Saving Friend’s Tavern — a second home for Queens’ Latinx LGBTQ+ community 

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Steven Garibell is vice president of LGBTQ2+ Business Development at TD Bank.
TD Bank

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COVID-19 had many health impacts, including on the health of small business finances. Even in good times it can be difficult to get a small business loan through some lenders, so working with a team that understands unique financial circumstances is key. 

As TD Bank’s LGBTQ2+ business development officer, I get to know business owners and tailor products for them. One recent example is the story of Eddie Valentin.

In March 2020, Valentin was ill with COVID when he learned the building that houses his business, Friend’s Tavern, was for sale. Friend’s is the oldest Queens gay bar and community hub for the Latinx queer scene.

Throughout the pandemic, Valentin modified operations and kept the doors open. “Friend’s is like a community center that never closes,” he said.

After the building’s owner finally agreed to sell to Valentin, he encountered another obstacle: his bank of 30 years said they wouldn’t provide a loan because of 2020 revenue losses — losses that many businesses experienced. He quickly used his community connections, and the Queens Chamber of Commerce referred him to TD’s LGBTQ2+ program. 

After learning more about Valentin’s business goals, we secured a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan for the property purchase. These loans can be a good fit for owners who are looking for greater flexibility in loan terms. 

Valentin said he is stopped on the street by patrons who are relieved his bar is staying open. Like many small businesses, Friend’s is relationship-driven, and a bank that treats Friend’s like a relationship instead of numbers will help it remain a hub for years to come.

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