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Small loan, big reward.

After decades working in his family’s restaurant, Eladio Guevara opened his own pizza place in Wilmington. When the time came to move, Northern Bank was there to help.

Eladio Guevara is no stranger to the food and dining business - he spent 30 years running a family restaurant with his mom in North Reading. Eventually, though, the time came for the Stoneham native to venture out on his own.

“I left a solid paycheck to spend time with my family,” said Eladio, who now lives in Reading with his three children and wife, Amy.

After Eladio left the family business, he and Amy opened EJs Fresh Pizza in Wilmington. Both work very hard at the restaurant and operate it as co-owners. While EJ’s is still very demanding of Eladio’s time, it offers more downtime, including a chance to watch and coach his kids in baseball.

With an established restaurant and engaged community, life was good for the Guevara family. But in 2017, they got word that the owner of the building where EJ’s Fresh Pizza was located would be demolished.

A Northern Bank employee (also a customer of EJ’s) learned of the problem and offered a solution.

“I was going to ride it out and stay in the building as long as I could,” said Eladio, who could not afford to move the business to another location. “But Northern Bank opened the doors financially. It was painless. I did nothing. I signed my name and Northern did all the legwork.”

Northern Bank offered Eladio and Amy an SBA loan, which is backed by the U.S. government's Small Business Administration.

There are two key advantages of an SBA loan:

  • Only 10% equity is required vs. other loan options which usually require around 20-25%.
  • SBA loans provide longer amortization, 10-year terms with 10-year amortization which allows a borrower to stretch out payments, taking the pressure off cash flow. Most traditional loans offer only 5-year amortization.

With an SBA loan from Northern Bank, Eladio and Amy moved the restaurant to a better location on Main Street in Wilmington.

"It's now a bigger location with more seating,” he said. "I didn't think banks did this (small business lending) anymore."

About EJs Fresh Pizza

EJ’s, named after one of Eladio’s children, offers locally made Italian food and catering six days a week. It makes regular charitable donations through its “dine out” program that offers a percentage of daytime sales to local nonprofits.

“Nothing brings people together like good food, we love to see people gather around the table, enjoying our homemade food, creating memories,” said Amy.

Make sure you get an order in early on Fridays, which is the busiest day.

“The chicken parm is awesome,” said Eladio. “The Waldorf salad is off the charts – people go crazy for it. We make 50 to 75 salads a day.”

Amy is also a fan of the Waldorf salad and more.

“My favorite items on our menu are the Mac n Cheese bowls and the Waldorf salad,” said Amy. “My favorite pizza is the eggplant special.”

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