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Startup Success: Getting on the Right Path right away

When Robert Bernardo was thinking of leaving his 20-year corporate career, he wasn’t sure what path to take. By exploring his passions for food, the environment and wellness, he found the right path to take.

Three years ago, Bernardo opened Right Path Organic Cafe in downtown New London. He serves tasty, healthy food; however, he doesn’t just fill your stomach, he feeds your mind, body and soul.

This mission is a successful one. Right Path Organic Cafe is expanding to a bigger space on Bank Street. With the larger venue, the staff will expand from four to six employees.

Bernardo’s father was a small business owner, so he knew what going into business would entail. But there was more he needed to know.

He interned at a vegan restaurant to learn more about preparing healthy foods and operating a restaurant. He adapted recipes and made them his own. But he realized there was still a lot to learn about opening a business.

Enter the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.

“Matt at SBDC was really helpful. He pointed me in the right direction,” says Bernardo. The information and resources the SBDC business adviser provided helped move the business along quickly, with a solid infrastructure. From creating a business plan to connecting Bernardo to business loans, the SBDC provided soup-to-nuts information. With SBDC’s help, his restaurant was up and running four months later.

“SBDC won’t do the work for you, but they will point you in the right direction,” Bernardo said. “You have to be committed to the business and keep moving forward.”

Bernardo cites the quote “Be the change you want to see” as inspiration, adding “We’re all in this together.”

Emma Palzere-Rae is the Ignite Program Manager for Thames River Innovation Place. If you are an entrepreneur looking for support, visit for information on programs and resources.

Local startup

Who: Robert Bernardo, Owner/Chef

Startup: Right Path Organic Cafe, founded 2015

Location: 140 State St., New London; moving to 147 Bank St., New London


Featured resource: Small Business Development Center -




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