Larry Lagattuta calls Pittsburgh’s Strip District “a magical jewel box of little food-based businesses.” Enrico Biscotti, though, was doing so much retail and wholesale business that its 1,100-square-foot storefront/bakery had become “a madhouse,” he says. He bought a nearby building to house the wholesale side. The missing ingredient was equipment. “Although you could buy a building with a mortgage,” Larry says, “you could not buy thousands and thousands of dollars of equipment on spec.”
“I was on a bus tour in Italy, and somebody in our group was talking about The Progress Fund,” says Larry. “I said, ‘The Progress Fund? What is that?’” Back at home, he applied for an equipment loan. The Progress Fund loaned $70,000.
Larry bought a new oven and a truck to deliver biscotti, macaroons and other delicacies to stores. His storefront staff still bakes there for the retail customers, but no longer competes for oven space with the growing wholesale business. “Customers are coming in, enjoying the smells, the sights and the tastes, buying what they need to buy and getting on their way,” says Larry. “A traditional Strip business is able to stay in the Strip without having to grow into the suburbs.”
This project was financed in part using Pennsylvania Small Business Credit Initiative (PSBCI) funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.
The Progress Fund is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
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