EDA approves loan for downtown tap house in Spring Valley

Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Spring Valley’s Economic Development Authority (EDA), during a regular meeting Wednesday, Dec. 4, approved a revolving loan fund of $60,000 for Stellar 181, a tap house that plans to open in downtown Spring Valley.

The loan to Spring Valley Chateau de Chic salon and Chic by Chateau owner Jenn Slifka and her husband, Alex, still requires approval from the Spring Valley City Council, which was to meet Monday, Dec. 9, after this edition of the Tribune went to press.

The Slifkas presented a business plan to the EDA as they are developing a fourth downtown building into renewed purpose. Jenn operates the salon and clothing store, and her mother, Suzanne Gardner, operates Some Like It Hot Cakes and Catering in the third building – forming what some call “Spring Valley’s mini-mall.” The fourth building, which they recently purchased, formerly held an accounting firm that moved to the north side of Spring Valley.

Economic development director Chris Hahn introduced the couple and let them outline what their hopes are for the fourth building.

“We basically purchased the building next to the three we have for someone who wanted to expand a business there, but at the last minute, they decided that they couldn’t do what they had planned, so we were trying to think of something fun to do and what we’re good at as a family, and we’re looking at a tap house with food,” Jenn Slifka told the EDA.

“The really important part of this is we’re putting in a shared commercial kitchen to expand my mom’s business, because that’s what she’s been wanting to do for years but didn’t want to have the (investment),” she explained. “Right now, she’s licensed out of a kitchen in Preston, so that’s a lot of travel time for her. Having that kitchen for her business here, she can do coffeehouse, lunches, grab-and-go food items, baked goods, filling in a lot of things that people want here. We’ll also be working with local breweries…making specialty drinks and food items.”

Stellar 181 will feature locally brewed beers and a limited hot food menu. It will be open Thursday through Sunday with availability to host activities in the space Monday through Wednesday.

She stated that by opening a tap house, she and Alex could appeal to men as well as the women who come all the way from Rochester and the Twin Cities to shop at Chateau and Chic and enjoy Gardner’s venue at Some Like It Hot. The bid for the commercial kitchen came in at $60,000, but she and Alex would do as much construction as they possibly could because he is skilled in construction and oversaw the transformation of the Chic building.

Jenn assured the EDA that their new business would contribute to Spring Valley’s vitality and that it would be “not just another bar” – filling a Sunday morning breakfast niche that is lacking in downtown Spring Valley after operating from Thursday through Saturday for the hops-oriented crowd.

Hahn expressed that his “biggest concern was the EDA’s position” for collateral on the loan, but Jenn relayed to the EDA, “We have investors, but they’re not in a hurry to be repaid. They just want to do this.”

The EDA approved the loan at an interest rate of prime plus 0.5 percent, which equals 5.25 percent. There were also several other conditions placed on the loan.

In other matters, Hahn reviewed opportunities for the EDA’s membership to participate in the Rural Entrepreneurship Venture (REV), an initiative of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) to assist small business owners in rural towns. He said that while Spring Valley was part of the first round of towns chosen for REV, there will be a second collection of communities that will be chosen to participate, offering the chance for Spring Valley to serve as a mentor community and learn from the experiences of entrepreneurs in the new lineup of REV communities.

Hahn and the EDA’s membership also spoke briefly about the end of longtime member Kim Brown’s term on Dec. 31 and the willingness of some of its other longtime members to step down early so that new people may take their seats and help plot Spring Valley’s economic future.

“We should be actively planning and looking for new members of the EDA board,” he said.