Cubana Waterloo Ltd are raising a £200,000 loan on leading crowdfunding platform Crowd2Fund, in order to expand their Latin American street food and exotic Cuban cocktails concept.

The restaurant chain initially raised over £100,000 in July and returned to the platform in November due to unprecedented demand from a loyal and eager crowd.

The restaurant group was started in 1998 by Phillip Oppenheim, who was inspired to create his own Cuban themed restaurant after visiting the country in the early nineties and discovering mojitos, the magic of the people and the beauty of the island. Back then the Latin American culture was much lesser known in the UK, and Oppenheim realised that the food, drink, culture and history of the country would make for a compelling st ory.

Cubana serves up freshly prepared free-range street food dishes, Cuban mountain coffee and a range of refreshing cocktails. The group is credited as first having introduced mojitos to the UK in the 90s, and has since sold close to one million of them .

Oppenheimer’s family are farmers, and prior to going to university he helped out by working on the farm. This experience resulted in him becoming a lifelong campaigner against factory farming, which now extends to Cubana’s ethos of having a procurement policy focussed on ethical sourcing and a 100% free range policy.

The original Cubana site is in Waterloo, with the second site in Smithfield having opened in 2014. The company now turns over more than £2 million pounds per year, a close to double digi t percentage increase year on year.

The crowdfunds will be used to ramp up the activity of Cubana by investing them into new operational software and doubling down on marketing efforts to take advantage of the predicted increased footfall of the Smithfie ld site when Crossrail and the relocated Museum of London open.

Philip Oppenheim says: “We are spending some funds on developing the Cubana bakery and coffee roaster at Smithfield, which we anticipate will have substantially more passing trade due to new economic activity in the area. We are also completely revamping all of our financial systems and EPOS to make sure we are robustly managed and ready to cautiously look for new sites next year.”

Additional associated planned activity includes the launch of a new website, alongside enhancing the company’s digital marketing efforts.

Over the longer term Cubana plan to steadily increase their number of sites, alongside maintaining their firm ethical stance on only sourcing free range produce.

“In five years I would like a small chain of Cubana bar restaurants which keep to our core principles of providing freshly prepared, authentic Cuban and Latin American food and fresh tropical cocktails and smoothies at reasonable prices. I would not want to be invo lved in a large corporate chain which prepares all of its food in large factories. A lot of once good places have retracted from their sustainability roots. The day someone says to me that we can save £1 a portion by not going for free range chicken is the day we have grown too large,” said Oppenheim.

The company sought Crowd2Fund’s loan product as a financing solution due to not wanting to sell equity in the business and wanting to utilise a more creative solution than traditional banks which are not lend ing to banks at the moment. The loan will be payable at an estimated APR of 10%.

Oppenheim said: “We dipped a toe in the water in July during the first campaign and were hugely impressed with the results and interest from investors. We now see Crowd2Fund as a great platform for the future”.