A man wearing a mask in front of a restaurant.

SomerCor Serves La Peña Restaurante with a SBIF Grant & 504 Refi

Company Profile

In 2001, La Peña Restaurante opened its doors in Portage Park, serving traditional Ecuadorian food. The phrase “La Peña,” means a place where people have different choices – food, drinks, live music, poetry and dance – all at the same time. It also means a place for gatherings. Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19 and the resulting mitigation policies, La Peña owner, Jaime Castillo, has forged ahead by accessing two products through SomerCor to support the restaurant and plan for the future.

SBIF Grant Impact (Portage Park)

Castillo applied for the SBIF grant to improve the overall appearance of the restaurant. 

“Because of the SBIF grant, we were able to rebuild the façade of the building, install new storefront bifold windows, add a new glass entrance,” said Castillo.  “All of this allowed for the improvement and growth of the restaurant’s reputation/image and customer service, and in turn giving us the ability to employ more people and give back to the community.”

Besides the exterior improvements, grant funds were used for HVAC system improvements on this project.

SBA 504 Refi Impact

In addition to administering the SBIF grant for the city of Chicago, SomerCor is an SBA certified small business lender. Because Castillo is both the property owner and operator of La Peña, he was eligible to work with SomerCor to take advantage of the SBA 504 Refi program. By refinancing his previous commercial real estate loan with the 504, his monthly mortgage payments were nearly cut in half! These savings, along with the SBIF improvements, and expected post-pandemic economic growth, project the creation of three more jobs at the restaurant. To learn more about the 504 program and if it is a fit for your business, checkout this information sheet and contact a member of our loan origination team. 


La Peña Restaurante is Open for Business!

La Peña Restaurante continues to operate under appropriate COVID-19 protocols. Visit http://www.lapenachicago.com/ for hours, specials, and events.

Learn More About the Small Business Improvement Fund

Launched in 1999, Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund promotes economic development by providing reimbursable grants for permanent building improvement. Residential projects are not eligible.

SomerCor is the program administrator contracted by the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Learn more about the program and apply by visiting www.somercor.com/sbif.

Contact Us

A woman with glasses is smiling for the camera.

Margaret Griffin

EVP, Chief Lending Officer
(312) 360-3320

A man in a suit and tie standing outside.

Eric Bacon

A man in suit and tie smiling for the camera.

Darin Gehrke

SVP Market Lead for Central and Southern Illinois
(217) 793-1075

A woman with blonde hair wearing a black jacket.

Elisabeth Williams