Bo's Barbeque Finds Success With SCORE
"I wanted to have a place that was a cut above what many people have come to expect from barbecue. I also wanted to keep people healthy by offering range-fed meat and good healthy side dishes. My mother also taught me that a clean impression goes a long way. So, I wanted a restaurant in an upscale location, and so clean that people could eat off the floor" says Bo McSwine, owner of Bo's Barbeque.
Bo knew that he would need some help getting his dream restaurant off the ground. The restaurant business is generally considered risky, and many banks are reluctant to invest in such ventures. But Bo was not about to be deterred. In mid-1998, he contacted the Small Business Administration, which led to a visit to the Oakland office of SCORE. There, Bo met SCORE volunteer mentor Ugo Nardi, a former commercial banker with experience in the restaurant business, and it’s been “good eatin’” ever since.
In September 1999, Bo's Barbecue opened to rave reviews, and has since been featured numerous times in newspapers and magazines. Eighty percent of his business comes from diners and take-out sales, with catering to businesses and parties making up the balance. Customers come from miles away to feast on Bo's specially prepared food, including regulars such as Ugo Nardi. "Ugo comes in here all the time," Bo says. "He's become a friend as well as a mentor.”
Each Thanksgiving, Bo offers turkey dinners to all comers. People in Lafayette can afford to pay, but he sees the gesture as a way to thank the community that has helped his business grow and prosper.
"Just having Ugo there to help me was a big plus," Bo says. "He knew all the current issues and challenges in the business world, and helped me consider various issues that might arise long before we opened. He is helping me make future plans for my business, such as branching out with some new locations. I know he'll be at my side, no matter what we do."
After Bo contacted SCORE his mentor Ugo assisted him with the development of his business plan, pricing and marketing strategies, cash flow projections, and overall financing. One of the most critical issues for a restaurant was location. Ugo spent many hours with Bo evaluating potential locations around Lafayette. He and Bo also used the time to discuss refinements to the business plan, equipment and labor issues, and necessary leasehold improvements. An ideal restaurant location became available on Lafayette's main street, Mt. Diablo Boulevard. Thanks to his extensive preparation with Ugo, Bo was ready to jump in and get started. .