Microbrewery, steakhouse projects receive funding

Published 7:43 pm Monday, February 20, 2017

Grants to help locate a microbrewery/restaurant and a steakhouse in downtown Washington have been approved.

The Mid-East Commission, on behalf of the City of Washington, prepared the grant applications.

“It’s a big impact for us inside the central business district,” City Manager Bobby Roberson said Monday. “Both if those buildings have been vacant for a number of years. It gives us an opportunity to improve the central business district and create jobs for the economy. We’re really excited about that.”

Roberson said the city has protections in place if the projects do not fulfill their grant requirements. Those protections assure the city is not liable for paying back any grant money because the projects fail to meet grant conditions.

“It’s also tied to job creation. So, subsequently, they’ve got to sign a letter that guarantees X number of positions over the next six months and be full-time employees. If they don’t, then they’ve got to pay us back,” Roberson said. “Typically, we do have a clawback on both of these grants.”

Catherine Glover, executive director of the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, views the awarding of the grants as another step to improve the city’s economy. “It’s exciting for us and the community just to see these buildings be rehabbed and put to use. It’s a big boost for our economy, in our opinion,” Glover said. “One will be a restaurant, which is great. The other will take a building that has been vacant for 40 years and actually turning it into something people can go to. That’s a huge win.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce — through its North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority — awarded a $25,000 building reuse grant for building renovations and upfit to Pates Food Group, the business entity preparing to open the seventh Ribeyes in eastern North Carolina. The company plans to renovate the building that housed the former Apollo’s Steakhouse and other restaurants to accommodate the new restaurant.

In January, the council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the grant application. A city document notes total eligible expenses for the proposal are estimated at $100,000. The city’s contribution to the project would be 5-percent of the grant amount, or $1,250.

Justin Pate and his father Larry Pate are partners in Pates Food Group, which has agreed to reimburse the city for its contribution to the project, according to Matt Rauschenbach, the city’s administrative services director and chief financial officer.

A pre-application form listed Mark V.L. Gray, a Greensboro-based lawyer, as the property owner. The property is located at 228 Stewart Parkway.

The project’s total renovation cost is estimated at $98,000, with the total project funding listed as $280,000 (private-sector investment), according to Rauschenbach. Proposed renovations include replacing the handicapped-accessible ramp with a lift system, changes to the kitchen area and an outdoor dining area where the existing ramp is located.

Grant documents indicate Ribeyes will create at least five new jobs once it opens in the building constructed in 1905 and which has been vacant two years. The Washington Ribeyes has six months to create at least five new jobs.

Ribeyes has locations in Beaufort, Cape Carteret, Snow Hill, Williamston, Tarboro, Henderson, Mount Olive, Greenville and Nashville.

A $500,000 grant from the Downtown Redevelopment Fund will be used to help renovate the building once used by Fowle & Sons General Merchandise at the intersection of West Main and Respess streets. The three-story building, which sat vacant for 40 years, is planned to house Castle Island Brewery, a restaurant and brewery, an enterprise of New Vision Partners LLC.

New Vision Partners is a limited-liability corporation based in Raleigh, according to the N.C. Secretary of State Department’s website. Its registered agent is Justin Fejfar. Its managing member is New Visions Partners Inc.

The Castle Island Brewery located in Norwood, Massachusetts, does not appear to have connections with this project.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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