Order’s up! Thanks to an SBA Loan, Cosmic Cowboy Grill is Back to Cooking on All Cylinders

When restaurant owner, Steve Eller, was forced to furlough most of his staff due to COVID-19, Idaho Central Credit Union swiftly stepped in with a lifeline.

Cosmic Cowboy Grill staff in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, welcome patrons for takeout and delivery service.

6/9/2020

In 2017, Steve Eller brought healthy and delicious gourmet food to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, when he opened his “fast casual” eatery, Cosmic Cowboy Grill.

Eller, a transplant from Austin, Texas, wanted to bring the modern dining trends from his home city to Coeur D’Alene. A nod to the original cosmic cowboys, like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, the restaurant blends traditional grilled meat favorites with gourmet vegetarian dishes to create a unique dining experience that has something for everyone.

“I know a lot of people in the fitness community and people who like to eat healthy — and they didn’t really have an outlet for that here,” Eller said.

With a diverse menu consisting of fresh, farm-to-table ingredients, Cosmic Cowboy Grill offers tasty and nutritious options to health and fitness enthusiasts in the Northwest.

This past February, Eller opened his second Cosmic Cowboy Grill location in Spokane, Washington — but timing was not on his side. When COVID-19 hit a month later, Eller said the restaurant’s dine-in business began dropping off significantly in both locations.

“We saw a pretty dramatic drop in customers, so we were already reeling from it. When your revenue stops, the only way to turn off your labor is to furlough people.”

That’s the last thing Eller ever wanted to do.

Owner Steve Eller (left) and staff deliver lunch to the Spokane Veterans Home.

“It’s been a three-year marathon to build the really good team that we have,” he said. “To furlough those folks was … well, first, we value them as individuals, so it was personally distressing. And from the business side — we finally got a team that was really cooking on all cylinders, and we had to send them home.”

When the Small Business Administration launched the Paycheck Protection Program at the end of March, Eller went straight to Idaho Central Credit Union, where he’s been a business client for two years, to apply for the loan. In a matter of days, it was approved.

“It was really fast,” Eller said. “I applied on a Friday and had the approval the following week.”

The loan was a lifeline for Eller, allowing him to bring back most of his valued staff. As both Idaho and Washington began lifting “stay-at-home orders,” Eller said he was grateful to be reopening at all after two months of takeout-only service.

“I’m incredibly grateful for the PPP. I was personally committed to getting everyone back to work and off of unemployment, and the loan helped us do that. I’m happy to say that during the eight weeks of our PPP, our business in Coeur D’Alene came back to close to where it should be this time of year.”
— Steve Eller, Owner of Cosmic Cowboy Grill

Eller has a history of working with credit unions, having been a member at University Federal Credit Union in Austin since 1986.

“I’ve been a credit union guy my whole life,” he said. “ICCU is very modern and easy to work with.”

To date, ICCU has given over 3,650 PPP loans, totaling $165,000,000 and keeping over 24,000 Idahoans employed.

“At Idaho Central Credit Union, our mission is to help our members achieve financial success, and we are so happy that we were able to help the Cosmic Cowboy Grill with the PPP program,” said Kent Oram, President and CEO. “We have an amazing team working behind the scenes to make this program a reality. We love our members and look forward to serving them for many years to come!”

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