SBA-backed Loans Help Patisserie Share Their Sweet Creations

Diane Anderson and Chef Vincent Garcia pose in their commercial production kitchen. She is standing slightly behind him with her left hand on his shoulder.

Opera Patisserie President Diane Anderson started her career as a costume designer working in theatre, television, and films. As a fluent French speaker, she stayed in touch with the French community in Los Angeles and eventually married a French chef. After 10 years of costuming and many years as an expat, she landed in San Diego where her husband was executive chef at Paradise Point—and where she met Vincent Garcia. 

In 2002, the chefs decided to start a wholesale dessert business, Opera Patisserie. Diane located the original kitchen and became the bookkeeper. Diane was asked to become CEO in 2008 after spearheading the acquisition of Opera's new facility. She also designed the first and current decor for Opera's cafe in Sorrento Valley, obtained grants and managed Opera's finances. 

Vincent Garcia's talents had led him to work in Europe, South America and eventually San Diego. He creates fine desserts at Opera Patisserie that withstand the demands of hotels and restaurants while providing the finest quality and consistency. As COO he has led a team of up to 90 employees. An accomplished photographer, Vincent is also responsible for the beautiful photos and catalogs of his creations.

Opera suffered some set backs after the 2008 market crash, but with strategic temporary staff cutbacks, good relationships, and communication with their vendors, they got back on their feet and recalled the majority of the employees who they had let go.

In 2011 when the management changed, a unsettling tension began between the operational shareholders and the non-operational shareholders. Opera was actually growing at a greater pace than at any other time in its history, but the demands of the non­operational shareholders made it difficult and led to unnecessary legal expenses.

In 2015 Diane was diagnosed and treated for stage 2 colon cancer, but with her partnership with Vincent and support of the entire team, Opera stayed on track as she continued to work remotely through her recovery.

It became evident, through mounting discord between the two groups of shareholders, that the time had come to separate.    

Chase and the SBA loan guaranty programs, helped them achieve this goal. In December of 2018, Opera received the following funding through Chase backed by the SBA:

  • Shareholder buyout loan — $2,214,500.00 to buy out non-operational shareholders who were impeding Opera's ability for growth.
  • Refinance of manufacturing building — $1,818,900.00 to pay off the original purchase mortgage and buy out the members of the LLC (Patisserie Shareholders)
  • Line of credit — $350,000.00 

Freed from the burdensome demands of the shareholders, Diane and Vincent are able to focus on growing Opera Patisserie. Sales in 2018 were their highest and they closed 2019 on a high note. In addition, they recently acquired additional storage space both for materials and finished products so that they may continue to support growth in their wholesale and distributor sales.

Opera Patisserie creates fine trench inspired desserts that are flash frozen to preserve their quality and provide cost effective ease of use for their customers. Opera distributes throughout the Southern California area from San Diego to Los Angeles. In addition their products are sold throughout the country by distributors in Boston, New York, Seattle, Miami, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and San Francisco. Opera pastries are also offered in casinos and fine grocery stores such as Whole Foods. 

"Opera's products allow for the expertise of highly trained pastry chefs at an affordable expense. Without having a staff dedicated only to pastry, the chefs can plate and serve desserts as if they do."

This article does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the SBA of any opinions, products, or services of any private individual or entity.