Sweet V’s in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, is more than just a local eatery. It’s one man’s dream come true, and it’s turned into a family-run success. Mark Villagrana always wanted to run his own business, and when the opportunity presented itself to open Sweet V’s, he got his entire family to join the adventure with him. His vision came to life during the summer of 2019 when Mark, his wife, Allison Harder, and his sister, Michelle Donelson, opened a food truck business.
Today, they co-own and operate Sweet V’s, where they continue to serve the customer favorites they began with like gourmet cotton candy and shaved ice, and now offer ice cream, coffee, and daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
“This journey has been so much fun,” said Allison. “It’s brought our family closer together and has given us so many opportunities.”
About a year after opening, the proprietors decided to move their business to a brick-and-mortar location. Knowing the move would be expensive, they looked for financing options. After hearing about the Center for Rural Affairs through Twin City Development (western Nebraska’s economic development organization), they reached out to Anthony Gurrola, loan specialist with the Center.
Anthony offered guidance and helped them submit an application for the Center’s Express Loan. These loans are designed for new and returning borrowers with credit needs of $15,000 or less and are underwritten on a credit score and two personal bank statements allowing for fast decisions. The speedy timeline for this financing offers prequalification in 24 hours and a final decision within three business days after applications and documents are complete.
“Their business was booming during the summer, but with winter on their minds, they were looking for ways to keep their momentum going,” said Anthony. “The Center’s Express Loan supported Sweet V’s transition into a brick-and-mortar location, and while their newly added food items have quickly become a hit, they continue to offer the sweet treats their community has come to know and love, making their business the success it is today.”
The business owners also used some of the funds to buy their ice cream cabinet, coffee machine, and other equipment, and they saved some for potential unexpected future costs.
“Working with Anthony has been great,” said Allison. “He keeps in touch and also lets us know about things that could help us or checks in to make sure we’re doing okay. The whole experience was great, and the application process was so simple.”
Sweet V’s expansion increased customer traffic, which created a need for help and more employees. Allison said most of the people who work at Sweet V’s are family, and while they started off with just the owners they now employ about 15 people.
The proprietors know they can depend on the Center for further assistance, and already have plans to take advantage of some of its other resources, like the training courses regularly offered for small business owners.
“We plan to explore the Center’s other services when things start to calm down on our end,” said Allison. “We have hopes to expand in the next few years to add more dining space and possibly a bar to become more of a full-service restaurant.”