Published: Jul 17, 2012 06:14 PM
Modified: Jul 17, 2012 06:16 PM
An independent coffee roaster wants to open a two-story coffee bar and restaurant near the Cary Arts Center. Larry’s Beans, a Raleigh-based company, would be the town of Cary’s first private partner in a downtown revitalization push.
If a lease is approved by the Cary Town Council this month, the roaster would establish its first retail outlet in the Jones-Foy House, a historic building that the local government purchased for $600,000 last September. For owner Larry Larson, it’s a chance to grab a spot in a developing market.
“From my core group of confidants, downtown Cary always got an eyebrow raise and a ‘Hmmm, interesting,’ ” he said on Thursday. But they came around, he said, as he detailed the Queen Anne-style house and the town’s other downtown efforts, including the recently finished arts center and the town’s plans for a performing arts theater.
If the deal goes through, Larry’s Beans would commit to a five-year lease for the new Lawrence Coffee Bar+, beginning as early as this winter. The company would pay about $2,026 a month for the first two years and $2,532 monthly for the final three years. The town tried to put the rent at market rate, staff said.
The Jones-Foy House, built in the late 19th century, totals 2,200 square feet and sits on 0.4 acres. It is located on the south end of Academy Street, a block that the government is trying to re-establish as the town’s cultural heart. Two other businesses applied to use the building: Salon LeChene, a downtown hair salon, and SilverCrest Homes, a group that wanted to rehabilitate the building.
But it was Larry’s Beans that “fits in perfectly with what we had requested ... and what we had envisioned,” said Ed Gawf, Cary’s downtown development manager.
Larson, who founded Larry’s Beans 18 years ago, says the coffee house will draw visitors into downtown Cary. There are only a handful of eateries downtown, and none that specifically are coffee shops. The most similar businesses are Serendipity Gourmet Deli and Once in a Blue Moon Bakery and Café, both of which sit two blocks north of the proposed Lawrence location.
“I think a lot of people are going to drive to it,” said Larson, who previously ran Paradigm Coffee House in Cary. “Once you discover it,” he added, “it becomes a destination.”
The old house would enjoy a substantial renovation under the proposed agreement, according to the town, but will retain its Queen Anne style. The town would put $225,000 toward the project, while Larry’s Beans would put an undisclosed sum toward aesthetic improvements.
Town staff announced the potential venture in a press release two weeks ahead of its consideration before the Cary Town Council. The proposal for 324 S. Academy Street goes before the council for final approval on July 26.
“The deal is not signed yet,” Larson said. “I will not celebrate until the deal is done.”