurants in the World.” He’s also the only American chef ever to have been awarded 3-star Michelin Guide ratings for two different restaurants simultaneously. Currently, Keller oversees nine restaurants around the country, one of them being my favorite breakfast spot in Las Vegas (Bouchon) and another being the more famous Per Se in New York City (celebrities are always clamoring to get in there). Most recently, he was featured on the April 2010 cover of Wine Spectator, which caught my attention and prompted this blog post. To a “foodie” like me, he’s as close to American chef “royalty” as you can get.

There’s a lot more to Thomas Keller’s interesting story, but the point I want to make is this: If an SBA 504 loan is good enough for Thomas Keller, then it’s certainly good enough for you or someone you know.

This loan program no longer belongs in the “last resort” category for business owners and entrepreneurs who are serious about growing their companies, creating wealth, and working toward worry-free retirements. In fact, these loans are often the ONLY viable options for commercial lending these days. So why waste time chasing ordinary financing, getting turned down by bank after bank and having to put in two to three times the down payment, when you can shortcut that process and get a much better loan by STARTING with the best possible deal — an SBA 504 loan?

By the way, we closed nearly three times as many loans in the first five months of 2010 than we did in the same period in 2009, and our dollar-volume is up 766.3% so far this year. We ARE still providing the kind of financing that got Thomas Keller started, and we’re doing it nationwide. Call me at 1-866-622-4-504 when you know of someone who is (or ought to be) interested in owning their commercial property, and we’ll get to work on their (or your) behalf to provide Smarter Commercial Property Financing via the SBA 504 loan. You can also just email me at with details of a deal you’d like our help with.

Dedicated to Your Continued Success,


P.S. The only thing about Thomas Keller’s story that saddens me is that Mercantile wasn’t able to help him with his SBA 504 loan. He got his financing and opened The French Laundry in 1993-94, and we didn’t open for business until 2002. At least we have the 504 in common, but it would have been an honor to work with him on that project.

P.P.S. If you haven’t “fanned” or “liked” us on yet on Facebook, or if you’re not following us on Twitter, go here and here now to stay even more up-to-date on our “goings and doings.”

P.P.P.S. And if you get into the French Laundry, Bouchon, Per Se, or one of his other six restaurants, do think fondly of us . . . we have to travel hundreds of miles to visit. 🙂

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One Comment

  1. Bud Violet says:

    Hi Chris,
    Even this guy from RI has been to the French Laundry. Great Restaurant and great story.

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