Starting a restaurant is a risky undertaking, especially in competitive New York City.  But with a mentor's help, Jennifer and Jeremy Marshall were able to move from chef and wine steward to successful restaurant owners.

Since opening in February 1996, Aquagrill has earned more than 100 rave reviews, including a complimentary rating by the New York Times. Chef Marshall has been invited to appear on numerous television programs, including a CNN segment where he discussed the impact of SCORE's start-up business counseling and mentoring assistance.

My successes. 

After a warm welcome, Aquagrill has become a mainstay on the New York City restaurant scene. The restaurant continues to grow, both in popularity and reputation. The restaurant has also earned a number of well-deserved rankings, including the Zagat Guide's Top 30 Manhattan restaurants. "Zagat's rankings are particularly gratifying because they're based on consumer evaluations and comments," Jennifer explains. 

How SCORE helped. 

Mentor Tom Apperson helped the Marshalls weave the text and numbers of their ideas together to develop a comprehensive business plan. Then, he helped the Marshalls approach lenders for the $300,000 loan they needed to get started. "They had a terrific business plan, but needed help with the financial portion. They didn't know what steps to take to get funding," Apperson says.

"In fact, we were offered three different loans and consulted Tom about negotiating more favorable rates from the lender we chose," Jeremy says.

What's great about my mentor? 

"Tom helped us by relaying clear and concise direction with the packaging and preparation of our business plan," Jeremy says. "His guidance and direction on how to formulate a cash flow analysis, balance sheets and operating projection helped us present a sound business plan that would impress lenders."