State of the state: Finance

It was a good idea from good business-people, but it came in a bad economy. James and Tina Pachorek were well on their way to opening the second location of their Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Café. Then the money that had been promised was no longer there.

“We were already knee-deep – actually chest-deep – in this project last fall,” says James Pachorek. “Then we’re getting information back from some of our original lenders saying, ‘Sorry, our bank is going under. You’re a goner.’”


Tina and James Pachorek of the Cheeky Monk Belgian Beer Café

Enter the Colorado Enterprise Fund, a nonprofit community development fund that offers business loans to entrepreneurs in need. Since 1976, the fund has provided $14 million in loans, as well as counseling aimed at ensuring loan repayment.

“In this economy, the traditional banks are passing up a lot of good deals,” says Alan Ramirez, the fund’s commercial loan officer who worked with the Pachoreks.

The Pachoreks first had to demonstrate a healthy track record in business to the fund. That wasn’t a problem: Denver’s Cheeky Monk on East Colfax is a key piece of Capitol Hill’s ongoing revitalization, having established a cozy destination for beer lovers seeking out unusual brands rarely found around here. Dozens of beers, most from Belgium, fill the lengthy drink menu. The restaurant-bar was an immediate hit after opening in 2007.

Before the Cheeky Monk came along, the couple in 2002 launched Aurora’s Royal Hilltop, a suburban oasis serving pub fare, a wide variety of European beers on tap and two-dozen single-malt scotches.

Ramirez also had to study the Pachoreks’ books and business environment to assess risk.

That included a site visit and a study of the proposed location, in this case Winter Park Village, and time spent with the owners.

“My wife and I are very integral on a daily basis in the operation of all our places,” says Pachorek, a self-professed beer geek. “(CEF) took into account that we weren’t just opening a place and letting it do its thing.“

The Pachoreks got the money needed to complete the project; James won’t specify the amount, but calls it “a pretty good chunk of change.”

The Cheeky Monk’s Winter Park location opened in February, creating 22 new jobs in the resort town. The wait could have been much longer without the help of the Colorado Enterprise Fund.

“We’re taking calculated risks on how we’re going about our lending, but it’s absolutely clear to us that businesses like this are trying to create employment and revenue for their communities,” Ramirez says.

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