Pain D'Avignon III
The owners of Pain D’Avignon III have developed a strong reputation among food critics and those in the food industry as one of the best bakeries in New York City. The three self-taught bakers were born in what was formerly Yugoslavia and came to America following their high school graduation. Today, using only the highest quality ingredients, such as organic sugar, wildflower honey and sea salt, they prepare their breads according to a labor intensive traditional European recipe, cutting and shaping the dough by hand.
In 2011, when the 10-year lease on their building was nearing its end, Uliks Fehmiu, Teofil Zurovac and Branislav Stamenkovic approached the building’s owner to inquire about purchasing the building. Unable to work out an agreement that was right for them, the three friends and business partners began searching for a new location. Their goal was to ensure the continuity of the business and the continued employment of their 70 employees. They located a building occupied by a cookie bakery that was expected to be vacant in coming months. “We were lucky this property came on the market at the same time we were looking,” said Fehmiu.
Lizbeth Heller, Michael Armstrong and Hilda Kong, the lenders at JP Morgan Chase, recommended that Fehmiu, Zurovac and Stamenkovic pursue a 504 loan. “Everyone felt more comfortable going that route,” said Fehmiu. “We needed the SBA’s help in order to get this loan.”
Together with JP Morgan Chase, NYBDC Vice President Linda Zou helped put together a financing package that included a $1.225 million first mortgage from Chase and a $980,000 second mortgage from Empire State CDC.
“The SBA 504 Loan Program was ideal as it provided 90 percent financing for the purchase and renovation of their new building, which allowed them to preserve valuable working capital necessary for relocation and expansion of their business,” said Zou. “More than 20 new jobs were created as a result of this project and 70 jobs were retained. This project is a great example of how the SBA 504 Loan Program promotes job growth and economic development in the State of New York.”
Renovations included painting the entire interior, installing a new non-slip floor and constructing office space and employee break room, bathroom and locker room facilities. In addition, a new, higher-efficiency oven, two large mixers and a temperature and humidity controlled chamber for the fermentation process were purchased and installed. As a result, the owners were able to increase production levels by nearly 100 percent and hire additional employees.
“This was a big task, and not an easy project to undertake,” said Fehmiu. “Linda Zou was nothing but helpful and positive through the entire process. It was an amazing experience.”
Pain D’Avignon III produces croissants, baguettes, brioche and a variety of breads for some of the finest restaurants, hotels and retailers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. It began operating out of the new facility at the end of 2011, while still creating some products in the former location. In March 2012, operations were completely moved to the new location. In May 2012, Pain D’Avignon III opened its first retail store on the lower east side of Manhattan