Restauranteur Sherman Lyle, owner of the Hotel Tavern, was disappointed last week when West Jefferson Town Manager Brantley Price informed him the town would be unable to secure a rural development grant to help Lyle renovate his restaurant space.
Lyle is currently remodeling the space in the Old Hotel building formerly occupied by Brickstone Pizza. The Hotel Tavern is scheduled to open in July with a revamped interior, made-over outdoor seating patio, and remodeled kitchen.
In addition to the usual costs associated with a new business build-out, Lyle said the space needed a substantial amount of work, including extensive tear-up and relaying of the dilapidated floors — in some places several overlaid sub-floors thick.
Lyle said he hoped to get a $25,000 N.C. Rural and Economic Development Center’s Building Reuse and Restoration Grant to help with the repairs. The reuse and restoration program “assists communities in maximizing the economic potential of existing structures.”
“The grant was originally set up for vacant tobacco warehouses and factories,” Lyle said. West Jefferson’s intent to secure the grant was announced at the Board Of Alderman meeting April 1.
The grant stipulates that “existing structures” be vacant, and that their reuse “lead to the creation of private sector jobs through new or expanding businesses.” It also requires that municipalities applying for the grant match five percent of the funds.
Lyle said the Hotel Tavern will create 20-25 jobs, with 5-8 being full-time, and that the town had already offered the requisite $1,250 match.
But with Good Ole Days Ice Cream and Baldwin’s Pawn Shop operating in the same building, Price said he could not tell the Rural Center the building was vacant. In a two-out-of-three-ain’t-bad moment, Price informed Lyle the circumstance did not fit grant criteria.
“Well,” Lyle said after hearing the news, “guess I’ll get to work on the menus.”