This post is part of a series celebrating San Francisco small businesses as part of the Kiva SF launch. Learn more>

Azar’s training as a barbeque master started at a very young age. Growing up in East Palo Alto in the 1980s, he was a fixture at his parent’s restaurant, Goldie’s Barbeque.

Goldie, Azar’s mother and the namesake of the restaurant, taught Azar how to prepare food and run the business.

“After Azar finished his homework, he would help in the back of the restaurant,” she said. “He would do cleaning when he was younger and eventually helped cook in the kitchen.”

After a period of gentrification in the neighborhood, Goldie’s was forced to close their two locations.

“There was Goldie’s, a liquor store and a barbershop in the area. And by the 90s they were all gone,” Goldie said. “With the community being forced out and the passing of my husband we were forced to close down the business.”

Now Goldie’s has been reborn. With the help of a Kiva loan in 2014, Azar reinvented Goldie’s and became the proprietor of one of the only barbeque catering services in the bay area.

Azar’s Kiva loan helped him purchase a smoker and a tent for events. The catering business is going strong, but Azar emphasizes it was not an easy road.

In the early stages of developing the new Goldie’s, Azar was working long hours at his day job in the hospice industry and starting to form the business. He lost his business partner and funding source early on in the process. Azar originally had no intention of owning a catering business, but the new business plan came as a creative solution to these hurdles.

“To develop a business plan I didn’t sleep for like two days. My business proposal was over 20 pages,” he said. “When I lost my business partner I started brainstorming… and decided to do caterings (instead of working out of a costly store front).”

Azar’s Kiva loan was fully funded after just 45 days on Kiva. He is convinced that his experience with Kiva was a success because of his business plan.

“I took time and had a detailed business proposal. I revised my plan until it made sense.”

Azar’s best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is to do their research. Many people have dreams of making a living through their from hobby. But few have a profitable business plan to realize their goals.

“Do your research, know what you are doing.” Azar said. “Its one thing to say ‘I love to do this’, but you need to ask ‘can I make a living doing this?”’

Beyond helping him restart his career, Kiva has helped revive a family tradition.

“I am happy to see Goldie’s serving people again,” Goldie said. “You can tell Azar really loves what he is doing.”

Azar is especially happy to be in control of his work and have power over his future.

“I didn’t like relying on other people to write my check and tell me what I’m worth.” Azar said. “I’d rather bring my energy and tenacity to work for myself to make my vision happen.”


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