September 30, 2014

Village restaurant up for sale

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Old Brick Cafe will not close, owner says

By Greg Elias
Observer staff

The Old Brick Cafe’s owner is selling his business but plans to keep the historic building that houses it.

David Herskowitz emphasized that the cafe will stay open whether or not he finds a buyer. He simply wants to turn the day-to-day operation over to someone else.

“I’m going to sell it as a restaurant,” he said. “I’m not going to sell it otherwise.”

The Burlington-based real estate brokerage V/T Commercial lists the cafe for $185,000. That includes all furniture, equipment, the trade name and a long-term lease on the building.

Herskowitz said the business has been for sale for several months. He said so far he has “talked to a few interested parties but there’s nothing definite.”

The restaurant is located in a home built in 1842. After purchasing the structure, Herskowitz renovated the building and converted it for restaurant use. Before construction began, he estimated the work would cost between $180,000 and $200,000.

Since opening almost two years ago, the Old Brick Cafe has enjoyed a loyal following among patrons but has struggled with parking.

The restaurant seats 50 customers inside, with room for more on a seasonal outdoor patio. But it has just 17 parking spaces.

Herskowitz has since repeatedly tried to remedy the situation by expanding his lot or having customers use parking spaces near Town Hall and Williston Central School.

But town officials complained that cafe patrons were using spaces needed for municipal vehicles. And the Williston School Board in December rejected a proposal to share school lots.

The Development Review Board on Tuesday unanimously voted against a plan to add 10 spaces by paving land Herskowitz wanted to purchase from the school district, according to John Adams, development review planner.

“Everyone had some sympathy for David,” Adams said. “But the bottom line was they couldn’t justify paving over wetlands in an impaired watershed, especially when there is all that parking nearby.”

The lack of parking was also raised in 2005 when Herskowitz sought to expand his operating hours to serve dinner. But after more than 200 customers signed a petition supporting the additional hours the Development Review Board approved the application.

Herskowitz discontinued dinner service in November, citing spotty business and long hours.

The parking controversy and iffy dinner business, however, were not what prompted the sale, Herskowitz said. He said the cafe has enough customers during breakfast and lunch.

Instead, Herskowitz said he is ready to move on to something new, noting that he considers himself a “construction guy” not a restaurant proprietor.

Herskowitz said he enjoyed the challenge of renovating the building and launching a new business, but never intended to make a career out of running a restaurant.

“I’m an interesting guy and I like doing interesting things,” he said. “I don’t see myself doing this forever.”

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