After many years of trying to lease vacant space in downtown Oakland, Seth and Jenni Bregman found themselves in a unique position of placing an offer on a popular restaurant for sale within walking distance of their home near Lake Merritt. With a lot of luck, perseverance, and generous counsel from their social network, they became the proud owners of Michel Bistro in May 2017.
Located on Lakeshore at Trestle Glen in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood, Michel Bistro serves French cuisine with a California flair. The restaurant has received Michelin Bib Gourmand honors four years in a row, and Michel is well regarded by the local community and loved by customers for its high quality dinner and brunch at affordable prices.
“It was important to us to respect the legacy of Michel as well as the community and customers who have been staunch supporters for many years. We live in the same neighborhood as our customers, and it’s important to us that we continue the quality of the Michel experience for both local and new guests,” says Seth. By partnering with existing chefs, Anthony Salguero and Brian Starkey, and keeping much of the existing team on board through the transition has helped create a sense of continuity. “Now that we have been at it for the last six months and have a great team in place, we are excited about the future. We’ll be rolling out some new menu items and craft cocktails in 2018,” Seth explains.
Support from their network was crucial in closing the deal for Seth and Jenni. “Closing this deal without Main Street Launch would have been very difficult,” Seth remarks. “For many reasons, our escrow took much longer than expected and took some unpredictable and potentially deal-ending turns. Adrian Gomez Zavala, AVP – Relationship Manager at Main Street Launch, was with us in the trenches every step of the way. Whether it was helping us with forecasting or obtaining local and county permits or navigating the requirements and paperwork of obtaining our SBA loan, he was invaluable in helping us land the financing we needed to complete and close escrow.”
Seth and Jenni used proceeds from the loan to help with the purchase of the restaurant, as well as other costs like inventory, their lease deposit, and establishing a reserve fund.
When asked what he would offer to aspiring entrepreneurs, Seth suggested the following: “There is a lot of professional help out there. Seek out and take advantage of the opportunities and expertise available for those wanting to be in business for themselves. There is low or no-cost help available. You don’t have to be an expert in everything business-related, but become an expert in knocking on the doors of those who are. They will help you fill in the gaps of starting or growing your business so you can go forward with allies and develop relationships with people committed to your success.”
In addition to Main Street Launch, Seth and Jenni received support from the Alameda County Small Business Development Center and Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center of San Francisco. All of these organizations were instrumental in providing ongoing support as they took their idea and made it a reality.
Michel Bistro is a perfect destination for people who want to enjoy French food in a friendly, neighborhood setting without breaking the bank. They have a weekday happy-hour from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM and ‘Beats & Brunch’ every Sunday where DJ Yens (co-owner, Jenni Bregman) spins classic and new tunes.
Make your reservation at Michel Bistro today!