Spice Monkey

Oakland, CA

When Kanitha Matoury started Spice Monkey, a restaurant and bar in Oakland, she followed her passion for food and her desire to have a bigger impact in her community. Since it opened doors in 2008, Spice Monkey has grown to be a truly community-focused business, living their mission by operating in an ethical and sustainable way while becoming more lucrative to support professional growth for their employees and more products for their customers. Spice Monkey brings mouth-watering, globally inspired cuisine together with a warm-hearted service staff. “Seeing the joy when someone relaxes around a table with the people they love is the real benefit I get from my business,” says Kanitha.

In 2015, Kanitha began working on a new project next door, Howden Market. The market-deli-cafe offers produce, coffee, prepared foods, deli goods, organic groceries, and more. The doors to Howden Market opened in January 2016. Between both businesses, Kanitha now employs 40 workers.

When Kanitha was ready for a loan to help make Howden Market a reality, she came to Main Street Launch. “The loan gave me peace of mind because I had access to more cash. Since this was not my first loan, I was prepared for the process,” reflects Kanitha. “Working with Scott [Lewis, CFO] was smooth – he knows everything.”

As a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Kanitha draws on her military experience to help her business development. “The biggest thing I learned in the military is that to do things well you need focus, systems, and clearly defined roles. At Spice Monkey and Howden Market everyone on my team has their area of expertise and we trust them to do great work. Growing from five to 40 employees smoothly was only possible because of the systems we have in place.”

Kanitha offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “Some people think that your accounting system comes later as you develop your business, but I recommend establishing it early. Good accounting practices enable you to make more informed choices as you work to get your business off the ground.” She adds, “Just hang in there. Being in businesses is the toughest thing to do. You need the right tools and the right people around you. With patience and perseverance, you can do it.”