During its regular meeting last week, Sapulpa City Council returned from an executive session to vote to approve entering into a contract to loan up to $200K in economic development incentive funds to Dewey Buildings, LLC (a subsidiary of the Kante Group) in a 9-1 vote. Ward 1 Councilor John Suggs made up the dissenting vote.
The agreement, the first to make use of a portion of the $4M in economic development incentive money approved by voters in January of 2020 as part of the GO Bond, is the product of months of negotiations between the City and the Kante Group for a purchase buy-back secured by restaurant equipment to incentivize the business to open a new restaurant in downtown Sapulpa.
City of Sapulpa Economic Development Director Mark Lawson confirmed with Sapulpa Times that “the agreement has been signed by the applicant and returned to the City.”
The terms of the contract state that the City will reimburse the business up to $200K for capital equipment purchases for Crossroads Cookery, to be located at 117 East Dewey, in the SeneGence Event Center.
The City will retain a lien on the equipment, among other provisions which will allow the City to recoup its investment in the event the restaurant does not perform as expected.
“This being the first agreement to expend economic development funds, the City Council wanted to set a good precedent moving forward. The Crossroads Cookery is sustainable and aligns with the public’s desires as outlined in the Downtown Master Plan. Giving citizens a return on their investment is the Council’s top priority,” says Lawson.
The City expects this project to provide a quick return on its investment based on Dewey Buildings, LLC’s projected sales.
There are other qualities the applicant possesses that made its appeal desirable to the Council, such as capital to invest in its own venture and a proven background of success.
Additionally, the Downtown Master Plan (DMP), approved earlier this year, presented criteria the citizens voiced as being important to them in revitalizing the area, and “this deal satisfies a lot of those desires from the public,” Lawson says.
Some examples include its hours (it will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight), its offerings (an ice cream parlor, homemade dessert cakes, its own brand of coffee roasted on-site, a wet bar, and a menu created with the help of a consultant that will be tweaked, as needed, to fit the community), it is making use of a historic downtown building, and it will be open after hours and on weekends, while also being family-friendly. “It fits every suggestion or want expressed by the community,” says Lawson.
The restaurant is also situated in an area the DMP lists as the second most ideal spot for a catalyst project—Park and Dewey.
Another factor in the applicant’s favor was that, “They had a sharp business plan with a specific ask,” Lawson said. “The Council understands that to kick start some downtown revitalization, someone has to take some risk.” The Kante Group has said that they understand the risk factor, but that they are committed to this community and its growth.
This particular agreement is the result of a concerted effort by the Council to give the people what they wanted. Says Lawson, “It checks all the boxes, in my opinion.”
However, Lawson tells Sapulpa Times that “all of the economic development incentive deals can be structured differently. They don’t have to be capital investments. We are open and flexible to a variety of projects.” He does say that the Council is looking for applicants who can bring “sustainability and a long-term commitment to doing business in the City” and that it is interested in helping existing businesses grow, but is also willing to make deals with new businesses.
Crossroads Cookery is expected to open in June 2022, around the same time as another highly-anticipated Kante Group project, the Tee Pee Drive-In revival.