By: The CNMI SBDC Staff
Growing up in a restaurant environment, the exposure to the hotel and restaurant industry from her grandparents and father, and then later studied the business aspects of the industry in college, Belen Busby was destined to open a restaurant of her own. She stated, “It’s kind of a childhood dream that needed to happen.” Belen was born into the industry where her grandparents owned a restaurant in the Philippines and then having worked in F&B businesses since the age of 18. She went to college and earned a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Administration and a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technology and Network Engineering. Belen has resided on Saipan for 21 years with her husband Michael Busby and son, Rafael.
Five years ago, Belen and Michael opened Shenanigans Restaurant located in Orchid St. Beach Road, Garapan serving up pasta, sandwiches, and other delicious entrees. The business was funded through their personal savings and personal loans. Belen recalls back on the obstacles they faced during their start-up years that not only affected the CNMI throughout but their business as well. Shenanigans Restaurant was opened during a period when the government and private sector were cutting hours, during the unfortunate and unforeseen disasters in Japan (one of the CNMI’s main tourism markets), and the increase in prices and utility rates. Other challenges have been obtaining CNMI-only Transitional Worker (CW) permits for workers, finding experienced U.S. Citizens to replace CWs, and maintaining operating capital to meet the shortcoming of the low season. However, the Busby’s survived and Belen stated that if they could survive those years, especially in an industry as tough as the restaurant business, she believes they can survive another five years and more.
As their five year mark approached, their equipment reached its mark as well. With the guidance and assistance of the CNMI SBDC, the Commonwealth Development Authority (CDA), and City Trust Bank, the Busby’s were able to obtain funding to purchase new equipment and repair their old ones. In addition, they were able to access additional operating capital and gained the knowledge of creating a formal financial portfolio for their company. One of the most difficult years for the Busby’s and Shenanigans Restaurant was the hardships they faced in 2014 and making it through that served as their most memorable triumph. Belen shared her gratitude and appreciation of the patronage of their customers and the support of their vendors and the trust that they have instilled in them over the years.
With her experience Belen advises entrepreneurs, “Follow your instinct and keep praying for guidance. Know who to trust and stay away from the ones that project negative vibes.” She continues on to say that a business is a gamble. You will never know if you are going to succeed unless you try. It is also a test of self-control and knowing when to stop. Before Belen and Michael opened Shenanigans, she shared her possible venture with others. They questioned her decision with the condition of the economy. However, she responded that [the economy] is in the bottom and that there is nowhere for it to go but up. She also stated that if she did not do it now then she might not have the chance to do it again and she will never know if it failed or succeeded.
Shenanigans Restaurant is located in Garapan, Saipan. They are open for breakfast at 7:30am on Saturday and Sunday only and every day for lunch from 10:30am – 3:00pm and dinner from 5:30pm – 10:00pm. Contact Shenanigans Restaurant at 670-233-8324 or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information on how the CNMI SBDC can assist you start or expand your business, contact their office at 670-664-3018 or visit www.pacificsbdc.com.