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Mission-Driven Café Gets Support from SBA to Continue Serving

Headshot of Business Owner

Claire Sumadiwirya, owner of Bellden Cafe 

Situation

The concept behind Bellden Café, a mission-driven café in the heart of Bellevue, came from Claire Sumadiwirya’s life. Before opening Bellden Café in 2017, Claire was on a short-term work assignment in Shanghai, China when her newborn son became seriously ill, requiring weeks of hospitalization. Shanghai hospitals don’t have onsite food available and without family and friends nearby to help, Claire would have to leave her son alone in the hospital to get meals or even a simple cup of coffee. One day, Claire was surprised by the hospital staff who brought her a cup of coffee and homemade soup, allowing her to stay with her son. Claire carried the impact of that kind gesture with her back to Bellevue, where she searched for a way to give back to others and create lasting impacts in her community. Claire opened Bellden Café, a community-driven cafe that offers specialty coffee, wholesome house-made food, and sincere hospitality where she’s developed a line of specialty charity drinks that gives 25% of the proceeds from to charities devoted to causes like feeding the homeless, helping families in need, and supporting environmental preservation. However, Claire’s path to success wasn’t always easy, like many entrepreneurs, she started her business under-funded and trying to balance the demands of her business and having three young children. Claire turned to her bank for a business loan to help with unforeseen construction expenses but was denied.

Solution

Claire began researching other opportunities to keep her business open and secured a $50,000 SBA microloan from Business Impact Northwest in 2018.  

Impact

Access to capital was a turning point for Claire’s business, she used the microloan loan for business expansion and working capital that helped keep the café doors open in the beginning. Claire was able to increase her staff from five to 20 and saw annual sales increase 15 – 20% each year. When the pandemic hit, Claire lost 90% of her sales in March 2020, she was prepared to lose everything. Claire was able to secure Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds to keep her entire staff on payroll, while continuing to make her rent payments on time. Claire was able to pivot business operations to include takeout, contactless ordering and delivery, and curbside pickup while still fulfilling her commitment to giving to local charities. Bellden Café also served as a hub for donations to provide coffee and pastries to frontline workers and diapers and groceries for those in need while homeschooling her three young children.

From the Business Owner

“Don’t be discouraged when you’re told no, do the research, find the resources that are available from the SBA.” Sumadiwirya said. “Dream bigger that what you think you can do. With the right support and resources anything is possible. Your business will grow and expand faster with help from the SBA than without.”

Company Name: 
Bellden Cafe
Location: 
Bellevue, WA