Mike Camorlinga, owner of Lulu’s Restaurant and Sports Bar
The South Valley BusinessSource Center (BSC) recently helped Mike Camorlinga, owner of Lulu’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, obtain COVID-19 financial relief to retain 20 jobs and keep the 44-year-old establishment open. Lulu's Restaurant and Sports Bar is has been welcoming and serving customers in the San Fernando Valley since 1976.

In 2012, Mike, a general manager who started at the restaurant as a busboy and later was promoted to cook, was presented with the opportunity to achieve his life-long dream of purchasing the restaurant. Mike’s siblings are also managers in the restaurant.

“We had online sales but it did not make too much sense to keep operating with such a high overhead and sales plummeting to a terrifying 40 percent of our average monthly sales.”

Mike lists his biggest accomplishment as being able to provide employment to 33 different families, even during the challenging times that the pandemic has brought upon his business. “My staff is what has kept me motivated and has given me hope to keep operating and pushing through these difficult times.”

When the Safer at Home orders went into effect in March 2020, Mike thought that the lockdown would only be for a short period and he was confident that it would not affect his business. As months passed, Mike considered shutting down the restaurant.

Mike was able to obtain funds from the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but even then, it was not enough to fully keep the doors open. In early 2021, Mike found himself in the same position of considering closing his restaurant after exhausting all his COVID relief funding options. This is when Mike reached out to Ruth Aguilera, a Business Service Manager at the West Valley Worksource Center for COVID-19 financial resources.

Ruth referred Mike to Luis Luna, Program Manager and Financial Advisor at the South Valley BusinessSource Center. Luis met virtually with Mike and informed him about the SBA Restaurant Revitalization Grant, which launched in early May. Luis assisted Mike with loan preparation assistance such as gathering required business financial documentation, profit and loss statements, business tax returns and business bank statements.

As soon as the online platform opened on May 2nd, Luis and Mike met virtually to successfully complete and submit the Restaurant Revitalization Grant application. A few weeks later, Lulu's Restaurant received the grant funding that saved 16 full-time positions and four part-time employee positions. Since then, Luis and Mike have continued to meet to discuss the post-COVID rebuilding phase, which includes strategizing ways to attract customers back to the restaurant, purchasing the restaurant building under the SBA 504 Loan, and possibly expanding to a second Lulu's Restaurant location.

“Every single year since I took ownership has been very rewarding, especially with being able to work with such great people who enjoy coming to work every single day,” Mike said.

Lulu’s is located in LA City Council District 6.

EWDD’s BusinessSource and WorkSource Centers offer a variety of Business Services, including several Financial Programs and Development Incentives for businesses of all sizes. Learn how EWDD can help.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of July 12, 2021. Read this issue and more.