Terese Reiling-Holden, vice president with Colliers International | Minneapolis-St. Paul, successfully represented her client, 153-155 East 37th Street, LLC, in the sale of a former Applebee’s restaurant in Rogers.

The 5,149-square-foot building on 1.85 acres of land off I-94 sold for $850,000 and is set to house the 19th location of the popular Twin Cities Mexican restaurant chain El Loro. Josh Huempfner and Blake Martin with Upland Real Estate Group, Inc. represented the buyer, MGP LLC, and the transaction closed on Aug. 31.

El Loro owner Marcos Gomez has been in the restaurant business since he started working for his father in 1995. Gomez opened the first El Loro location in May 2000 and has grown it to 18 locations in the metro area since then, with the 19th to open in Rogers.

One of 23 children, Gomez credits much of his success to working alongside his family to build longstanding relationships with customers in the community, which serves as a differentiating factor from larger national chains without deep local ties. As government-mandated shutdowns hit due to the pandemic in March, Gomez says that his community rallied around him, ordering takeout and leaving large tips for staff to help ensure the long-term success of his business.

“Our customers reciprocated the loyalty and consistency we’ve shown over the years,” said Gomez. “It’s awe-inspiring to see our community show up for us and to have customers tell us that our business matters to them.”

Additionally, since the onset of the pandemic, Gomez has been able to secure a federal SBA loan with a 2.2% interest rate and deferred payments to help him maintain and grow his business. “It’s a good program,” said Gomez. “I first started working with it in 2004 to launch my business, and I encourage any small business owner to investigate using the program to help with buying real estate.”

“The support that local entrepreneurs are seeing from the community proves that customer service is a key differentiator in the competitive restaurant industry. Building brand loyalty for customer retention is crucial to surviving market downturns,” said Terese Reiling-Holden, vice president and retail brokerage expert with Colliers. “Plus, we’re seeing that local concepts that have been able to pivot their strategies during COVID-19 to meet changing customer needs and utilize SBA loans are currently much more active than national concepts.”

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