When Mr. Flechner purchased the rights to the VooDoo Florida franchise in 2011 he thought he’d have little issue with financing its construction. After all Flechner was already a successful Restaurateur and he knew where to go for financing. At least he thought he did. Over the following year he had little luck in finding individuals or banks willing to finance his investment plan due to the economic crunch.
Having exhausted all conventional options Mr. Flechner learned of the Immigrant Investor Program, commonly known as EB-5. Administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) it allows foreign investors to earn a green card for themselves and their family for a minimum investment of $500,000 in a U.S. business that creates at least 10 new jobs.
To insure the best result Mr. Flechner worked with Exclusive Visas (EV), a Weston Florida, based EB-5 consultancy. The 30-million-dollar plan was developed and submitted to USCIS and under EV’ s supervision the project was approved in only 6 months.
Upon approval the EV team began shopping the project to international investors in China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Venezuela, Canada, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Norway and within a few months Phase l of the project was fully funded.
VooDoo BBQ and Grill is a successful New Orleans-based barbecue chain operating under the Palm Beach Regional Center. The project is expected to create 175 permanent full-time jobs per each of its six phases — 75% more jobs than required for green card approval (at 17.5 jobs per investor).
Phase I sold out its 10 EB-5 investor positions to construct the first four units in short order. Phase II is currently being offered to fund the next four units in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach with another quick sellout expected. Four more phases are planned over the next five years. “This program is giving me the ability to open a lot of stores and employ a lot of people in Florida,” Mr. Flechner said.
“Being recognized by a publication as prestigious as Inc. is very gratifying but it is our investors who have placed their confidence in the project and our customers who keep coming back because they love our food that truly excites us,” he added.