First Mid highlights commercial client, NOTO, a partially woman-owned business.

NOTO Restaurant co-owner Kendele Sieve

At First Mid, we are proud to support women-owned businesses. We have many commercial clients throughout our locations in Illinois, Missouri, and Texas, who are either fully women-owned or partially women-owned. In honor of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting a few select clients from our St. Louis market.

NOTO is an Italian restaurant located in St. Peters, Missouri. NOTO is owned by Wayne and Kendele Sieve, a husband-and-wife team. Kendele has Italian heritage, and the couple has traveled to Italy mutiple times together. Mike Self, Commercial Lender at First Mid, immediately thought of Kendele when asked if he worked with any women-owned business customers. She mainly focuses on the business side of their operation while her husband is the head chef. They import many of their ingredients directly from Italy to make their pizzas and other dishes more authentic. When you eat a delicious pizza at NOTO, you don’t feel like you are eating a pizza in St. Peters, Missouri. You feel like you are eating a pizza in Italy.

This blog article series will spotlight women-owned businesses whose trust we have earned at First Mid. It is also meant to motivate other women who dream of becoming an entrepreneur or need help growing their business. Kendele was asked a series of questions, and her answers are destined to inspire.

  1. How did you start your career as an entrepreneur? Is this your first business?
    • I started working for the family bakery business owned by my father when I was 12 years old. Being in the kitchen at such a young age and seeing the business operations inspired me to attend culinary school and choose this industry as my career. I met my husband (Wayne) while working in the kitchen at a country club. He had the same passion and drive as I did, and we knew one day we would open our own business. In 2017, my husband and I started a food truck business as a side hobby which eventually led to the brick-and-mortar restaurant we are currently operating.
  2. Were there any outside sources that were helpful for you (i.e., Courses, Training Programs, Mentors)?
    • The biggest mentor for myself was my father. At an early age, I started to work for my father’s business. Being exposed to the ins and outs of his operation over the years gave me the knowledge I needed to start my own business. I also reached out to the Economic Development Council (EDC) in St. Peters, where they helped me build a business plan, forecast sales, and research data for the area of the prospected location of the restaurant.
  3. How did you grow your company into what it is today? Were there specific foundation blocks that you think helped you find success?
    • The dynamic between my husband and I with the business operations is what drives the continued growth of the restaurant. We each have our own strengths and we try to utilize and harness each of our abilities. Trial and error also help our growth. We never stop learning about our business and we both have equal amounts of passion and drive to succeed.
  4. Did you make any mistakes along the way, and if so, how did you work past them?
    • There is not one big mistake that I can think of, but hundreds of small ones. We assess the mistakes, come up with a solution, and solve the problem. Learning to adapt in this industry is crucial.
  5. Has your business had any hard times? If so, how did you persevere through those times?
    • We opened our restaurant on January 6, 2020 — two months before COVID-19. It was not an ideal situation to be in, but we were able to persevere. We came up with ideas to push through the hard time, adapted to the current situation, and never looked back.
  6. What advice did you receive that you think helped you succeed?
    • I read and listened to a lot of motivational books. Several state this quote, which I try to live by everyday both personally and professionally: “Strive to be 1% better every day.”
  7. What advice would you give other women who are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur?
    • You are not in this alone. Use your resources and network with like-minded individuals who can give you insight and direction before you jump into anything. Also, you need to be comfortable to risk everything for the business. Not everyone has what it takes to be an entrepreneur. 7% of the entire population are entrepreneurs and only 1% succeed.
  8. What are tips you have for other female entrepreneurs to help them grow their business?
    • Build your core group of employees (I call it the A team). The bigger the company, the larger the core group. Be a leader and your employees will follow in your direction.
  9. What are some of the challenges you face when it comes to being innovative in your industry?
    • The food industry is constantly changing. In our business, we stay true to made-from-scratch recipes with the highest quality ingredients. The challenge for us is staying relevant and creating a restaurant that is timeless.
  10. What are the next steps for your business? Do you have plans to make it grow even more?
    • We have several new concepts in mind and have set a five-year plan to execute them. Each concept will be a new business and not just an expansion or second location of the previous.
  11. How has First Mid made an impact on your business? Did you use an SBA loan?
    • We currently have three SBA loans. The first was for construction/equipment for the restaurant. The second was to purchase the property and land the business is located at. The third is for the second business concept. First Mid has helped our company grow with these loans.
  12. How was your experience with your First Mid commercial lender and do you still work with them on an ongoing basis?
    • It has been a wonderful experience. Our lender is always there for us with any questions/advice/ideas to help along with the financial aspect of the business. It is a personalized experience and being able to deal with someone local has benefited our company greatly.

Mike Self had a few words to say about Kendele’s work ethic. According to Mike, “Ever since the Spring of 2017, when Kendele and Wayne started a mobile pizza trailer serving Neapolitan style pizzas in the St. Charles and St. Louis areas, they have been impacting the community. NOTO Italian Restaurant, with their wood-fired oven built and shipped from southern Italy, can now serve the same dishes they experienced during their trips through the Campania region. Kendele is very passionate about her work and holds herself to the highest standards. You can tell this is more than just a business transaction to her. She wants to provide her customers with the best possible product made with the best possible ingredients. Kendele is extremely organized and quick to respond. She is creative with both her products and when it comes to business. Kendele and Wayne work well together, as they each have their own strengths they bring to the table.”

If you dream of starting your own business or expanding a business, click here to learn more about our Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Your dreams can come true, and our commercial lenders are here to help.

*This Q&A was edited for clarity and length.