Two Businesses Thrive Downtown

Two 30-Somethings Thrive Downtown
By Jack Spillane
December 08, 2008

The most successful entrepreneurs in downtown New Bedford over the last decade are two 30-something guys who come to work wearing T-shirts.
Jeff Goggin and Craig Paiva, the respective owners of the Green Bean coffee shop and No Problemo taqueria, have found both money and fulfillment where others have often found frustration or delay.
Bop into the upbeat, contemporary art atmosphere of the Green Bean, or the funky, Day of the Dead decor of the dining room/bar at No Problemo, and you’re immediately transported by young energy.
That energy, however, is channeled by business savvy.
Jeff and Craig, however, will tell you only that their success is mostly a matter of marching to their own drummers.
“Me and my buddies have always took pride in where we’re from,” said Craig, who  like Jeff, grew up in the area. “When it came time to figure out a career, I had always said a Mexican place would be awesome downtown.”
Craig had fallen in love with the skateboarding/taco stand culture after living in California for a while, so he decided he’d create the same kind of stuff in New Bedford.
For Jeff, he just thought his friends and the local UMass crowd would like a cool place to go for good coffee. But the immediate popularity of his brew shop quickly pushed him into expanding into sandwiches, and then breakfast on weekends.
“It’s more of a social thing,” Jeff says of the Green Bean. “Rather than ‘Where are you gonna get the best Eggs Benedict?’ or something.”
But the hip, downtown spots operated by Jeff Goggin and Craig Paiva have long ago transcended their popularity with the UMass design and skateboard crowds. They’re now THE places to go in the city for good coffee, sandwiches or a light lunch or dinner.
Green Bean has expanded and moved to bigger quarters in the half-decade since it opened and Jeff Goggin recently started a second restaurant, Brick Pizzeria Napolitana (a little hole-in-the-wall on Union Street with a wood-fired oven that serves up fresh, Naples-style pizza in two minutes.)
The 31-year-old also is partnering with another young friend, Devin Byrnes, in Destination Soups, located in the same small shop on Union Street where Green Bean originally started.
Over at No Problemo, the 32-year-old Craig Paiva has expanded twice in his six years in business, first adding a dining room, and this year, a bar.
As with Jeff, the business was created because Craig wanted the city to have the kind of place he and his friends would enjoy.
“I wanted to have a bar where, like basically skateboard kids and those kind of people, like to hang out,” he said.
But to Craig’s surprise, even some oldsters enjoy his bar and restaurant, and the mariachi band nights he’s been running the last Saturday of every month have started drawing a diverse crowd.
So how did the young Mr. Goggin and the young Mr. Paiva do it?
Neither one of them went to business school, neither one of them took out big loans to start, and neither one of them created their shops by some paint-by-numbers dining plan.
“The first thing you do is, don’t take out a giant loan. That’s step one,” Jeff said. “Don’t take out a huge loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sell a three dollar product.
“Start with $10,000 and if you say that’s not enough, then you don’t have a good business plan for downtown New Bedford.”
Sounds like a guy who knew his market.
“We only sold coffee to start,” Jeff explained. “We added three sandwiches to the menu when Ernie’s (a full-scale lunch spot) went out of business.”
For Craig Paiva at No Problemo, it was also about doing things on his own, and keeping it simple.
“Me and my buddies did it ourselves. We did all the contracting. I sanded the floors down and stuff. My friend redid them and built the bar out.”
He didn’t worry about putting an expensive front on his establishment, Craig said.
“We bought cheap equipment, chairs and stuff like that.”
The upgrades came later, after the stand was a success, he said.
Jeff Goggin and Craig Paiva. Two young local guys who have figured out a way to make the enigmatic downtown New Bedford their own oyster.
And if you’ve looked closely, there are any number of other city originals starting to do the same.
Contact Jack Spillane
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