Two start-up eateries in Billings have opened in recent months thanks to support from MoFi, and both offer cuisine unique to the region. Tup Tim Thai, a food truck run by husband and wife team Chris and Srisuda “Pookie” Williams, has been covering the Billings market at events since early summer 2019. The Ohana Poke Company, owned by Tyrell Crowell, brings the Hawaiian bowl food poke to a storefront at West Park Promenade on Grand Avenue. Ohana Poke opened for lunch and dinner service in the last week of August.
Neither business was able to get all the capital they needed to cover their start-up costs from a traditional bank. “A lot of it had to do with the fact that it’s a start-up, and it’s a restaurant,” said Tyrell. “They thought I had a good idea but it was the bottom of their list of what they wanted to lend to.”
“Our lender shared that MoFi has a lot of experience helping small businesses do start-ups,” said Chris. “The staff helped us work through the paperwork and figure out our numbers and everything.” Every MoFi borrower also receives free, comprehensive consulting services to help them build successful businesses.
Both Tup Tim Thai and The Ohana Poke Company are seeing an enthusiastic response from Billings-area diners. “We’re so excited with our start this summer and we can’t wait to really go big next year,” said Chris of the food truck’s first season. “People are loving our dishes, especially the drunken noodle. They’re always talking about it. We post our different locations on Facebook so we’re starting to develop a regular crowd that knows where to find us.”
On his first day open, Tyrell saw three times what he projected in food sales and a line out the door. “People seem really excited to have another fresh option in the fast casual setting,” he said.