When I couldn’t get a loan, a friend of mine who is in the real estate business told me about The Progress Fund. A lot of the loans that they gave out were in the restaurant business. I put a business plan together, and then got it back to them, and it really wasn’t very difficult with The Progress Fund.
The building burned – twice. Later, the century-old Phoenix Restaurant’s reputation faded, its specialties fell out of fashion and it closed, as had many Altoona restaurants. “My folks used to take me there when I was a kid,” remembers Tony Russo, a pipe company owner. “They knew they could go there and get a home-cooked meal and homemade desert.” If only there was a way to fuse the best of the past with a modern sensibility.
It would take money. “I spoke with my bank and they didn’t want to have anything to do with it,” Tony says. Then he called The Progress Fund. “It was just like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s what we do,’” he says. The Progress Fund loaned $176,000.
The Phoenix Restaurant’s rebirth took unexpected turns. Tony uncovered a huge window, for instance, that not only brightened the interior, but matched the new bar he’d built out of salvaged glass block. He and his chefs kept old favorites, like baked haddock and chicken pot pie. They added meals featuring Pennsylvania pork and their own garden vegetables and herbs grown on-site. It’s classic, it’s trending, and it’s attracting diners with a timeless proposition. “We want you to come because you want a good meal – something you won’t get at home,” says Tony, “but it’s not going to ruin your bank account.”The Progress Fund is an equal opportunity provider and employer.