Michael Lutfy and his wife, Biergitte, did research for years before they purchased, renovated and opened the Chimayo Restaurant on Main Avenue in Durango.
Michael started working in his Uncle’s restaurant when he was 12 years old. He worked his way through college as a chef, and then worked as an Executive Chef for a large restaurant in downtown Los Angeles for many years. Desiring to change careers and become a writer, and then an editor with a large publishing company.
Helping his sister cater parties got him back into the food business. Since Biergitte had earned a culinary degree in Denmark, they made a great team and worked together for a year, traveling all over the United States as corporate chefs for the Andretti Racing Team.
In their travels, they visited some of the best restaurants in the country, making notes about what they liked and didn’t like with a vision of opening their own restaurant some day. Working for somebody else and owning a restaurant are very different.
“Without a business degree, I knew I would need help to keep things in focus and create a viable business plan. The SBDC is an amazing resource and I couldn’t imagine having done this without them”, explains Lutfy. He took the Leading Edge for Entrepreneur’s class in 2009.
He is extremely grateful for the help he received from Joe Keck and the advisors at SBDC helping him through the process of researching and refining the concept for his restaurant.
The couple did their due diligence and analyzed many restaurants before deciding to open Chimayo. “All along, we kept learning about what location we wanted, we analyzed the financials and determined the real potential for the business. We conducted physical inspections various properties and knew exactly what it would cost to renovate and make improvements.”
The couple worked with advisor Terryl Peterson analyzing the financials of all the properties they looked at. “We then understood what made sense and what didn’t from a financial perspective.” Peterson created a template they used to analyze the previous financials of each restaurant.
Advisor, Joe Bishop, helped extensively with the negotiation for the lease with the landlord. As an objective, unbiased advisor, with knowledge of commercial leases, Bishop’s assistance facilitated the agreement. “Joe has been there behind the scenes with invaluable insights and advice. Without him, I don’t think the deal would have come together,” explains Lutfy.
Biergitte was the architect and interior designer for the beautiful restaurant that opened on May 7, 2012. “We thoroughly studied the market here and knew which kind of restaurant was lacking and we have filled a niche here.”