Friday, September 30, 2016

Kitchen Lingo: Inspired by Guam’s Land and Sea

By: Nicole Tesiro
Network Program Associate
(Pacific Islands SBDC Network)

The exterior of Kitchen Lingo during dinner. 
  (Photo taken from
Chef Lingo Quichocho was raised in the village of Santa Rita. He grew up learning to cook from family and friends in the back kitchens of Southern Guam.  After high school, Lingo received his certification in Culinary Arts from National Culinary and Baking School in San Diego, California. He relocated back to Guam in 2013 after working in kitchens from Massachusetts to San Diego anxious to share his passion with the people of Guam.

With the assistance of the Guam SBDC, Denise Mendiola – Senior Business Advisor and Women in Business Program Coordinator guided Chef Lingo through the start-up process. He stated that the SBDC helped layout the groundwork for his business. Denise was very knowledgeable, resourceful, and generous with information that allowed Kitchen Lingo to be competitive in the restaurant industry. 

Kitchen Lingo is owned and operated by Chef Lingo Quichocho along with Lenny and Pika Fejeran, owners of Pika’s Café. They opened Kitchen Lingo on May 1, 2015 in the heart of Downtown Hagatna. Their mission is “To practice uncompromising commitment to quality, sourcing the best local ingredients possible, serving innovative, chef-driven and value-focused craft food and drinks in a chic, intimate atmosphere driven by our island hospitality.”

Chef Lingo finishes off plating during lunch hour. 
(Photo taken from
The menu at Kitchen Lingo takes the freshest ingredients from local vendors (Grow Guam Fresh, Farm-To-Table, and Fisherman’s Co-Op) and transforms them into unique, delicious dishes. For lunch you can find dishes such as the local fish with herb salsa, long beans, bok choy and edamame salad or the pulled duck sandwich with hoisin, cilantro pesto, and cucumber and papaya slaw. For dinner, they offer a salmon entrée with zucchini, kale, fennel, crab couscous, and soffrito. But their latest offering is the chef’s tasting. This is great if this is your first dining experience at Kitchen Lingo. Chef Lingo curates a six course prix-fixe meal giving you an opportunity to try multiple items on the menu. It is offered Monday through Wednesday for dinner only.

Kitchen Lingo is located on 153 Martyr Street Suite 101-A in the heart of Downtown Hagatna. They are open frpm Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:00am – 2:00pm and dinner from 6:00pm – 9:00pm. On Saturday, they are only open for dinner from 6:00pm – 9:00pm. For reservations, visit their website or call 671-472-5550. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Seminar on SBA Loans Draws Many Community Members

By: Orrin Pharmin
Service Director/Business Advisor

The recent business seminar entitled, “Funding Your Business through a SBA Loan” drew a number of participants who were looking for ways to start, expand, or grow their business.

The seminar was hosted by the Department of Commerce’s CNMI Small Business Development Center (SBDC) through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Guam Branch. The seminar was also held in partnership with the Northern Marianas College (NMC) with the support of the Commonwealth Development Authority (CDA), CNMI Department of Commerce, and the Let's MOVE! Marianas Alliance.

SBA Guam Branch Manger, Kenneth Lujan, is seen
 in the photo above conducting the SBA
workshop at the Northern Marianas College. 
“We were pleased with the turn out of the seminar and are glad that more and more people are taking advantage of these educational seminars that are free to the public,” said Orrin Pharmin, CNMI SBDC Director. “We will continue to work with our partners like NMC and CDA to increase the number of offerings we have for our small businesses.”

The presenter of the seminar, Kenneth Lujan, Guam SBA Branch Manager, talked about starting up or expanding businesses recovering from disasters, loan programs, and other programs to help businesses. “With CNMI’s emerging economy, there would be a need for alternative avenues of obtaining capital.  SBA’s loan programs would be a viable source that would help start-up and expanding businesses meet their financial needs.  Understanding where to find the funds and how each program works would be beneficial to the small business concern,” said Lujan.

For more information on the CNMI SBDC, please contact their office at 670-664-4081 or visit

Friday, September 16, 2016

An Interview with Sakura Car Rental Owner Evelyn Palik

Interviewed by: Julian Abraham
Business Advisor
(Kosrae SBDC)

Julian Abraham, Kosrae SBDC Business Advisor, sat down with Evelyn Palik, owner of Sakura Car Rental to discuss the start-up process of opening up her business.

Please tell us about yourself and your family. I am Evelyn Billy Palik, 44 years of age, a proud resident of Lelu. I have 6 kids, and 1 grandchild.

display of cars for rent
Why did you decide to start your own business? I am currently operating a small retail store and wanted to extend the line of business into other areas, such as SUV rental service.
What experience do you have in this type of business? I do not have too much experience, but being exposed to “retailing” with my father during the good years in business, I am confident that I could do well.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you? The Kosrae SBDC assisted me by guiding me through the paperwork and business proposal process. In addition, they positively pushed me to reach my goals.
How did you fund your business? Most of the funding came from Pacific Islands Development Bank (PIDB) with a minimal amount being put up by us.
What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process? Seeking financial assistance and compiling a workable business plan were the challenges I faced in the start-up process.
What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process? My most memorable triumph would be the approved financial assistance.
What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business? Short term plan: link up with partners and advertise. Long term plan: the business to be able to sustain itself by the end of the financial assistance period.
What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time? Starting a business could be challenging but help is just a phone call away, call the SBDC staff.

For more information on how the Kosrae SBDC can assist you, contact the main office at 691-370-2751 or visit our website at

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Creative Indeed Open in Hagatna

Michelle Pier is an artist and entrepreneur, born and raised on Guam and inspired by the simple beauty and complex history of her island home. She has Chamorro blood running through her veins, though her family is of a mixed background. Michelle resonates with the strong women in her family. One of those women was Agueda Johnston, her great-grandmother, who was known for her roles in building up education on Guam before and after WWII, as well as her efforts during WWII. She was beaten for being suspected by the Japanese of helping to hide the last American radioman to keep contact with the U.S. Her husband died in a concentration camp in Japan and she was left to raise their seven children on her own. Michelle admires her great-grandmother's endurance and strength, and made her own commitment to herself to live a full life of joy and purpose.

Michelle taught herself to draw and create things at a very young age and has always had a strong creative spark. She paints with thick flowing textures, layers of metallic and colorful scenery, sometimes abstract and always full of energy. She has taken some art classes at the University of Guam, as well as the City College of San Francisco, but mostly she loves to learn by experimenting. Michelle started painting consistently after she became a single mother of two and needed to create as a way to turn around a dark time in her life. She started a business in 2009 creating and selling art, and holding classes as well as large community events. She has since exhibited and sold hundreds of original acrylic paintings and prints locally and abroad. She has contributed art toward many local events and organizations. In 2015, the SBA awarded her the Home-based Business Champion of the year. She encourages people to follow their passions and live life to its full potential. Michelle hopes to continue sharing Guam's unique story with the world through art.

When asked how the Guam SBDC and other resources helped her in starting her business, Michelle stated, “When I was first getting started in my business, I was overwhelmed with the process and couldn't see a clear path ahead. Someone referred me to the free services offered by the Small Business Development Center, and I was immediately relieved that it even existed. At that stage in my business, I had no capital, and was in no financial position to be investing in business mentorship. I was assigned to Denise Mendiola, and met with her periodically to strategize what steps to take next in my business. She helped me to create a business plan step by step, and made the daunting task seem doable. She helped me to consider all options and resources available to me, whether I wanted to apply for a loan or seek other funding sources. She guided me through the process of applying for a space at the Chamorro Village, even though I ultimately shifted toward securing a physical space elsewhere. I really appreciated that Denise was a businesswoman herself and could relate to my experience. She helped me navigate my goals and create actionable steps throughout various stages in my business over the years. I absolutely love and appreciate that the service is ongoing and free of charge, as it brings relief and reassurance to know that I have the support of the SBDC if I come up against certain challenges. I recommend to anyone who is thinking of starting a business, or looking at expanding an existing business, to utilize the valuable services offered by the SBDC to navigate the steps of the process. They have been an instrumental part of my business's success over the years, and for that I am truly grateful.”

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you, visit

Friday, June 10, 2016

Green Flash Comics Now Located in Joeten Superstore Building

Interviewed by: Orrin Pharmin
SBDC Director/Business Advisor

Please tell us about yourself and your family I arrived on Saipan in 2002 to teach math at the Northern Mariana College (NMC).  I left NMC in 2009 and taught math at Marianas High School for two years.  I also taught computer course and math at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi in 2011-2012. I then returned to Saipan in 2012.  My wife's name is Susan, who works for IT&E as a purchaser and we have two children: James (11) and Sarah (9).

Why did you decide to start your own business?  While in Abu Dhabi, I attended the very first annual “Comic-Con.” Although there is a high demand for comic book merchandise as well as a high level of brand and character recognition, I discovered that there were no comic book merchandise stores in the entire country of the United Arab Emirates. The one condition for starting a store there is that I would need to already have a business elsewhere, so I decided to start one on Saipan since there were no other full comic merchandise stores on the island.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?  They got me started in the right direction by helping me with the logistics of starting a business on the island.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?  I funded the business completely through personal savings I did not take out a loan or need to borrow money.  The start-up process took more than a year.  It's a lot of work and planning plus finding a suitable location.  This all took a bit of time.

What were some of the biggest challenges/experienced you experienced in the start-up process?  There were plenty of challenges, including finding a reasonably proper location, setting up how to make and receive orders, finding out what was in demand and what was not, establishing a clientele.

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?  Just opening the doors for the first day of business knowing the store was absolutely ready to begin business.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?  Short term: Moving to a better location (which has been accomplished).  Long term: Opening a store in the U.A.E.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?  With the price of oil dropping as much as it has in the past year or so, plus the noticeable increase in construction on-island, it might be a good time to consider starting a business.

For more information on starting a new business or expanding your existing business, contact the CNMI SBDC at 670-664-3018. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Field Bar and Restaurant in Palau: Great Atmosphere and Food

By: Ltelatk Fritz
Service Center Director/Business Advisor
(Palau SBDC)

Spectacular sunset views at dusk overlooking the bay towards Ngarkebesang Island. The Field Bar & Restaurant is owned and operated by Wilbur “Olu” Williams. It is a family-friendly, full-service restaurant with a semi-formal, relaxing atmosphere. The Field is also a chic bar, open nightly from 6 pm to Midnight on weekdays and until 1 am on Saturday nights.

With the help of his family, Olu officially opened The Field for business in July 2013.  Although he did not have a lot of experience in the food & beverage industry, he has always envisioned owning and running a bar and restaurant.  He is extremely grateful for the support and knowledge he gained from watching his in-laws run their restaurant. After 24 years working for Palau’s national government, Olu was able to lease the old Peleliu Club—the original location on the ground floor at Uchul a Ngas in Medalaii—as well as obtaining capital to renovate, re-wire, and re-furnish the place with the help of his family. 

In 2015, he came to the Palau SBDC to seek assistance in expanding his business. Olu needed additional capital to increase his inventory and revitalize the business operations.  Palau SBDC was able to help The Field successfully retain three (3) existing jobs and maintain its operations, in addition to the acquisition of new capital obtained from the Palau National Development Bank.

Owner Wilbur "Olu" Williams
Today, The Field is thriving and riding the current waves of increased business from the locals celebrating the many holidays and annual festivities. As a restaurant, The Field serves up a great selection of delicious local and international cuisines. During the work week, The Field is open for lunch from 11 am to 2 pm. In the evening, it re-opens at 6pm for dinner every evening except for Sundays. Some of the local favorites include the Kangkum Tuna and the Sizzling Steaks.  The field also offers catering for in-house events such as birthday parties, baby showers, workshops, luncheons, office dinners, family reunions, class reunions, and even local customs.

The Field is a very family oriented business, as Olu and his family are very supportive of one another. The management is flexible and is often able to meet with the needs and requests of their clientele.  The Field also allows guests to book the venue and bring in their own food and drinks, with prior arrangements.  There’s a separate smoking area within the restaurant to make it convenient for everyone.  It is spacious enough to comfortably fit 70-75 guests.  

As for entertainment, The Field has two extra-large flat screen televisions—one at the bar and one in the dining area.  Live, local entertainment is available upon request for additional charges. 

The Field is open six days a week—Monday through Saturday. It is located at the Peleliu Club Building, next to Bai ra Maiberel and Palau Conservation Society, across from Happy Landing Shell Station. You can contact them at (680) 488-1888; e-mail; or follow them on Facebook. 

For more information on how the Palau SBDC can assist you whether starting or expanding your business, contact their office at 680-587-6004 or visit 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Crafting the Hafaloha Spirit: An Interview with Owners Leonard and Tara Kaae

By: Nicole Tesiro
Network Program Associate
(Pacific Islands SBDC Network)

Growing up in Hawai`i, Len Kaae looked up to local clothing brands as inspiration to own a retail store one day. Together with his wife and business partner, Tara, they made that dream happen to what is now known as Hafaloha. I had the opportunity to sit and speak to them at their shop in Tumon on how Hafaloha started and take a glimpse to where the company is heading.  

Hafaloha started as a hobby, creating and selling merchandise on a spare time. Having to work, raise three children (Trayven, 12, Ahela’a, 6, and Leonard III, 5), and start Hafaloha was an overwhelming experience. But they managed to do them in stages, accomplishing each small goal to reach their ultimate achievement of opening a brick and mortar shop. They first wanted to have an online presence selling merchandise on the web. They also attended the Pacific Islander Festival Association (PIFA), exposing Hafaloha to the Pacific Islander community in the West Coast.  Then, they opened a pop-up shop in the Guam Premier Outlet (GPO) displaying their style to the Guam community and returned to PIFA the next year. After much exposure and noticing a consumer demand, they finally decided to open their store, located in Tumon across the Pacific Islands Club (PIC).  The shop coming to fruition exemplifies the result of hard work and the desire of truly wanting something to happen. Although the stages they went through took a toll on them mentally and physically, they found the strength and motivation in the people who surrounded them with support and guidance. They reflected on their humble beginnings starting  with just the two of them and a rack in their bedroom hanging a few of their designs to today where their shop carries a variety of products, serves shave ice and acai bowls, and  employs a staff of 27. 

Len spoke on how growing up with three sisters helped him understand fashion and gave him advice to craft his own style. He also credited the local clothing brands present in Hawai`i when he was growing up to spark his artistic vision. Tara’s background focused on customer service and general operations specifically in the food and beverage and retail industries. Her enthusiastic personality exhibited one who enjoyed meeting new people and a love for learning. As partners, they decided that Tara would be the general manager of operations while Len would be the artistic eye generating designs for new merchandise. The Kaaes spoke a lot about family and centered their business approach on treating their employees and customers like family. The love (or Hafaloha) exudes from both of them constantly smiling when they talk about their business, staff, customers, and each other. It was evident that a lot of care goes into this company. 

The Guam SBDC was another support system that helped achieve their dream. Tara listened to the positive advice of Denise Mendiola, Senior Business Advisor/Women in Business Program Coordinator.  Denise’s experiences of what worked and didn’t work for her in her business ventures aided in how Tara and Len structured their business model. Len chimed in stating his appreciation for how Denise was always available to answer any of their questions. Denise’s enthusiasm and inspiring words gave them that boost of confidence needed to believe that their goal was within their reach. Tara mentioned that the workshops that SBDC offered were helpful in managing their operations. The QuickBooks courses gave her a better understanding in basic accounting before they were able to hire an accountant. Preparing the business plan was the most crucial aspect of the technical support received by the Guam SBDC because it laid the groundwork for what Hafaloha would be. The resources available to complete the business plan were valuable especially the convenience of being able to just plug in the data they researched into the financial templates provided and having it generate their reports. 

The business plan was also a crucial document for potential partners seeking a stake in Hafaloha. These partners wanted to see their financial projections and sales forecasts as well as how they will execute and implement their ideas. The Kaaes did not take out a loan and, instead, opted to find a partner. The guidance received from these partners became vital in the products produced and the timing of their release. Hafaloha is about constant reinvention and to evolve as a brand as consumer trends evolve. Len stated, “We had to continuously keep it fresh and keep it new.” The wide spectrum and number of ideas they had for the shop was immense, and they both stated how thankful they were for the business savvy of these partners in how to prioritize their ideas and identify which ideas would be beneficial to the growth of their business. 

Tara and Len found themselves in challenging situations where mistakes were made but are grateful that they happened because they were able to analyze these situations, learn how to prevent them, and make smarter business decisions. It was discouraging at first, but they told themselves that they can only understand what went wrong and try to find solutions. As a business owner, there is no time to sulk in these types of situations. Len stated, “You have to wake up, brush it off, and ask yourself what you are going to do to fix it. Just keep pushing.” 

When asked what their most memorable triumph in this start-up process, they simply replied the entire journey. They reflected on how they started and appreciated that they were able to see those dreams realized and those goals accomplished. As the Festival of Pacific Arts (FestPac) approaches, Hafaloha’s short-term goals involve working towards utilizing the event to showcase what Hafaloha has to offer. In the coming months, you’ll be expected to see Hafaloha collaborate with local and international companies organizing events. In addition, Hafaloha will be able to serve customers from private parties to community events with their mobile shave ice. Over the next years, Hafaloha’s long-term goal is to expand their business by opening other locations on Guam. Furthermore, Tara and Len want to improve the shave ice side of their business by offering more local favorites and unique flavors and creating their own sugar-free syrups to cater to other markets.   

Listening to Tara and Len speak on their business and their family was inspiring. Hearing how they started with the one rack in their bedroom—which they still have—to remind them of their journey to planning a second location and offering a variety of products is motivating for any business owner that has an idea that they are passionate about. When asked to give advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Len and Tara agree that passion is key. They continue to say to have patience and expect to fail, and when you do come across those hiccups, dust yourself off and persevere. 

Hafaloha is a two-part retail shop offering clothing merchandise from shirts, hats, surf shorts, women’s clothing, and kid’s clothing to bags, sunglasses, air fresheners, key chains, coloring books, and stickers. The other part of the shop offers shave ice where they developed their own syrups and acai bowls. For more information on Hafaloha and their products, visit or call 671-989-3444.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you, visit our website at or contact our main office at 671-735-2590. Request for counseling to receive free, confidential one-on-one business advisement or register for upcoming training events at low to no cost to jumpstart your business venture.