Home Madrid Economy Olga Loizon, founder of Olga’s Kitchen, was the first woman to get a loan from her local bank

Olga Loizon, founder of Olga’s Kitchen, was the first woman to get a loan from her local bank


When did you sell your first sandwich?

The gyroscope machine was in the basement, it was driving me crazy. In 1965 we lived next door to an artist in downtown Birmingham who was holding an art fair on Park Street. He needed someone to provide the food, so I volunteered. My children and I have temporarily moved to the driveway, and this is the first time the machine has been used. We sold our first sandwich for 75 cents. That first day, we made $13. I kept telling people, “try it, you’ll like it. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay for it.” Then that was it. I was inside. People were coming back. That proved to me that it was a success.

How did you open your first establishment?

I was going to walk to the Continental Market and I thought, “I’ll get the money, and it’s going to happen.” I walked down an alley and saw a woman who had a clothing store renting her space. I said to myself: “Olga, that’s it. I asked her the question and she took me to meet the owner of the market. I told him I wanted to rent the space and open a little homemade Greek sandwich shop. I will never forget his secretary. She was listening to our conversation and she said, “That sounds terrible, you’ll never make any money.” I said, “It’s up to me, not you.” The owner and I made arrangements to rent the space. He said I could start right away and they needed someone like me in the market. I turned to the secretary on my way out and said, “You’re going to love this.

How did you fund the business?

I had asked my husband for the money, but he said, “Do you know how many tickets we have, Olga?” The next day I went to my local bank, Detroit Bank and Trust, and asked for a loan. Initially, Mrs. Kelly (a bank teller who knew the Loizon family) told me I needed to get my husband to co-sign, but he said he didn’t want to get involved. When I got emotional and explained the situation to Ms. Kelly, she gave me the $3,000 loan. I was the first woman to get a loan from my local bank.