Hi-Fi Cafe owners seek $30,000 from public for upgrade, move to new Asheville location


Aaron Gibbs and Katie Baird, the owners of Hi-Fi Cafe, have launched a crowd-funding campaign to fund their move and set-up in a new location. The two said recently that they were unceremoniously forced out of their current home in the building that houses that Downtown Market on South French Broad Avenue.

Here’s part of their pitch. Click over to read the full story:

After carving out our spot in the Downtown Market at 45 S. French Broad Ave. for over three years, the time has come to move out and move on. Serious changes are in motion after the sale of the building, and we have a potential new spot –still in the neighborhood– that we’d like to transition into. In order to stay in business, we need to raise money to move, upgrade equipment, and transform a former office space into a new home for our kitchen and customers!

Our little restaurant began with the purpose of providing outrageously cheap and ridiculously delicious food for Asheville folk. We’re a tried and true locals’ spot. We’ve stuck to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and proven its success. As all of our regulars know, we’ve done specactular things with severely limited equipment and space. A new location with greater visibility means more traffic, which leads to the necessity of upgrading certain peices of equipment to handle the demands of higher volume. (We want an espresso machine that doesn’t need to be fixed all the time!)

With this move, we will finally have the opportunity to refine what we have built and tested over time. We’d like to add housemade sodas to our concept, and offer more sweets and baked goodies to accompany our coffee. We plan to trim down the food menu and keep the chicken salad sandwich and pizza as the flagship items. (We know y’all would riot in the streets if we took either of those away!!) With a shift in focus toward the beverage side, we’ll simplify our long list of prep work and have an easier time training employees. (Yes, more than one!)


Rick April 19, 2014 - 2:06 pm

The lady in the photo looks beautiful. I love women with black hair and glasses!

SuckItMcGee April 16, 2014 - 11:51 am

I’m sure a number of banks would be glad to LOAN you the money you need.

Also, I have a fantastic invention that will drastically lighten your wallet. I can mock up a prototype, but only if you participate in my kickstarter campaign asking for 1 billion dollars. Progress isn’t cheap ya know!

Gordon H April 16, 2014 - 2:26 pm

Dear SuckIt,
It is called an investment, you dumb ass. You invest in companies you think might succeed and you take the risk that maybe it will and maybe it wont. You loose if it doesn’t succeed and you win if it does. Just like the stock market, nothing is guaranteed. The difference with kickstart/gofundme sites is you actually dont loose anything, you win every time. If you weren’t so dumb you would know a bank will NOT loan any money to start a new business, you have to be creative if you don’t have rich relatives, which obviously you must have, or are you just sitting on your ass drawing unemployment since you have time to write nasty stuff on the interwebs!

SuckItMcGee April 16, 2014 - 7:22 pm

Haha, I ate my crow below, but I’ll respond anyway..

Banks don’t loan money to businesses? That would be news to me. My concern with crowd funding private businesses is that you normally aren’t ‘investing’ in the company, because you do not gain a piece of that business. Now if they were asking for $30,000 for a 5 or 10% stake in the business, THAT is what I would call a reasonable investment (hypothetically, as I have no idea what Hi-Fi would be worth). That being said, they are in fact giving ‘investors’ a return in the form of gift certificates/swag which I should’ve known before I commented.

Grammar police April 17, 2014 - 1:42 pm

loose [lOOs] adj not fastened or pre-packed; not tied up or confined; able to move freely; not tight, not firmly fixed; not close-fitting; careless, inaccurate, vague; dissolute, immoral; not closely woven

lose (p/t and p/part lost) [lOOz] v/t and i no longer have; be deprived of by accident or misfortune; mislay, fail to find;

roo April 16, 2014 - 5:27 pm

In point of fact, a bank would never lend them the money. There was a kerfuffle about the County Commission getting behind microloans, with (mainly conservative types who’ve never done anything like start a business) saying, “banks should do this.”

Banks don’t handle small business loans. Banks don’t handle loans with “differentiated” collateral. I suspect most folks think it’s easy to get a $20K loan because, by gosh, they got a car loan that size.

The bank made the car loan because they can take the car back and sell it in 24-48 hours if you default. A bank can’t repo and unload restaurant equipment and gift shop inventory quickly, so there’s no loans to be had.

This kind of fundamental lack of knowledge about how the private sector works is at the heart of every conservative critique of what government does and should be doing.

SuckItMcGee April 16, 2014 - 7:29 pm

Is the situation the same for a business that has shown proven success over a number of years in the local market? I could understand Joe Schmo not being able to walk into Wells Fargo looking for 250k to start a gastropub, but my understanding of this couple is that they are well-liked in the community and would be able to walk into a local bank and woo them into a decent loan.

And since you mentioned it twice, I am in fact NOT a conservative.

Smytty April 17, 2014 - 12:04 pm

Haven’t you heard the saying that banks only will loan to people who don’t need it?

That’s why organizations like Mountain Biz Works and other CDFIs exist – they fill the gaps for small businesses by lending to “riskier” borrowers.

Banks won’t touch start-ups, small businesses, anyone without piles of money in the bank, great credit, and lots of collateral. In other words, not many folks here in our fair town of Asheville.

I applaud people who are able to come up with unique funding sources and make it work. If you don’t like the concept, don’t give them money. If it’s something that seems promising and you have a few dollars, kick it their way and be a part of something fun.

indy April 17, 2014 - 2:52 pm

It was alleged at the county commission meeting , that loans like those made by Mountain Biz Works, feature an interest rate of 7.5-11% and the default rate is under 2%.

I find it hard to believe that banker’s wouldn’t take that deal in a second.

smytty April 18, 2014 - 6:45 am

Clearly they don’t or there wouldn’t be a demand for Mountain Biz.

Anyway, my point is that banks are being extremely tight about who they lend to and that if people can find alternative ways to launch a business why whine about it?

indy April 16, 2014 - 11:01 am

These appeals for essentially charitable contributions to a for profit business have become tiresome.

chris April 16, 2014 - 12:56 pm

As have your endless complaints about said appeals.

chris April 16, 2014 - 1:04 pm

BTW, did you even look at the page? I’m guessing not. You contribute $25, you get a $25 gift certificate. $50, you get a $50 gift certificate. They’re asking for some money up front to help with their move, and in return, you get gift certificates to their restaurant equal to the value of your contribution. And the rewards are even more substantial for higher donations.

That’s pretty damn reasonable, I’d say. And it’s useful to those who like the restaurant and want it to succeed.

But perhaps you have some more complaining to do…

Gordon H April 16, 2014 - 2:26 pm

well done Chris, you are right.

SuckItMcGee April 16, 2014 - 3:38 pm

Maybe I should’ve looked at the page myself as well, that is pretty reasonable compared to what I’ve seen in the past.

/snark redacted

indy April 17, 2014 - 2:12 pm

Would work out ok, if they actually open and you can use the certificate. I’m all for freedom my man. Feel free to give them as much as you want, with or without a return.

Hi-Fi Cafe April 17, 2014 - 5:24 pm

And if we don’t open all of the money will be refunded. We are not planning on just taking what people pledge and running off if we don’t reach the goal. Also, we have a couple other avenues we are pursuing in case this doesn’t generate enough but it would be totally awesome if we can basically get a bunch of pre orders for our stuff !! Either way and no matter what we should be able to continue on our way and keep providing this wonderful town with our fantastic food and coffee so everyone who want can enjoy a bit of amazing!!

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