610-821-6870 | 122 North 5th Street Allentown, PA 18102
610-821-6870 | 122 North 5th Street Allentown, PA 18102
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ John and Lisa McDonald of Schnecksville recently closed on a multi-million dollar SBA 504 construction loan that will enable them to open a second location of their family-run Leader of the Pack Canine Institute on 3 ½ acres in a Forks Township business park.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group, LLC, arranged the combination SBA and conventional construction loan from TD Bank that the McDonalds will use to build a second facility offering training, day care, boarding, grooming and pet supplies for all breeds of dogs.
The McDonalds opened their first Leader of the Pack at 6346 Farm Bureau Road in Upper Macungie Township in 2009 and have been serving families across the Lehigh Valley from this location. “We have been wanting to open a second location that is convenient for our families that live on the East side of the Lehigh Valley,” John said. “The time was right when we found the right piece of property. We’ve decided to take a leap of faith and open a second corporate location in Forks.” Leader of the Pack Canine Institute also has a franchise offering, which the McDonalds are marketing with a regional approach for additional expansion of their pet services business.
The McDonalds hope to break ground on the new facility at 1200 Braden Boulevard in June. When complete, it will be a 28,125 square-foot facility. It should be complete early next spring.
“It is going to be the same model as our award winning Leader of the Pack in Upper Macungie,” John said. “We will offer training, boarding, day care and grooming and do retail sales as well at our new site.”
The new location will have about 50 employees. Its current location employs 45.
Barber helped the McDonalds with arranging financing on a number of different projects over the years, including when they expanded their original site from 5,000 to 15,000 square feet.
Barber said that he is looking forward to seeing the McDonalds complete their latest project and that he excited to see the success of the second location.
“We ensure that a family’s pets are happy and comfortable whether they come for a full day or for longer boarding and that they return home safe and healthy,” Lisa said. “We thank all of our pet parents for their support and we look forward to serving many new clients at our second location,” she added.
The McDonalds were represented by Attorney Joseph Piperato of Eastburn & Gray Law Offices in Bethlehem and Paula Csaszar of Penn Star Land Transfer, LLC. Rob Millman and Todd Sparks of TD Bank funded the loan.
For more information on Leader of the Pack Canine Institute, please visit http://www.lopci.com
BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania _ Lehigh graduate Yongkang Gao and his business partner, Bill Geddes, recently purchased the iconic south side eatery, Pete’s Hot Dog Shop, and an adjacent three-story building that houses two residential units. They plan to reopen a restaurant in the Pete’s building at 400 Broadway after renovations to it are complete. They also plan to renovate the two residences each of which has its own entrance.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group, LLC, in Allentown, arranged the commercial financing so that the partners could purchase the restaurant and residental building which were sold together and make renovations to them. The purchase price was not disclosed.
Gao hopes the residential units at 406 Carlton Avenue will be ready for occupancy by late summer and the restaurant at the end of August, beginning of September. “We need to do a lot of renovations,” Gao said.
An electrical engineer, Gao, who earned his PhD at Lehigh, had eaten at the hot dog shop a few times while a student. Pete’s which had been at that location since 1937 closed in March. John Mamounas bought Pete’s in 1988 from Teddy Kourpas, whose uncle, Pete Kourpas, opened the business. Generations of Lehigh Valley residents, including Bethlehem Steel workers and Lehigh students, feasted on hot dogs, cheesesteaks, burgers and perogies at Pete’s over its many years.
Gao, who lives in the Bay Area of California where he works for Apple, owns several other residential properties on the south side and was eager to purchase Pete’s and the residential building when he learned they were for sale. Giddes, who is known as Excecutive Chef Billy G, has restaurant experience (including a hot dog truck) and will oversee the renovations and opening of both. Giddes, who lives in South Jersey, is moving to Bethlehem to oversee the project.
Gao said they had some idea of what they want to do in the Pete’s space, which is small, but haven’t made any decisions yet other than it will be a restaurant. Geddes said a hot dog will be on the menu “because that’s what people want,” but he expects the menu to be “a little bit of everything.” Geddes is also a contractor and has experience in renovations.
Barber said he is happy that Gao and his business partner will be able to keep the site a restaurant and is confident their new venture will succeed whatever way they go.
Jackie Vasko of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Benjamin Real Estate of Schnecksville was the listing agent and represented both buyers and sellers.
Lori Lewis and Sonya Bieber of Lighthouse Abstract in Bethlehem assisted with the closing.
STROUDSBURG, Pennsylvania _ Phylicia Crowe and Amber Rodriguez, owners of Indulgence Hair Studio, have purchased a two-story building at 501 Sarah Street and plan to move their salon to the new location when renovations are complete in early summer. An apartment on the second floor of the building will remain. The first floor where the salon will be located currently is empty.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC arranged the commercial financing so that the salon owners could purchase the new location and make the necessary renovations.
Crowe and Rodriguez have known each other for 17 years having met working in the same salon. They moved to different salons together and agreed to open their own salon, Indulgence Hair Studio, on Monroe Street six years ago. Their new location is about three blocks away.
The salon owners were excited about the new location as soon as they saw it. “It is a lot larger than our current location, which we have grown out of,” Crowe said. “It has a good view and it’s right in town.”
The building was gutted and updated a few years ago. “It’s all new and beautiful,” Crowe said. Still, some plumbing and electrical work is needed. The salon owners expect to open at the new location June 28. “We have our projected opening date already,” Crowe said.
The new salon will have six stylists and a receptionist as does the current location, but more staff may be added at a later time, Crowe said.
Indulgence Salon offers haircuts, the latest trends in hair coloring, hairstyling including special occasion hair, conditioning treatments, professional makeup application, and facial waxing. “It’s our mission to provide a comfortable environment for our customers to truly indulge themselves with our offered services,” Crowe said.
Their real estate agent, Troy Breen of Keller Williams Realty in Stroudsburg, recommended Lehigh Financial Group to the salon owners. Crowe said it was a great recommendation as Barber did a terrific job helping them secure the financing they needed.
Barber’s responsibilities as president include working with banks, non-banks, private money investors and SBA lenders with arranging conventional commercial real estate financing, bridge loans, accounts receivable and equipment financing for small business owners and real estate investors.
He has served as president of Lehigh Financial Group for 24 years.
Barber said the Lehigh Valley is the fastest-growing region in Pennsylvania for business and job growth. “What tested my team and I was managing the volume of business we did in 2022. The demand for commercial financing has tripled our normal volume, and we do not see that slowing down anytime soon. Providing financing options was key to our business growth. Real estate investors and small business owners are still bullish on our economy in the Lehigh Valley,” Barber said.
“There is not one thing, but many things that my entire team did for our clients. Managing the volume of calls, text messages, emails, voicemails and dealing with all our lenders and clients, and they handled it all with astute professionalism. When you see the amount of loans that are closing, you know we are changing the lives of business owners, real estate investors and their families,” he said.
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Ethia Dulorie and her husband, Garry, of Macungie have purchased the nearly 4,000-square-foot building at 3001 West Emaus Avenue and plan to renovate and expand. The couple hope to move their Emaus Avenue daycare to the new site by the fall when the renovations are complete. The building had last been a mattress store.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the financing for the Dulories to buy the building and make renovations. The purchase price was not disclosed. The sale was completed in early March.
The Dulories opened the day care, Creative Kids Learning Academy, at 2925 W. Emaus Avenue in 2013. They lease the space which has about 55 children enrolled. When they saw the building practically next door was for sale, they decided to buy it and renovate it. The new space will be licensed for about 130 children ages infant to 13.
“There is a huge demand for quality childcare, especially in this area,” Ethia said. “This will allow us to accommodate more families.” Ethia said they plan to make extensive renovations to the site and install an outdoor play area. They are hoping to complete the renovations in about six months.
The Dulories also operate a day care, The Lehigh School Academy of Early Education, at 1593 Lehigh Street. No changes are planned for that site.
When the Emaus Avenue daycare moves, it will change its name to The Lehigh School Academy of Early Education as well.
Barber said he is excited to see the Dulories expand their childcare business and knows they are committed to providing an environment where children of all ages and backgrounds can flourish.
Ayon Codner of Keller Williams Real Estate in Allentown represented the Dulories and Carl Joseph Black, Esq. was their legal counsel.
Plainfield Township, Pennsylvania _ Chef Angelo Napoli, 34, has purchased a long vacant three-story building at 5664 Sullivan Trail and plans to convert it into a commercial kitchen for his catering business, Modern Fusion Catering. Modern Fusion Catering specializes in custom menus for weddings, celebrations and corporate events.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the business loan so that Napoli could buy the building and convert it into a commercial kitchen on the first floor and apartments on the second. The purchase closed at the end of February.
Napoli plans to completely gut the building and outfit it as the main prep kitchen for his catering business, which he plans to someday expand beyond Pennsylvania. “This is going to be a completely new wave of wedding food everywhere as we don’t do typical wedding food,” Napoli said. “We are totally different.”
Napoli, who grew up in Bethlehem Township, often saw the building on Sullivan Trail on his way to his father’s pizzeria in Bangor, Napoli’s Pizza, on S. First Street. He often thought it would make a great restaurant and had dreams of buying it one day.
Napoli, who started his catering business in 2015, had been using his dad’s restaurant kitchen. But as his catering business has expanded greatly, he needed to find his own place. “We were getting too busy for it to be for two businesses,” Napoli said.
Napoli expects the renovations to be complete by mid-summer. The catering kitchen will have a tasting room for wedding clients by appointment. It won’t have a dining room open to the public, Napoli said.
Apartments are planned for the second floor and possibly for the third floor if zoning allows, Napoli said. Each floor is 2500 square-feet.
Eventually, Napoli plans to franchise his business and use this commercial kitchen as the main food supplier. “My idea is to franchise the company but this is where the main food supplier will be,” Napoli said.
Napoli has clients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey but plans to expand to other states as well.
Napoli said Barber, whom he met through a mutual friend, was instrumental in getting him the financing he needed. “Jeff knew how to make it possible,” he said. Napoli said now that he has the funds, he has no choice but to succeed.
Barber said Napoli is a great chef and businessman and knows his newest venture will be extremely successful.
Napoli was represented by Nancy Hernandez of Howard Hanna The Frederick Group in Allentown. First United Land Transfer handled the closing.
BETHLEHEM TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania _ Costas and Deb Hrousis of Bethlehem Township have purchased a 2.2-acre property and plan to open a luxury boarding and doggie daycare center on the site by mid-summer. The property, which at one time housed a child daycare center, is at 3986 Township Line Road in the township.
Mike Gilbert of Lehigh Financial Group LLC helped arrange the multi-million-dollar SBA 504 loan that the couple used to buy the property and will use to renovate the 9,225-square-foot building on it.
“We are basically gutting the entire inside of the building and we’re transforming it into the luxury boarding and daycare model that is K9 Resort,” Deb said. “Our goal is to open sometime this summer.”
A franchise, K9 Resort is based in New Jersey and a leader in the luxury pet hospitality industry. K9 Resorts offer sleeping enclosures for one to two dogs and day group play or individual play time with staff. It also says it has comfort mat bedding and premium meals for the dogs.
When fully operational, the couple will be able to offer overnight boarding for up to 85 dogs and doggie daycare for up to 140.
Like many people, Deb got a dog during the pandemic. Apollo, 4, a black lab, “just loves everybody,” she said. “But he doesn’t necessarily do well in group settings.” Working in education, Deb was looking for a one-on-one place for Apollo at the same time she was looking for her “do-next” career. K9 came up on her internet search, and she was hooked, she said.
Once they bought the franchise, Costas, owner of Veraxia Commercial Real Estate, found the location, which is about 8 minutes from their home.
Deb said Mike Gilbert was instrumental in getting their SBA loan to close. “He walked us through every step of the project and, whenever challenges arose, he took the stress out of it for us,” she said. “Having Mike there to help when starting a business was instrumental.”
Gilbert expects the K9 Resort to be popular with area dog owners who wish to pamper their pets when they can’t.
The buyers were represented by Attorney Paul Harak of Holzinger, Harak & Scomillio Law Offices in Bethlehem and the lender that funded the loan was TD Bank.
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Almost a year after buying the former Dave Phillips Sound & Music store at 622 Union Boulevard, Thomas Walker, CEO of Action Project Management, has secured an SBA loan to convert most of the first floor into an AFC Urgent Care center.
The center will be the first of its kind on the city’s eastside. It is scheduled to open May 18.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group, LLC, arranged the SBA loan that Walker will use to renovate the space and open the urgent care center. The loan closed mid-February.
Barber also helped Walker obtain the financing to buy the 17,000-square-foot building for $1.4 million in March 2022. Action Project Management has since moved its offices to the second floor of the building and uses the property’s warehouse space for its retail projects.
Walker, who was a missionary in Brazil for many years, said he chose to open an AFC Urgent Center because he is very interested in serving the community. The COVID pandemic has made everyone “health-care minded,” he said, “and this will be an asset to the community.”
The Urgent Center will fill about 80 percent of the space on the first floor of the building. Walker plans to have medical offices fill the remainder.
Walker said he went to Barber to secure the SBA loan because of “the great job he did” helping him obtain his loan to buy the building last year.
Barber said he is happy that Walker and the urgent care center will expand options for health care for the people in the neighborhood and surrounding area.
Based in Birmingham., Alabama, AFC (American Family Care) has urgent care centers nationwide. AFC says its clinics provide immediate medical care at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room.
Walker was represented by Loren Speziale, Esq. of Gross McGinley LLC of Allentown and the lender that funding the SBA loan was 44 Business Capital.
KUTZTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Jasdeep and Rajni Grewal of Center Valley have purchased 163 West Main Street near the university and plan to open an Indian restaurant at the site. The restaurant will feature North and South Indian cuisine, but they have not yet decided on a name.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group, LLC, in Allentown, helped arrange the commercial financing for the Grewals to buy the building and open the restaurant.
Rajni Grewal grew up in the restaurant business. Her parents own Indian restaurants in New Jersey and her cousins own Indian restaurants in New Jersey and Easton, near Lafayette College. They will hire a chef for their new restaurant, but Jasdeep says he likes to cook and plans to help out.
They hope to open the restaurant by the end of April.
They plan to add some equipment and make some cosmetic changes to the building, which had been a restaurant before it closed. They also plan to add some seating and remodel the bathroom. “Before we open, we want to make it a place that people want to come and have food that is wow,” Jasdeep said.
Plans are to open the restaurant at 11 a.m. for lunch, close for dinner prep at 2:30, and reopen at 5. However, Jasdeep said their plans could change depending on traffic and what others in the area do.
The Grewals own two 7-Elevens in the Lehigh Valley area, one on Susquehanna Street in Allentown and one in Richlandtown. Because of Rajni’s family background, they had wanted to add a restaurant to their portfolio. Jasdeep said he had been looking at commercial real estate sites for a while when he saw this opportunity and thought the location in a college town ideal.
Barber said he is confident that their restaurant will be popular and a success particularly in this location with the Kutztown University students and local residents.
The buyers were represented by Ken Palumbo of Howard Hanna Commercial Real Estate in Allentown.
HELLERTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Zonia Sibri-Quinde of Bethlehem recently purchased the Hellertown Diner at 29 Main Street. This is the second restaurant for Sibri-Quinde, who opened Sibri’s Restaurant at 147 E. Broad Street in Bethlehem in 2018.
Jeffrey Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged an SBA loan so that Sibri-Quinde could complete the purchase. It closed at the end of December.
Sibri-Quinde said she had been looking to expand Sibri’s, a family-owned and operated restaurant, because it’s often crowded and parking is an issue. When she learned the Hellertown Diner was for sale, she thought it was a perfect opportunity and made an offer.
Sibri-Quinde plans to keep both restaurants open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and to add some customer favorite items from Sibri’s to the Hellertown Diner’s menu. “Our customers love our eggs benedict and all the kinds of waffles we serve. They also love our pulled pork and homemade crabmeat items,” Sibri-Quinde said. “Hopefully, people will come to both places to continue to enjoy our food.”
Sibri-Quinde also plans to complete some renovations at the diner but to keep it open throughout.
The Hellertown Diner opened in 2009 and has seating for 144.
Sibri-Quinde was represented by Attorney Joe Piperato. Her real estate agent was Marta Gandia of Cassidon Realty Better Homes & Gardens in Bethlehem. The listing agent was Jessica Vooz of The Jessica Vooz Group at Keller Williams Real Estate of Bethlehem.
The lender was 44 Business Capital, a direct small business lending division of Berkshire Bank.
Barber said he has arranging financing for the buyer for many years and was excited to help Sibri-Quinde secure her SBA loan and is confident her “expansion project” will do extremely well.
EASTON, Pennsylvania _ Jackie and Wilson Rueda, owners of Green Vida Company, have purchased a commercial property at 104 North Fourth Street to expand their organic cold press juicing business. The local business owners acquired the property for with a commercial loan arranged by Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC.
Jackie Rueda said after some minor renovations to the property, they would move their juicing operation to the new location. “Our juicing operation has grown, so we are expanding,” she said. “This purchase allows us to grow our juicing operations even more.” She expects to complete the move early in the new year.
The Ruedas opened their original GreenVida location in Bangor in 2018 and moved to the Easton area in 2019. They started the business after discovering the positive effects that a nutritional diet with natural, high-quality ingredients had on their autistic son’s physical and behavioral health.
They have two locations: The flagship cafe and juice bar is located inside Park Plaza in Forks Township. A second location in the Easton Public Market has been open since spring 2021. “We are not closing any of our current locations with this expansion,” Jackie Rueda said.
Rueda said Jeff Barber was really helpful in finding the best commercial loan that helped them to finance their expansion.
Barber said he is excited because he knows that the couple will continue to expand their business and do extremely well.
The buyers were represented by Nathan Powell of Keller Williams Realty of Bethlehem Pa. The loan was funded by Members 1st.
SCIOTA, Pennsylvania _ Kate and Ryan Burns of Salt Lake City, Utah, recently purchased property that includes four apartments and a dog sitting service and pet grooming and supplies business, The Barking Lot, in Sciota. The property is located at 216 Friemann Road.
Mike Gilbert of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown helped arrange the financing so that the Burns could complete their purchase.
The Barking Lot was founded by Karen Friemann, a graduate of the New York School of Dog Grooming in Manhattan, in 1982. “The business is very, very well-established and well branded having been in operation for more than 30 years,” Kate Burns said.
The Burns plan to make some improvements to the apartments on the property and to have the well-established pet care business continue. The only change is its name to the Pocono Barking Lot. They also will help the owner establish a website.
Dog breeders, the Ryans own similar pet care businesses across the country, including in Utah and Idaho. When they saw the Sciota property for sale on the internet, they knew it was a good fit for them, Kate Burns said. Gilbert was recommended to them by the listing agent. “Mike Gilbert was able to make the commercial loan work for us when others could not,” she said.
The buyer and seller were represented by Terri Mickens of TACM Commercial Realty Inc.
PEN ARGYL, Pennsylvania _ Mike and Stephanie Bartleson of Williams Township have purchased Premier Granite & Marble Inc. from their good friend, John Hunt. Hunt began the business at 735 West Pennsylvania Avenue in 2002 and wanted to sell because he was relocating out West.
Mike Bartleson, who had been friends with Hunt for more than 30 years, thought it would be a great opportunity for him to own a small business. Bartleson, a chemist by degree, said he saw the purchase of the business as an opportunity to “maintain and grow relationships that John started over his 20 years in business.”
Premier Marble & Granite serves both residential and commercial customers. Homeowners can visit the showroom and select materials while contractors and builders also can place orders, Bartleson said.
A native of Pen Argyl, Bartleson said he has no plans to make changes to the business side of the operation. “It is the perfect chance for me to pick up where John left off,” Bartleson said.
Eventually, Bartleson expects his youngest son who works at the business to take it over. His son’s working there was another reason why he was interested in buying the business when his friend wanted to sell.
Bartleson said Hunt had talked about selling over the years but knew he was serious about it this time because he purchased a home in Utah. This is Bartleson’s first business venture.
Jeff Barber of Lehigh Financial Group LLC in Allentown arranged the SBA financing for the Bartlesons to purchase the business.
Kristi Lutes, owner/managing director of Persev Advisors in Easton, a mergers and acquisitions firm, was instrumental in making the purchase come together. Attorney Bryan Tuk represented the buyers and Willow Settlement Services in Nazareth conducted the closing.
Barber said the purchase came together smoothly and that the Bartlesons will be extremely successful with their new business.
ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania _ Mohammed Yaseen of Forks Township, has purchased a property at 80 Savorcool Avenue in Pen Argyl, and plans to move his business, Lehigh HVAC LLC, in Easton that he co-owns with his brother-in-law Waqas Ahamd. They closed on the 6,000-square-foot property, which had been formally used by Tru Colors Restoration.
Lehigh HVAC specializes in providing heating and air conditioning services for residential and commercial buildings.
“The property includes offices and a warehouse that are ideal for our business,” Yaseen said. “And we can move in right away without renovations.”
Yaseen and Ahamd started the business in 2014 in New York and moved it to the Lehigh Valley in 2014. They had been renting space in Easton and had been looking for a property for their business that they could own for a number of years, Yaseen said.
The Pen Argyl property was ideal because it had what they were looking for: office space and a large warehouse. “We could not find anything more suitable,” Yaseen said. “The way it’s set up is perfect for us.”
The location is also ideal, Yaseen said. “We service customers from Allentown to the Poconos, and this is more centrally located than our current location.”
Barber said he was excited to help Yaseen and his brother-in-law close on their ideal property and knows they will continue to do well from this location and continue growing their business with the increase of space.
FORKS TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania _ Partners Dave Fiore and Sherief Elsamra have purchased the old Forks Diner at 3315 Sullivan Trail as a second location for their full-service auto repair business. They paid $650,000 for the nearly 5,000 square-foot diner and plan to convert it into a 6-bay auto repair shop.
Lehigh Financial Group, LLC in Allentown arranged more than $1,000,000 for the partners to acquire the property and convert it into a second shop. The new auto repair business will be called Your Mechanic PA, LLC.
Best friends, Fiore and Elsamra had been looking for a second location to accommodate their growing repair business for some time when their real estate agent Kristie Bauder of Iron Valley Real Estate of the Lehigh Valley informed them that the former diner was on the market.
“Because we were doing well in our first location, we wanted to expand our services to Forks Township,” Fiore said.
Fiore and Elsamra opened their first auto repair shop, Wrenchtec at 20 E. Lawn Road in Nazareth, four years ago. It has 4 bays. Its mechanics do everything from maintenance to automotive repairs and specialty part installations.
Lehigh Financial Group helped the partners secure financing for their first business venture and the partners knew the team at LFG would be ideal to help them with financing for their expansion.
The partners hope to complete the construction and open the new shop by early spring.
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