On a corner property in North Philadelphia you’ll find a small, unassuming business named Cibao Fried Chicken, in an area surrounded by other small businesses and residences. Being part of a large city, the area is fairly quiet and appealing.
Inside, it’s a lot less quiet. Owners Nelson Peralta, Sr., and his wife are working in a hot kitchen, cranking out the fried chicken and other Dominican specialties that the neighbors have found to be local favorites.
A family business since 2008, Cibao is now being managed with the help of Nelson Peralta, Jr. “I took over after I graduated from Thomas Jefferson University with my bachelor’s degree in construction management,” the younger Nelson said.
The restaurant business is in the Peralta gene pool. Nelson, Sr., came to Philadelphia after working in the food service industry in New York City for 14 years. He moved to Philadelphia for the lifestyle change, joining extended family, that included a cousin who then worked in real estate.
The Peralta’s cousin helped find the Frankford Avenue property, which was the site of a prior restaurant that closed. It was perfect, already set up to accommodate their needs, from electric service and ventilation to the overall design.
In 2020, the property that housed Cibao since 2008, went on the market and fortunately for the Peraltas, there were no offers. The family inquired with the property owner about the building and agreed to a sale’s price.
All they needed now, was the money. They got in touch with a financial advisor, Jimmy Duran, who worked at Impact Loan Fund, a nearby community development financial institution. Jimmy suggested True Access Capital who he had worked with in the past and sometimes referred some of the larger commercial real estate deals that exceeded Impact Loan Fund’s lending limits.
“The buying process was fairly easy,” Nelson, Jr., said. “My parents only speak Spanish, and they did all the work with senior community lending officer, Lorenzo Merino who is fluent in the language.” Nelson said the process was very smooth, completing the required documentation, mostly through phone calls and emails, as well as through in-person meetings when required. Their real estate closing was in March, 2020 – a time that will forever live in our minds as the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were only open for a few weeks when we had to shut down,” said Nelson. Fortunately, as food service businesses were deemed essential, they were permitted to reopen on a takeout-only basis. “That was enough to sustain us through the pandemic.”
Now Cibao is busy, still mostly with take-out orders and a few tables but they’re looking to the future. “I plan to take True Access Capital’s Recipe for Success training course to find out ways to run the business even better. And we plan to redesign the restaurant for more effective use of the space. We’ll always stay in North Philadelphia, but I think we’ll be opening other locations in the future,” Nelson said.
“We love this area, and we’re really a part of the community. We donate to churches, schools, the fire departments and we participate in community events. Our business is important to the community, and the community is important to us.”