MLK Program helps Rancho Alegre open a downtown location

How did the small yellow house on Posey Street transform and expand to become Rancho Alegre, the downtown ‘hot spot’ for Latin American cuisine? Melody & Juan Rodriguez believe it is their determination, experience, a strong team of people and the right financing program.

After looking for years downtown, they seized the opportunity brought by the economic downturn to find a lower cost space, that with a little polish and Latin American flair, would fulfill the missing culinary niche for downtown diners. “We have surrounded ourselves with great people. Everyone contributes their strengths; from finances/contracts to menu items or the basic repair & maintenance needed on the older structures downtown,” stated Melody. “It was a well-thought out, planned decision. We just needed the financing to make it happen.”

Their personal banker, Michelle Michaels at SunTrust bank recommended they visit the Small Business Assistance Corporation to look at the MLK Special Purpose Program* for businesses on MLK & Montgomery Streets. This loan program, through the City of Savannah, assists with the expansion and development of small business enterprises for this transitioning area of downtown Savannah. Debra Simmons, Community Development Officer with the SBAC, remembers meeting with Mr. & Mrs. Rodriguez, “It was a perfect fit for Rancho Alegre. This loan program is so flexible in its use. From land, building or equipment acquisition to the furniture and fixtures or working capital, it gives a business like Rancho Alegre the flexibility to achieve everyone’s goals.”

When asked her top tips for businesses moving or starting up downtown, Rancho Alegre owner, Melody Rodriguez recommends: do a business plan, surround yourself with a team of experts, check the commercial zoning where you want to do business and most of all “come out to MLK. It is becoming a marvelous new place for all small businesses.”