Karl began his foray into the restaurant world at age 15, when he began an apprenticeship with a five-star chef. He has worked in a country club and eventually established a catering and home delivery service in the small, rural town of Pickford in Michigan, and has added restauranteur to his list of accomplishments.
In early 2000, Karl, along with his wife, Paula, came up with the idea to start a catering and delivery business. The company would provide working parents and families with children involved in afterschool activities with dinner options. Northern Initiatives, an SBA microlender headquartered in Marquette, assisted the couple with their dream to start their catering business by providing them with a $2,500 microloan in June of 2003.
Later in 2003, Northern Initiatives provided Karl and his wife with a second loan of $6,500 to expand and open a restaurant. In 2004, the couple opened their restaurant, Karl’s Cuisine in Sault Ste. Marie. Karl and Paula, who still lives in Pickford—a 34-mile drive from their restaurant—also maintain a hobby farm, where they grow produce for their restaurant business. Karl’s Cuisine not only serves food using his own produce, but strives to use other locally sourced ingredients too, helping support their community and area farmers.
Because Karl’s Cuisine is located in a rural area with seasonal ebbs and flows, there is often difficulty in obtaining working capital from traditional financial sources for improvements. Northern Initiative has continued to work with the owners of Karl’s Cuisine, providing them with further capital for improvements, including microloans of $5,000 in 2004 and 2005, and a loan of $30,000 in 2015, totaling $49,000 since Karl’s Cuisine first began in 2003. These microloans were essential to the business, allowing them to increase sales and profits, as well as expand the menu and hours of operation. In addition to the microloans, Northern Initiative provided assistance with QuickBooks training, financial coaching, and marketing assistance. The couple’s daughter, who manages the business’ online presence was also provided with technical assistance on website development.
In 2015, Northern Initiatives provided the family with a sixth loan of $10,000 to support Karl and Paula’s daughter’s venture, Wildwood Vineyard. The family’s business now includes a restaurant, winery and, in the summer of 2016, they are adding a brewery to that list. Karl’s Cuisine, through the capital and technical assistance afforded by the SBA microloan program, is thriving and the business has been able to retain six full-time positions, as well as create an additional five full-time jobs.
Despite barriers small rural businesses in seasonal areas often face, Karl and Paula have been able to grow their business, create new jobs, and thrive financially.
Visit Karl’s Cuisine