‘Reno Rebuild’ initiative makes its first loan to cafe owner
The owners of four restaurants and bars in Reno promised a year ago to devote a portion of their sales to helping startup businesses in town.
The first borrower? The founder of another restaurant.
Barrie Schuster, owner of Café DeLuxe at 1690 S. Wells Ave., said she’ll use the $20,000 loan from the Reno Rebuild Project to bolster her cushion of working capital as the café prepares to open this month.
“This will allow me to open with a lot more confidence that we’ll get through,” said Schuster, a real estate agent who has financed Café DeLuxe from personal savings.
The loan from Reno Rebuild Project was developed by three business owners — Chris Kahl, Michael Connolly and Zachary Cage.
Together, they own Legends Grill, Sports & Spirits in south Reno along with Sierra Tap House, Ole Bridge Pub and The Brewer’s Cabinet in downtown Reno.
A year ago, they pledged to contribute 5 cents from every transaction at the establishments to create a loan fund to help Reno-area startups.
They brought on the Community Foundation of Western Nevada to manage the loan program.
While Café DeLuxe might seem competition to the restaurants that provide the livelihood for the founders of the Reno Rebuild Project, Cage said the group that selected the café was impressed by the concept of the new restaurant as well as the passion that Schuster brings to the project.
A longtime advocate for the Wells Avenue neighborhood, Schuster leaped at the chance to create a restaurant in the former DeLuxe Laundry building.
The building on the south end of Wells Avenue has been redeveloped by HabeRae Investments Inc. of Reno into Dozen @ the Deluxe. It’s a project that mixes residential and retail uses in the 60-year-old brick building.
Décor of the new café includes photographs and newspaper articles about the history of Wells Avenue neighborhoods.
The 1,000-square-foot café, with seating for 30 inside and 14 outside during warm weather, will employ about six people when it opens for breakfast and lunch service, Schuster said.
Cage said the Reno Rebuild Project will continue to collect a nickel-per-transaction at its founders’ four restaurants and is beginning to field inquiries from other local companies that also want to participate. The loan fund also will grow as initial borrowers make repayments.
Doug Erwin, vice president of entrepreneurial development for the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, was among members of the panel that sorted through applications for the first Reno Rebuild loan.
He said the program is particularly heartening because it shows the willingness of entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in traditional funding for startups.
Tiffiany Howard, a UNLV professor and recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation senior research fellow, is the lead author of the study aimed at identifying ways banks can help support and invest in Black entrepreneurs.