South Florida restaurant chain scores $40M in EB-5 funds

The money is allowing the VooDoo BBQ chain to expand quickly
September 10, 2014 03:00PM

Joe Sloboda, partner at Jafrejo Holdings LLC and Florida Restaurant Franchise Group (credit: Melanie Bell)

The owners of Florida franchise restaurant VooDoo BBQ & Grill have raised $40 million from investors in 12 countries through the EB-5 visa program.

The restaurant is using those funds to open locations in Miami, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Pensacola.

“We’re not where we were in ’04 or ’05 when anybody could get a loan, but the appetite from financial institutions is increasing,” Israel Alfonso, a Miami partner in Akerman, whose annual real estate survey measures economic conditions and investor confidence, told the Daily Business Review.

To score the finances, Jafrejo Holdings LLC, the chain’s Florida franchisee, sent partners abroad, spending about $150,000 on travel.

“The big misconception is people think this is easy to get. It’s cheap money, but it’s not easy to get. It’s challenging, and you have to make sure you connect to people who qualify and can show the U.S. government that the money they’re investing came from legal sources,” Jafrejo partner Joe Sloboda said. “The biggest part is making sure you’re working with people who fully understand the EB-5 rules and can package your deals in a way that will be approved by the U.S. government and still be accessible to investors. There’s a delicate balance.” [Daily Business Review]Christopher Cameron