Quesnel will be getting a new downtown restaurant.
City council officially entered into a five-year lease with Moonshine Coffee to turn the upper level of Shiraoi House in LeBourdais Park into a coffee roaster and restaurant at their April 6 meeting.
The upper level of Shiraoi House has been sitting mostly vacant since June of 2019, when the Shiraoi Twinning Society asked to leave the building. According to a city report penned by director of community services Jeff Norburn, the building has been available for rent, but has been underused.
The city funded a business study which ranked a coffee shop as the best potential use of the space.
Before signing the lease, the city received a grant to upgrade the utilities at the building to create a better chance of attracting a business.
Councillors also agreed to a request from Moonshine for reduced rent for the first few months of the lease. Moonshine had asked for a six month period, but councillors agreed to three on the recommendation of staff.
“We have a shared, mutual interest in this business being successful at this location,” Norburn said, explaining the staff recommendation. “This is a new venture.”
Councillor Scott Elliott wanted to grant Moonshine all six months of their request, while Councillors Ron Paull and Martin Runge disagreed, noting the lease is already cheaper than other businesses in downtown.
“If they’re asking for rent relief from day one, that is a little bit worrying,” Runge said.
The lease calls for Moonshine to pay $10 per square foot per year, which is expected to generate $18,000 in funds for the city. Three months at 50 per cent would reduce the city’s expected revenue by only $2,250.
“We’ve invited someone to take an adventure with us,” Mayor Bob Simpson said. “The finances to us are nominal, but the finances to an individual starting a business — every dollar counts.”
Other councillors were also eager to try and find some way to reduce costs for Moonshine, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic’s affect on restaurants.
Councillors decided to grant Moonshine their request in part, with only Paull voting against.
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