What do you get when you mix the joy of cooking with the love for entertaining, and add in a dash of community care? It’s Kay Catering, owned and operated by Kay Kim. Kim’s contemporary Korean specialties are served up at special events, dinner parties, school lunchrooms and workplaces throughout the Seattle area. “At home, I would cook and entertain guests every weekend. It’s just my passion,” says Kim. Kim turned her love into a business venture in 2012, and through her delicious creations, magnetic personality and customer word of mouth, has grown Kay Catering into a thriving catering enterprise.
Running her catering business out of a commissary kitchen posed limitations of space, equipment and time for Kim. “I might get an order for 800 meals and having a shared kitchen available only a few days a week made it nearly impossible,” says Kim. She sought to rent her own kitchen space and acquire the right tools and kitchen appliances. Adds Kim, “Cooking for my own guests at home was no pressure, but as a business it’s about service and meeting customer needs and expectations one hundred percent.” Kim brought her challenge to her neighborhood KeyBank branch.
“If it wasn’t for my bankers at KeyBank, I would be in a different place – literally! They really re-sparked my dreams of ownership.” – Kay Kim, Owner, Kay Catering
Kim’s personal banker at KeyBank was on vacation when she called for advice. That’s when the branch manager stepped in, listened to Kim’s story and quickly connected her with a KeyBank Business Banking Relationship Manager and an SBA Specialist. The KeyBank team did the math and showed Kay she could actually own a building and equip it for the same monthly outlay as renting. Owning a building was a dream of Kim’s, but to see it become a reality still came as a surprise.
The KeyBank team guided Kim through the SBA-504 loan process, which afforded her longer fixed-rate terms and lowered her down payment requirement. The specialized small business loan also allowed her to put money towards remodeling and equipment, while maintaining working capital. Everything was combined into her affordable monthly payment.
Kim’s loan was approved right as the pandemic hit. The KeyBank team also helped her to benefit from the 2020 CARES Act, which covered six months of her principal payments.
Now in her own building, Kim can take care of more clients and cater more events. But what makes Kim’s day is being able to use her new space to give back to her community. “Just last week, we let a neighboring church use our kitchen to make sandwiches for the homeless,” remarks Kim. Kim believes her food service business is about becoming rich not through money but through the people you meet and serve. Kim sums it up: “Caring for small businesses is KeyBank’s way of giving back to the community. Being able to extend that kind of care to people in need multiplies the effect.”