For five years, Jay and Roza Hamzeheinejad ran Bella Cucina, a Canyon Country Italian
restaurant whose customers frequently wanted to hold large parties. Realizing they needed
banquet space to accommodate those customers, they sought to buy an existing restaurant
with 8,000 square feet which was four times the size of their first place.
In the first Bella Cucina, the couple just jumped in and ran it without a business plan, using
their own money and improvising. But when they sought a $2 million loan for a second
location, the bank demanded they provide not only a business plan but also a complete and
thorough knowledge of that plan. The bank referred them to the Small Business Development
Center hosted by College of the Canyons and Senior Business Advisor Gil Murphy.
“They had paid a business consultant to create a plan for them, and it had a lot of templates
thrown in. The bank said it was too generic,” Murphy said. “When I work with clients, they get to
know their plan forward and backward. They understand it’s for them and not just the bank.”
Jay had been an engineer in Iran, and Roza had worked as an Italian translator after years of
study in Italy. They came to the United States in 2002 to provide their two teenage children
with a good education and soon went into the restaurant business, drawing upon Roza’s
familiarity with Italian cuisine.
They soon became familiar with business planning under Murphy’s tutelage, obtaining missing
information, reworking unrealistic profit and loss statements and taking ownership for
their plan and how their business would perform.
“Before, when I did a plan, I didn’t really think about all the details,” Roza said. “The SBDC
helps you do that for yourself. It gave us a structure and helped us to see where we were
going and where we’re standing right now.”
When the bank asked to see a year’s operation before final loan approval, the Hamzeheinejads
were confident enough to use their own money to lease the location, opening in September
2008 with a 30-member staff. They also weathered a road widening project that blocked
easy access to their new restaurant and three others. With SBDC’s help, the restaurants got a
temporary road, lights and signage.
“The SBDC was a very big help,” Roza said. “With the business plan, we have the projections
and know what to expect in our first and second year. We’re not that far off, even with the