CHATHAM — A Harold’s Chicken franchise owner said he is tired of seeing men walk by his Chatham restaurant every day with nothing to do but hang out.
But rather than complain about their presence, James Denman said he plans to open a second restaurant by January to create job opportunities for them.
The 43-year-old Chatham resident plans to seek online investors through LendSquare to help him raise $50,000. Denman now employs five people, including three men from Chatham.
“Small-business owners need to help create jobs for the community if we want to see it get better,” said Denman, who grew up in Englewood. “That’s all I am trying to do — is create opportunities for my community."
Denman, whose restaurant is at 439 E. 79th St., hopes to identify a location for the new restaurant by September, and then begin finding online investors. Hyde Park, Bronzeville and the South Loop are among the neighborhoods he is considering, in part because there are four Harold's Chicken restaurants already in Chatham.
“If I can find a spot that does not need much renovation work, I could probably open it with $25,000,” Denman said. “But if the location needs a lot of rehab work, then I estimate $50,000 would be needed.”
“LendSquare is a locally funded loan, not a donation like Kickstarter. People invest in businesses on LendSquare like a bank lends money to a business or person,” said Bryce Huguenin, a spokesman for LendSquare. “There is an interest rate, payback time and risk assessment that both the business and lender understand up front.”
Since 2013, LendSquare has worked with 17 Chicago businesses to raise capital through their customers and neighbors, Huguenin said.
Christine Pierce, a spokeswoman for Harold’s Chicken corporate office in south suburban Homewood, did not return calls seeking comment.
Before buying the restaurant in May, Denman was a manager for three months. He also owned Jamie’s Italian Beef, a former fast-food restaurant in Chatham from 2005 to 2008.
Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, said the association has a micro-lending program available for business owners like Denman looking to expand.
“One of the biggest obstacles to small businesses growing and expanding is access to capital,” Kelly said. “We encourage our members to utilize all of our resources because that’s what we’re here for.”
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