If you live in the Silicon Valley area (or frequent there often), chances are you know Hobee’s California Restaurants, and chances are you love it (and their amazing coffee cake). And if you don’t know Hobee’s, and live in the Silicon Valley area, it is imperative you visit one of their six locations. We promise—you won’t regret it.
What makes Hobee’s so special?
A family-run, family-owned restaurant, Hobee’s was started by Paul and Mary Taber in 1974. The restaurant has since been passed on to the Taber’s children, who are all active in the business. The business is now primarily run by Edward Fike, Paul and Mary’s son-in-law. It truly is a family affair.
A veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart during the Korean War, Paul Taber started his post-Navy career in the hospitality industry, owning or partially owning restaurants all around Hawaii. After a storied career, Taber moved back to the mainland from Hawaii, where he was tasked with helping a large food company open restaurants. But he quickly became disillusioned by corporate food service, thanks to the cost-cutting mandates from the higher ups that led to poor customer service and poor quality food. He knew he needed to strike out on his own again. With inspiration to give customers more than these corporate chains could, the first Hobee’s was opened in Mountain View, CA. Within months, people started flocking to the restaurant, attracted to the healthy yet tasty items on the menu, along with the rockstar customer service.
According to Hobee’s website, “Paul made it a point to learn every customer’s name and order. He maintained that one of the driving forces behind his decision to open Hobee’s was the simple desire to make friends.”
And although Taber passed in 1998, his legacy still lives on in the customer service and top-quality food Hobee’s is known for today.
Taber’s children, Peter and Connie, and son-in-law, Ed Fike, see to this. Fike is responsible for the day-to-day operations of Hobee’s, and makes sure that Taber’s priorities are always met. Running Hobee’s is a role that naturally fits Fike, as he loves having his hands in multiple pots. “I get to do PR, write, social media, and more. All things I love. If I was at a bigger company, I couldn’t do that,” says Fike.
But, along with the joys of running a business, Fike also has to face the challenges. “We closed 3 restaurants in 2013. One just wasn’t making it for us. The other 2 were very successful, they were just victims of their success. Rent doubled. When it was time renew the lease, we couldn’t afford to stay.”
This is something that happens to many small businesses. The market changes, so landlords up rents to match the market. Unfortunately, with Hobee’s price point average at around $11.00 a ticket, those increased rents didn’t make sense. They get a ton of traffic, but can’t afford to pay what a dinner house serving alcohol can pay.
Having to effectively close three locations while keeping the other six up and running swimmingly led Fike down another familiar route for business owners: a working capital search. Fike did his best to juggle his loan search while successfully running his business. He was diligent about examining multiple options before making a decision, despite the time it took. Unfortunately, many of the places he looked provided no affordable options.
Seeing an ad for Fundera on Facebook, Fike thought he’d at least give Fundera a try. After quickly completing Fundera’s questionnaire, Fike was shocked that within minutes he got a call from Fundera’s Customer Success Director, Demetri Yannopoulos. He was immediately attracted to the “no pressure atmosphere” created. Qualifying for multiple options, Yannopoulos walked Fike through every option, explaining the intricate details of the products. Fike was impressed with how easy Yannopoulos made the whole process, and with his help, Fike was able to secure a loan product that offered a rate incredibly lower than anything else he had seen.
“It was amazing how quickly we started and concluded. It took me only two weeks to find and get funding,” says Fike.
Fike experienced firsthand what Fundera is all about: helping business owners truly understand their loan options, while working tirelessly to find them the lowest possible rate. By finding Fundera, Fike was able to keep focus on his business, while Fundera focused on the loan search.
Since applying the funds to his business, Fike says they’re “enjoying the lean and mean version of Hobee’s. We can do more and focus on projects we previously pushed aside.” With 5 people in their corporate office, overseeing 130 employees (it was 235 before), Fike exclaims, “Everything feels easier. Administering, attending to the needs of the customers, and more. It’s about being the best Hobee’s we can be. The closing of the stores ended up being a great thing. Last year was all about closing restaurants, now that we’re a year removed, we’re celebrating 40 years in business, and it’s great. This funding is helping us get to the other end we knew was there.”
Although Hobee’s hit a rough patch, they’re able to look back and see that was a blessing disguised as an obstacle. Being able to focus more easily on the things that make Hobee’s, Hobee’s, Fike and his team are having a phenomenal year.
Paul Taber made customer service the most important priority for his Hobee’s locations. It’s incredible to see that his family is continuing to ensure that legacy lives on, doing everything they can to always put Hobee’s customers first.
In Fall of 2014, I made a trip out to meet Ed Fike and experience Hobee’s firsthand. The entire experience was extraordinary. Ed and his family are very special people, achieving very special goals. Getting to meet him face to face and learn more about his story was humbling. Ed is a great reminder of why we do what we do here at Fundera. He is running a stellar organization that is the heartbeat of its local community. Hobee’s serves as a fantastic example of the small businesses that are the backbone of our country, and helping these businesses survive and thrive is why we started Fundera.
We feel lucky to have worked with Ed, and can’t wait to see everything Hobee’s accomplishes in the future.
Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera.
Meredith launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014. She has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending and financial management.