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  • Will Juntunen

Getting The Old Route 66 Family Restaurant through the Reset

Maria Ahmedi was one of the first clients to get in touch with the IL SBDC at the Starved Rock Country Alliance. Her world renowned restaurant, the Old Route 66 Family Restaurant is a regular attraction to locals, national, and international travelers who are on their Historic Old Route 66 roadtrip adventure. The restaurant opened originally in 1977 by Bill Starks. Maria Ahmedi purchased the restaurant in 2001 and has operated it since with her husband and entire family. Maria comes from a lively family of restaurant owners. Maria's father Jim Jashari, owned and operated Spring Valley Family Restaurant, The Seneca Family Restaurant. Previously, Maria had operated The Wishing Well Cafe in Odell for 10 years. The Old Route 66 Family Restaurant bases their menu on Maria's father's 1977 recipes.

Maria was referred to the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Starved Rock Center by Debra Karch of the Dwight Economic Alliance. The Illinois SBDC at the Starved Rock Country Alliance assisted Maria in identifying loans and grants The Old Route 66 restaurant might leverage to survive the impact of the restaurant's Covid-19 shutdown. She began by speaking with Executive Director Amy Lambert, who provided an overview and then was directed to the SBDC's Financial Subject Matter Expert, TJ Templeton, for a more in-depth discussion of how to apply the funding. “I want to thank Deb Karch from the DEA in referring me to Executive Director, Amy Lambert from the SBDC. Amy has been a key asset in assisting me with all my questions and concerns and helping me get the critical funds to continue our family business for many years to come. “ Maria was able to tap into both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Payroll Protection Program to receive much needed funding. Through this, the Old Route 66 Restaurant will be back in business once the shutdown lifts, looking better than ever.

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