The SBA has approved our loan package (it's an SBA backed loan, which means that the bank makes the actual loan but the Small Business Administration guarantees it to the bank, kind of like a co-signer)! Though we had been somewhat assured that if our bank had approved it, the SBA probably would to, after our experiences so far, we have learned to be pretty cautious (or as we've come to say, 'cautiously optimistic'). There's still a bunch of forms to put together and sign, and we can't close until we have the actual signed lease, but this is a huge relief and a great step forward. I start working on all the bank requirements, like getting business insurance and documenting all of what we've spent so far.
While we're still waiting on getting the actual lease to sign, we work on the revising and solidifying our budget estimates. We get bids from a few architects. We visit flooring showrooms. We refine the design. We start talking to the health department.
We've lined up a real estate lawyer to review the lease for us, but we still haven't received it. We're starting to get a little antsy (is there a problem?), but the news comes back that there was just a mix-up and we'll get it soon.
Meanwhile, we get some disappointing news that a partnership we've been working on and that we've been really excited about has fallen apart on the other end, reminding us that even companies with good reputations can sometimes let you down. Deals are definitely not done until they're done.
At the beginning of October we finally get the lease and despite it's length, we have only what we see as a few minor concerns with it (with some things that seem inconsistent to us). We work on it with our lawyer, who communicates our desired changes and we wait for the response.
We continue working on finalizing the design. I also head downtown once a week for three one-day classes to be certified as a Food Service Sanitation Manager (ServSafe). We figure getting this out of the way now is probably easier than while were racing to complete the build-out and getting ready to open.
Then, without warning, at the very end of October, we receive a curt message through the lawyers... the offer to rent us the location is withdrawn. We've lost our location.
We don't know why, and can't get any answers. Everyone tells us to forget about it, 'let it go'. They try to cheer us up by reminding us that it's probably for the best. Maybe. But it sure doesn't feel like it right now.
Next up, starting over...