Port panel recommends city loan for brewpub

Inventors would use $150,000 to purchase restaurant equipment
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Community Development Authority on Monday recommended that the city give Inventors Brewpub a $150,000 loan from its revolving loan fund for its new facility at the north end of the north harbor slip.

The loan won’t be used to construct the 25,000-square-foot building, CDA members specified, but instead to purchase needed equipment for the restaurant and brewhouse.

Estimates are that the equipment needed for the restaurant will cost $350,000 and for the brewery $425,000, Kathleen Cady Schilling, executive director of Ozaukee Economic Development, told the committee.

Members unanimously recommended the Common Council approve the loan, which would be repaid over 10 years, but they debated the interest rate. The council is expected to consider the matter when it meets Wednesday, April 6.

Inventors asked for an interest rate of half of the prime rate on the day they applied for the loan, or 1.675%, which is allowed under the bylaws of the loan fund, Cady Schilling said.

But CDA member Bill Prince said the city should establish a higher interest rate since the prime rate is expected to increase in the coming weeks.

“We might look foolish (with a lower rate),” he said. “I would feel more comfortable if we set the interest rate at what prime is when this is approved by the council.”

But CDA member Missy Larson said the idea isn’t to make money on the loans.

“The intent of this is not to generate interest income,” she said. “It’s to generate business.”

But given the current economic conditions, members agreed to set the interest rate when the council approves the loan.

Ald John Sigwart, a member of the CDA, asked what would happen if Inventors were to fail.

Because the city doesn’t have the first loans on the brewpub, Cady Schilling said, it would likely not get its money back. 

Cady Schilling noted that the brewpub will be able to significantly increase its output with the new facility, and it will be able to host 160 people inside the restaurant with seating for 80 others outside — far more than the 80 to 100 patrons it can accommodate in its current quarters at the Van Ells-Schanen American Legion Hall.

Over the past four years, Cady Schilling said, Inventors saw growth in both profits and sales, and while both dropped in 2020, they increased significantly in 2021.

Projections for 2023, when the new brewpub is up and running, show a loss in the first year but significant incomes in years two and three.

In return for the loan, Inventors must agree to create at least 10 full-time equivalent positions within three years, Cady Schilling said.

The brewpub expects to create 24 to 30 full-time equivalent jobs, she said.

Cady Schilling noted that Inventors owner Adam Draeger, general manager Cameron Huck and assistant general manager and brewmaster Sean Dineen all have ownership shared in not just Inventors but TBF Development, which will construct and own the building. Inventors will have a 25-year lease.

The loan will be matched by $300,000 in owner’s equity, Cady Schilling said, adding TBF will have a $3.14 million construction loan and a $2.2 million Small Business Administration loan for the project. A $350,000 working capital loan is also expected to be taken out for the project.


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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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