When searching for a small business loan to grow her restaurant, Sforenia Robinson was referred to Communities Unlimited (CU) for a Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Loan. As it turns out, that was just what “Lady” ordered.

There are two things that Sforenia Robinson is known for in McGehee, Arkansas—her nickname “Lady” and her famous cooking. As far back as she can remember, Lady has loved cooking for her family and friends. Lady has lived in the area most of her life and works full-time as a Food Service Manager for a nursing home.

Sforenia Robinson outside her restaurant "The Lady's Place" in McGehee, AR

The town of McGehee, AR has approximately twelve other restaurants that range from pizza to burgers to gas station chicken. Lady thought the town needed the authentic, southern soul food meals she loved cooking. There was no other restaurant nearby where customers could order dishes like Cajun turkey necks, pork chops, and chitterlings.

The Lady's Place opened in October of 2020

In 2020, when everyone’s lives were changing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Lady said she only knew cooking. She purchased a shell building and used her savings to open up a take-out-only restaurant whose menu catered to the down-home, farming community in the rural area, and of course, named it, The Lady’s Place. She wanted her customers to know precisely whose restaurant it was. Her idea was successful, but the wait lines were long within the first five months.

Lady knew she needed to build a dine-in area to accommodate client growth.

In March 2022, Lady went to a local bank for a Small Business Loan (SBA). The bank referred her to Communities Unlimited’s Lending Team. She reached out and started working with CU on her CDFI loan.


“The loan process was new to me, it was long, and I sometimes felt like I wanted to give up; I am not usually a borrower...”

— Sforenia "Lady" Robinson

In December 2022, the CDFI Loan from Communities Unlimited to refinance her building, build a dining area and create a buffet, purchase commercial-grade kitchen equipment, improve bathrooms, install a security system, purchase a point-of-sale system, and advertise was complete.

Lady explained that CU’s Lending Team walked her through every step of her CDFI Loan, and once it was complete, she felt much calmer.

Desserts are also a specialty at The Lady's Place in McGehee, AR

She is excited about the future and plans to add more items to her menu and extend her hours to offer dinner options to her customers.

Now that she has everything she wants, Sforenia can finally say that The Lady’s Place is her place.

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