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Irie’s Island Food!

Success Story: Del Mar College SBDC –

Irie's Island FoodNicole Horton and Martin Frannea, owners of Irie’s Island Food in Port Aransas, Texas, were getting ready to expand their business to a larger location as part of a 3-year recovery plan following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. Then COVID-19 happened.

Prioritizing employee and customer safety, Irie’s Island Food closed its doors for nearly three months, even after limited service was permitted in Texas. When they did reopen, they experienced an overwhelming surge of vacationing customers. To keep everyone safe, they again closed the interior restaurant and offered outside and curbside service only, until they could safely re-open. Through the rest of 2020, and with much commitment and sacrifice, Nicole and Martin continued to focus on the safety of their employees and customers and keeping the business going. In January, 2021, they were able to relocate to their new, larger location, and double their workforce.

Martin and Nicole had experience with disasters and accessing disaster assistance, but this was an unprecedented situation, complicated by the fact their original building was rendered no longer suitable as a permanent location as a result of hurricane damage. Their landlords had already begun work on their new location before the pandemic arrived.

They reached out to the Del Mar College SBDC for assistance in navigating the various and changing disaster assistance programs that would aid in moving toward safely reopening their business, retaining jobs, relocating, and creating new jobs. Del Mar College SBDC Business Advisor Darcy Shaw assisted them with the SBA EIDL application, reviewing PPP requirements, fielding regulatory and loan agreement questions for their relocation, and providing research and updates as programs… Click To Tweet

Through their own careful planning, working with their SBDC Advisor and their CPA, having a great team of employees and a resilient community, Irie’s Island Food was able to bridge the gap. Accessing the SBA EIDL and PPP financial resources made it possible for them to keep jobs and dollars in the community through the pandemic. They were able to reopen, bring back 11 employees and add 10 more, move to their new location, and continue to bring their unique and acclaimed menu (Ranked #53 in the USA on Yelp, 2017) to residents and visitors in Port Aransas.

“Darcy Shaw and the SBDC have helped us on numerous occasions navigate disaster assistance applications, regulations, and guidelines. Darcy has also assisted us in taking advantage of other business counseling services and other resources offered by the SBA. I’m not sure if we could have made it through these troubling times without her.”

To learn more about Irie’s Island Food, visit, and for more about the Del Mar College SBDC, visit To find your nearest SBDC, click here.

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