When Peter Kreuziger first stepped foot into the building that would become Bon Appétit, his first restaurant, he wanted to turn right back around. “The place was so dilapidated,” Peter said.
His business partner, Karl Heinz Riedl, could see the potential, though, and they bought the property. That was 45 years ago.
Together, Peter and Karl, through the Bon Appétit Group, now also own another restaurant in Dunedin (Café Alfresco), about 25 storefronts, and the wedding venues, snack bars and restaurants on Honeymoon and Caladesi Islands. They employ more than 250 people.
Unfortunately, every business Peter and Karl own was dramatically affected by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. In March, they had to shut everything down and lay off more than 200 people.
But on May 4, they reopened, with the help of the federal Paycheck Protection Program and Achieva Credit Union.
Since they bought that first building in Dunedin, Peter and Karl had banked with the same big bank. But when loans became available through the Paycheck Protection Program, the bank said they couldn’t help. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’” Peter said. “’How many other clients do you have with a history of 45 years with you?’”
A contact at the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce recommended Achieva. The next day, the company’s controller connected with a representative from Achieva, and they quickly submitted their application for PPP funds. “The next call I got was someone saying, ‘You’ve been approved, come pick up your money,’” Peter said.
After that, he moved all of his business accounts to Achieva. “It really is different from a bank,” he said. “The attitude and everything from Achieva is different — the people are so sincere and accommodating.”
Whatever comes next in 2021, Peter and Karl are ready - they know their business is essential in its own way. “We are in the ‘happy’ business,” Peter said. “What we do every day is we make people happy. Dinner for two, a wedding reception. Anything that makes people feel good.”