High school sweethearts Keith and Nancy Kouris recall that, all their lives, people doubted their plans. That didn’t stop them from getting married, buying a local bread route and eventually purchasing the shuttered bakery that became the Blue Duck Bakery Café. Established by Keith and Nancy in 1999 in Southampton, NY, Blue Duck is a popular maker, retailer and wholesaler of artisan breads, cakes, cookies, pies and pastries.
The couple’s commitment to fresh ingredients and quality products quickly won over the residents of their Long Island community. Blue Duck’s success prompted Keith and Nancy to open a second store in Southold in 2008 and, more recently, a third store in the historically depressed but rapidly growing community of Riverhead. Soon after committing to the Riverhead project, the couple learned that their bank couldn’t provide the funding they needed.
The husband-and-wife team was referred to the Community Development Corporation (CDC) of Long Island, a community development financial institution or CDFI. CDFIs like them pool capital from public and private sources in order to finance projects that create social impact in local communities. Bank of America is the leading provider of capital to CDFIs. In addition to giving the CDC of Long Island a capital grant, the bank provided debt capital for affordable housing programs and disaster relief capital following Hurricane Sandy.
Keith and Nancy submitted an application to the CDC and received approval within three weeks. The Riverhead location of their Blue Duck Bakery Café was financed with a microloan made possible by Bank of America’s capital grant to the CDC of Long Island. The connection to this funding source made the couple’s dream of a third store possible.
Bank of America is proud to support CDFIs, because they support small businesses like Blue Duck that are critical to communities, said Amy Brusiloff. She noted that small businesses not only create jobs, but they also help to revitalize neighborhoods. That has certainly been the case in Riverhead. The success of the Blue Duck location there has encouraged other businesses to take root. In fact, since their store opened, four or five other stores have followed suit, transforming the area into a more vibrant and family-oriented community.