Member Business Loan Helps Couple Open Second Restaurant

It’s high noon and Balwant Bahia doesn’t have time to talk about the help his credit union gave him funding for his business.  He and his wife Maninder are the proud owners of two Subway restaurants – one in Seattle and the other in the Kingsgate neighborhood of Kirkland. 

Customers line up at both locations, to take in the delicious smells of freshly baked bread and to order Subway’s signature sandwiches.  It’s a full time job and a dream come true for Balwant, who is hands on in both stores.  The Bahia’s became interested in franchising Subway restaurants after seeing other family members succeed.

“We saw the proven results,” said Maninder. “It was a type of business that did not require a huge investment compared to other franchises.” 

The couple’s first restaurant did well, so they turned to Harborstone Credit Union for help opening their second location.

“It was difficult at first, meeting the Small Business Administration (SBA)guidelines,” Maninder noted. “The credit union helped find our strengths to make this happen.”

“You have to really know the SBA rules,” said Harborstone Senior Vice President John Renforth. “It takes a lending staff who knows the SBA in’s and out’s, and understands the documentation they require.”

Renforth said Harborstone made a commitment in the early 2000’s to make local small business lending part of Harborstone’s core competency. What followed was an extensive investment in training, technology and certifications.  The credit union now has a very established program which is credited with many small business success stories such as the Bahia’s restaurant.

“It allows us to look at local small businesses as partners,” Renforth said.  “We seek opportunities like this to help businesses become long term players.  And they want a local lending partner who can make decisions locally.”

For the Bahia’s opening Subway restaurants finally gave Balwant the opportunity to work for himself.  Maninder, who is full time at Boeing, working on a masters and the mother of an 8 year old and a six year old, still finds time to help with the accounting.

Maninder’s advice to others with small business dreams? Give it a go.

“I’d say unless you try, you’re never going to know.  It’s not easy, but not really hard, either.”


Editor’s note:  Pending legislation would allow credit unions to make more Member Business Loans. S. 2231 remains on the Senate calendar, meaning it could be called for a vote at any time. Northwest credit unions’ grassroots efforts have resulted in more than 7,000 support calls to Senators. Additional resources can be found on our website.


Questions or Concerns? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor:

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