Fortune Small Business:

John Halko was halfway through renovating an expanded space for Comfort, his mostly organic eatery in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., when the credit crisis hit.

His source of funding — a home-equity line — ran out, so he applied for a loan at a local bank. He was turned down.

Halko wasn’t ready to throw in the dish towel. His solution? The modern equivalent of an old-fashioned barn raising.

Instead of soliciting neighbors to lift timbers, he asked them to open their wallets. For every $500 they purchased in “Comfort Dollars,” his patrons received a $600 credit toward meals at the restaurant.

As the community rallied around Comfort, Halko says, “it gave us hope.”

He raised $25,000 in six months, and the new, larger space – now called Comfort Lounge — opened for business in May.

Photo by FSB.