June 25--WATERTOWN -- The Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency's loan review committee tentatively approved a $40,000 loan request Tuesday made by RC Spot LLC, the parent company of Skewed Brewing Co. at Salmon Run Mall, to be used for cash flow.
The three-year loan for the restaurant, which opened in October, will be considered for final approval at the agency's board meeting July 3. The committee's unanimous approval of the loan comes after the agency issued a five-year, $50,000 loan in February 2013 needed to launch the business, co-owned by Ryan and Cheryl Chaif, owners of the Hops Spot restaurant in Sackets Harbor, and Mark P. Crandall.
Owners were notified by the agency about Tuesday's meeting but did not attend. Mr. Chaif declined to comment after the meeting.
Committee members, who reviewed the financials of Skewed Brewing and the Hops Spot during the meeting, discovered the business has operated at a loss since it opened. The Hops Spot, which received a $27,500 loan from the agency in October 2011, finished 2013 with a net loss in revenue.
Lyle V. Eaton, JCIDA's chief financial officer, declined to disclose financial figures for the two restaurants. He said a combined total of about $60,000 is owed on the two outstanding loans, and owners have consistently made payments.
Mr. Eaton said Skewed Brewing, staffed by 44 employees, needs cash flow after it encountered unexpected expenses.
"They had some overruns on the startup and loan fees to the (Small Business Development Center) they didn't anticipate," he said.
An unanticipated cost to install plumbing equipment also set back the restaurant, committee member Donald L. DiMonda said. He said a plumber installed equipment incorrectly, and another plumber was hired to complete the work.
"They had a bad experience with a plumber and took a $20,000 hit," Mr. DiMonda said. "I don't think I see anything unusual, other than the fits and starts of a new business. I haven't heard anything bad about the food or the business."
Committee member Michelle D. Pfaff said the operating loss at Skewed Brewing did not concern her, as startups typically operate at a loss during their first year. But she expressed concerns about the loss in 2013 at the Hops Spot.
"They showed a profit in 2012 at the Hops Spot, and I thought that was good because it would support their new business," she said. "And in 2013, it shows a loss and negative cash flow -- that's my only concern."
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