A Batavia city committee on Monday recommended providing financial assistance to a local business looking for a new home.
The Government Services Committee voted in favor of a $15,000 Micro Loan for Lafiet, Inc., the mother-and-daughter enterprise behind Limestone Coffee and Tea. City Administrator Bill McGrath confirmed the vote with Batavia Patch.
The seven-member Committee's vote was 4-1, with Aldermen Garran Sparks and Robert Liva absent. Alderman Victor Dietz voted against the loan, saying that Limestone's debt load was too high to add another $15,000.
Owner Maureen "Mo" Mares applied for the money to buy some kitchen equipment and supplies to expand her business. She originally applied for $25,000, but the Business Loan Review Committee lowered the amount by $10,000.
She is in talks with Batavia Enterprises to reopen her coffeeshop at 8 W. Wilson St., the former Allen + Pepa Batavia location.
"I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that you are all still thinking about us & wondering what's going on!!" said an Aug. 1 post on Limestone's Facebook page. "We have made some progress on a new location, this is true."
Limestone closed in November 2011 at its original location at 15 E. Wilson St. because its lease was not renewed. Limestone first opened in that location in 2007. The Rhino Room coffeehouse and wine bar opened up in its place in the spring.
There is no word yet on when Limestone might finally open at its new location. At some point, Batavia Enterprises will likely seek city assistance for a planned build-out for 8 W. Wilson, according to an Aug. 9 city memo about the loan.
The development assistance request will go to the Community Development Committee at a future date.
The $15,000 Micro loan request will go to the full City Council for a final vote on Aug. 20.
The New Limestone
Mares envisions a bigger business that includes bulk bakery sales, a catering menu and an evening dessert menu.
To staff the new location, Mares said she will create an assistant baker position as well as one for shift manager. Mares also plans to hire back the former baristas from the first location.
"We also feel that we would be benefiting the city by bringing back an existing, and popular, business to the downtown, including the tax revenue generated from our increasing sales revenue," Mares said in her loan application.
While Limestone went without a physical location, the owner made some of the products available for sale at Water Street Studios, during such events as Art from the Heart in Feburary and the April 12 St. Baldrick's fundraiser.
About the Loan
The loan would go toward the purchase of the following items:
- Double convection oven
- Double-door refrigerator
- Single-door freezer
- Large triple sink
- Hand sinks
- Sandwich cooler
- 75-lb. ice machine
- Kitchen extension
Without the loan, Mares would not be able to expand and reopen Limestone. The loan would be repaid over 36 months with a 3.25 percent interest rate, according to the city memo.
Limestone had previously applied for bank loans in the past, but was rejected twice. The Business Loan Review Committee did have some concerns about Limestone's debt load and profit margin, but were comforted by the lower proposed operating expenses that will result from a "more favorable lease arrangement with Batavia Enterprises," the memo said.
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