Louisiana Creole Gumbo

Detroit, Michigan

Story Overview

Joe Spencer sees himself as a steward, entrusted with one of Detroit’s best-kept secret recipes. His restaurant – Louisiana Creole Gumbo – is a culinary institution in the city, serving authentic Louisiana Creole-style food since the 1970s.

But when COVID-19 hit and the restaurant’s two locations closed for months, Spencer and his business partners didn’t know whether Louisiana Creole Gumbo would survive the pandemic. After a half-century of bringing Detroiters a taste of southern cooking, the restaurant was in danger of shuttering for good.

While the restaurants remained closed, Spencer reached out to his business bank for a PPP loan. After realizing that high demand was overwhelming the bank, Spencer remembered his connection to Goldman Sachs: he was part of the Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program and had remained in touch with his instructors.

Through Goldman Sachs, Louisiana Creole Gumbo came to CRF seeking a PPP loan. After receiving a PPP loan, Spencer prepared for re-opening once Michigan’s governor gave the “all clear.” The PPP loan helped Spencer re-hire employees and pay for a top-to-bottom cleaning of both restaurants.

The PPP funds had a significant impact on Louisiana Creole Gumbo, which re-opened in June to socially distant crowds of Detroiters who had been craving the restaurant’s famous gumbo. Once Spencer saw a line out the door, he knew that it would be the community – not just the PPP loan – that would inspire growth and hope for the future.

Having the PPP loan during our shutdown was essential. We had no income coming in and no ability to re-hire our employees. CRF helped us navigate the process quickly and set us up for a successful come-back once we re-opened.

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