El Patron Supermarket of Polk County
El Patron Supermarket was started 10 years ago as a little bakery in Bartow. After six years, a supermarket was added to make it what it is today, specializing in authentic Mexican food and specialty cakes. Owner Jorge Jimenez Morales decided to seek assistance in the form of a State of Florida Emergency Bridge Loan, after Hurricane Irma hit the area in late 2017. To do this, he sought the assistance of the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida.
When asked about his experience with the storm and the assistance received, he recalled:
What type of damage occurred?
When the hurricane came to us the damage was electrical and we have a lot of situations where the meat coolers, and the walk-in coolers [stopped working] and some damage to the roofs. We paid the money for the repairs but we took the money from payroll. We closed the business for around five days, so no sales.
How will the Bridge Loan help?
This money is going to balance things out again. We have 16 employees. Our business is seasonal and we are close to starting the high season and we need to pay our vendors.
How was the Florida SBDC at USF helpful during this process?
I worked with Carl and Selma. I really appreciate the fact that your staff called us back and kept us informed. Also, how easy it was to process the loan and the fast turnaround. It was wonderful to deal with nice people, everyone including Pat the receptionist, who was so kind even when my English was not easy to understand.