The Power of Sandwich Shops

January 28, 2013 Updated Jan 28, 2013 at 8:29 AM EDT

By Dan Miner, Business First

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January 28, 2013 Updated Jan 28, 2013 at 8:29 AM EDT

If you want to complete the uphill task of siting a charter school in the city of Buffalo, there are several challenges. One of those challenges is finding a suitable building. The other is convincing investors to help buy and renovate the building, given the uncertainty of charters that must be re-upped every five years.

Joy Pepper, executive director of Tapestry Charter School, was facing those issues in 2008, with her six-year-old school growing and in need of a permanent home, but things were looking bleak. Banks wanted no part of it.

The one day, she went to buy lunch for her staff at Chris NY Sandwich Co. on Delaware Avenue, and she ran into developer Carl Paladino and his son, Bill. She commenced her pitch and won them over. Ellicott Development, run by Carl Paladino, ended up financing the purchase of Tapestry's building on Great Arrow Avenue, just off Delaware, while previous owner Benderson Development got a big tax write-off, Pepper said.

And now Tapestry is humming - about 1,300 students applied for 245 openings last year from K-12. Eighty percent of its graduating seniors went on to college last year. It plans to build another gym, with a projected cost of $1 million, and it recently purchased an adjacent 7-acre parcel of land where it plans to develop athletic fields.

So if you're struggling to get traction for your idea, go buy a sandwich.

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