Founded on Beach Street in 1996, the Daytona Diner has grown to be a Daytona Beach institution over the years. Owner Linda Toffolon has worked ceaselessly – 7:00am – 3:00pm six days a week, year after year – to make sure her customers have a choice of the best breakfasts and lunches in town.
But as is often the case with a small business, the voyage hasn’t always been a smooth one and Toffolon has had to navigate challenges of all kinds. Fortunately, she found assistance from the Daytona State College sub-center of the Florida SBDC at UCF when she needed it most.
It was in 2012 that the bad news came. The Harley Davidson dealership in the same building and next to the Diner on Beach Street – a source of many loyal customers over the years -- was not renewing its lease and closing its doors, which meant the Daytona Diner was losing its lease and needed to find a new home.
But where could Toffolon turn for help? She needed to find a new location with the right demographics and city services. Economic development incentives and financing arrangements were both going to be key considerations. And Toffolon was intent upon preserving the Daytona Diner’s unique, family-friendly personality and heritage as a memorable Daytona Beach restaurant destination.
It was at the Florida SBDC at Daytona State College where Toffolon found the expert consulting, business training seminars and market research tools she needed to successfully relocate and preserve the Daytona Diner’s special place in the community. Initially, she worked with the Florida SBDC in producing a business plan, creating a site selection plan and connecting with the city to determine what kind of economic development assistance it could provide.
After a number of false starts and failed negotiations, the new location at 2043 South Atlantic Avenue in Daytona Beach Shores was found. Now came the hard part: obtaining financing to make the move. Restaurants have a notoriously difficult time getting loans approved and this situation was going to be no different. That is when Van Canada, a consultant at the Florida SBDC at Daytona State and a former commercial banker, stepped in to help Toffolon put together a loan application.
Toffolon and Canada partnered to finalize the Daytona Diner business plan, obtain all necessary documents and put all the financial information in order. Soon enough they had a very strong loan package and the hunt for a lender began. Canada and the Florida SBDC were able to identify an interested lender and obtain a loan commitment and later the line of credit that was needed.
“Looking back, I risked everything to relocate and re-open Daytona Diner,” remarked Ms. Toffolon. “And there was stress beyond measure while it was going on. There were times when it felt like everything was falling apart. But Van Canada and the Florida SBDC were there for me every time I needed help. Today I am glad I took the risk and that the Daytona Diner remains a part of the Daytona community. But I know for a fact that I couldn’t have done it without the Florida SBDC at Daytona State."