We recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Mr. Ahmad “Smiley” Chehab.
Located in the ‘Yunk, Smiley’s Café is known for serving Mediterranean cuisine on a student budget. Located just off Main Street, Smiley’s Café is often considered the best-kept secret in Manayunk. According to Smiley, the café is famous for down to earth, friendly service. “We make everything very fresh and serve high quality, healthy food.” Offering a combination of a juice bar, smoothies, and fresh pita sandwiches and salads, Smiley’s Café has become a local institution in this Philadelphia neighborhood. Smiley adds that he and his staff “…go out of our way to say thank you in 39 languages.”
During our recent chat with Smiley, we discussed his approach to operating a local business. “It is important for me to go out of my way to treat everybody first-class. Customers become like family to the operation.” He adds, “Most of our customers come at least 4 or 5 days a week.”
When asked why he decided to apply for funding, Smiley responds, “All businesses, whether small or big, always need backup funding, some cushion. Every bit helps until you get stronger and stronger. Unfortunately, some companies start with a bigger amount of money because they have backup funding whether they sold another company or they have family money.For me, I am building my foundation and backup money is important to keep going and to give me peace of mind.”
Like many business owners, Smiley found that banks were not the right solution to his financing needs. “Banks, of course, they are more complicated. For me, I always had, what you call, an easier time dealing with private investors. It’s faster. Banks take much longer and need so many more different things. You have to have the perfect credit. These days some people might have a successful business, but their credit is hurt because of divorce or other things. That is what I am working on myself, building back my credit after 25 years of marriage. I try to work hard and give it my all.”
His experience with 48 Factoring was much different. Smiley says he started the process by going to the office and meeting everyone. “Very friendly. The service was quick and fast,” he says of his experience working with 48 Factoring.
Smiley goes on to add, “Speed is important when somebody applies for funding, if you get it fast, that makes a difference, instead of waiting. It’s like me when I make a sandwich for somebody in two minutes, when they only have a 30-minute lunch, rather than have them wait 10 or 15 minutes to get a sandwich, they might not come back to me again.”
Smiley says he put the capital he received toward the location. It helped to pay inventory and ensure that bills are paid on a timely basis.
“It’s nice that I have extra money in the bank and I can feel more confident,” says Smiley.