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Hudson Valley News

Hudson Valley Investor Helps Local Restaurateur

Courtesy of Laura Pensiero

New funding will allow a restaurant group in New York to expand its healthy, locally sourced foods to a wider audience. A local investment fund based in Ulster County is issuing a loan to the local group in Dutchess County to make it possible.

Laura Pensiero owns Gigi Hudson Valley, a farm-to-table restaurant group which consists of Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck, Gigi Market & Café in Red Hook, and a catering business.

She says the market exists to expand the catering aspect of her business, but, until now, the capital did not.

So she took her business plan to Hudson River Ventures, a Kingston-based small business investment fund focused on the Hudson Valley.

Sean Eldridge, who founded Hudson River Ventures in 2011, agreed.

The $250,000, five-year loan, for starters, will allow Pensiero, a registered dietician, to purchase equipment and likely add three staffers to her catering lineup immediately – one culinary hire, one for sales, and one in operations. She then has hopes for additional hires after the initial expansion. The Mediterranean cookbook author says the loan from Hudson River Ventures came with an unexpected and welcome sidebar.

Eldridge, who is considering a run for Congress as a Democrat, says his investment fund links the farm-to-table trend with capital.

Pensiero says that when Gigi Hudson Valley grows, business for farms and farmers also grows.

She says it also means that area residents will be reminded that healthy food and flavorful food can be the one in the same.

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