After being on the market for several years, the Unique Café could have a new owner early in 2012 if negotiations between own-ers Doyle and Nancy Lewis and prospective buyer Elizabeth Reynolds are suc-cessful. Reynolds got an-other step closer to buying the iconic downtown restaurant when the Boscobel Common Council approved a $50,000 UDAG loan for her last Wednesday night.
"It's not a done deal, but I'm hopeful," Reynolds said of the purchase. She is cur-rently negotiating a pur-chase price of between $150,000 and $170,000 for the historic business. Nevertheless, Reynolds and city officials were optimistic that the sale would eventu-ally go through.
"Are you still going to call it the Unique?" asked City Administrator Arlie Harris.
"Yes, I'm definitely going to maintain the identity and the tradition of the Unique," replied Reynolds. "As a turn-key operation it's profitable. It's not broken, so I'm not going to fix it."
Getting the $50,000 loan from the city will take some time, however. In mid-August the Council approved a $30,000 loan to Muni Ceulemans for the purchase and remodeling of the former Comfort Beauty Shop building at 835 Wis-consin Ave. for his business, "Gently down the Stream Acupuncture."
Like Reynolds' loan, the terms for Ceulemans' loan are 10 years at 1.5 percent interest. However, due to the large number of loans out there, it will take some time before the UDAG fund is replenished and the money is available.
"Elizabeth knows that it's going to take awhile to get the money," Harris said.
"This money will be given out as it comes in and she knows that," added Mayor Steve Wetter.
With negotiations still underway with the Lewises, that didn't bother Reynolds. "Actually, the timing is good, because we wouldn't be closing until the first of next year at the earliest," she said.
Alderman Pete Huibregtse wondered about the state of the building, asking, "Have you had an inspection?"
"We have a health inspection and a building inspection scheduled for next month, although I have had contractors in already to look at it," Reynolds said. "Overall, the building is in great condition considering its age."
The building itself dates back to the 19th century, where it housed a variety of businesses over the years. According to Agatha Bender's book, "Boscobel-River & Rails," Ruth and Bill Hall started the Unique Café there in 1932 and operated at that location until 1944. Former owners included Elizabbeth Ward Glassmaker and Grace Merwin, who sold the Unique to Doyle and Nancy Lewis.
"Do you get to keep all the signs?" Huibregtse asked Reynolds.
"Unfortunately no," said Reynolds. "I would like to keep the theme and Doyle needs some storage space, so I'd like to keep some things in there in the mean-time if he'll let me."
Ald. Nancy Sanger asked about Reynolds' plans to incorporate local produce into the restaurant menu.
"Yes, definitely," she said. "There is so much lo-cally grown produce around here. I don't see why not. I think it would be fun, and cheaper, to use local pro-duce."
Reynolds is also looking to expand the business to eventually include an out-door seating area, upstairs banquet hall and a catering company.
"Keep up with the Unique Au Gratin though," said Ald. Barb Bell of one of Doyle's signature breakfast dishes.
"Definitely, I'm going to keep his namesakes," said Reynolds. "I'm excited about it."