Ahoskie awards Building Reuse Grant for Main Street restaurant

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2023

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AHOSKIE – A local entrepreneur will receive a Rural Building Reuse Program grant from the Town of Ahoskie to aid in his plans to open and operate a restaurant on Main Street.

The Ahoskie Town Council approved a $12,200 grant for Leroy Douglas at their Dec. 13 meeting. The town has set aside funds in its Façade Grant program for the Rural Building Reuse Program. This marks the first such Building Reuse Grant approved by the Council.

The deadline for submitting a grant application was Dec. 1, a time frame met by Douglas. Within that application, Douglas wrote that he wants to renovate a 3,000 square foot building he owns at 208 West Main Street for use as a restaurant. It is the same location as the former Uptown Café.

The town’s maximum grant for this particular fund is $25,000. It is a “dollar-for-dollar” matching grant, meaning whatever the amount awarded by the town, the grantee must invest that same amount or more.

On his application, Douglas projected his renovation expenses at $52,200. However, some of the expenses he listed are not covered by the grant, to include kitchen and refrigeration equipment. In his application, Douglas listed $34,000 to replace an exhaust hood system in the kitchen as well as purchasing fryers, grill, and refrigeration equipment. He also projected a cost of $6,000 for tables and chairs, which are also an ineligible expense for the grant.

Eligible expenses within the grant program include materials and labor to install HVAC, electrical, plumbing, fire alarm/fire suppression systems, roofing, flooring, carpentry, drywall, and paint.

The construction costs listed in the grant application were $12,200. All of those costs are eligible within the outline of the grant program. The grantee is required to keep track of all eligible expenses and provide copies of the receipts to the town.

“There will be over $100,000 spent to remodel the place,” Douglas told Council members. “Our receipts will far exceed whatever we receive from the town in the form of a grant.”

Ahoskie Town Clerk Jennifer Bracy told the Council members that there is a job commitment portion of the grant, one that requires the business, once it opens, to have at least two full-time employees for a minimum of six consecutive months.

In his application, Douglas noted the employment of two full-time employees and up to six part-time workers. Those jobs will be cooks, waiters, cleaning staff, and clerical staff.

Councilman Charles Reynolds motioned to award a grant that matched the eligible construction costs ($12,200). Charles Freeman offered a second and the motion was approved 4-0 with Councilwoman Linda Blackburn not present at the meeting.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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