By ROSS BROWN
GIBSON CITY — A Gibson City bar is closing March 31 until it re-opens under a new name at a new and more prominent location downtown.
Sammer’s II, owned by Fisher residents Sam and Kelly Steenbergen, will be moving from 115 W. 8th St. and re-opening under its new name — Jay’s Place — at 115/117 N. Sangamon Ave., a two-business structure located south of Hood’s ACE Hardware.
The structure formerly housed Guy Percy’s Country Financial office in its north half and Edward Jones Investments in its south half. Kelly Steenbergen said the center wall will be knocked down, leaving one business area.
Gibson City Council members on Monday night approved the Steenbergens’ application for a facade grant in the amount of $4,675, as well as a loan through the city’s community development assistance program (CDAP) in the amount of $35,325.
Sammer’s, which features live bands multiple times each month, was established by Kelly Steenbergen’s brother, the late Jay Caviness. Mr. Caviness ran the restaurant and bar and hosted local bands and pork chop dinners before high school football games. Mr. Caviness died in his sleep from a heart attack on Sept. 23, and family members have been running the establishment since.
Kelly Steenbergen, choked with emotion while describing her brother’s dream of running the restaurant, said it was his idea to expand the business.
"We’re making the front of the building different," she explained. "We would also like to put seating in front of the building on the outside to enjoy the weather when the weather is nice."
The ares in front of the building would be used for outdoor seating, and appetizers will be served, she said.
Tracy Epps, president of the Bank of Gibson City and chairman of the city’s CDAP loan committee, which met last Thursday morning to review the loan application, said the the total cost of the remodeling project is $114,000. The initial loan application was for $40,000, but Epps said the amount was lowered after the facade grant was approved.
Terms of the five-year loan agreement include a $619 monthly payment with 2 percent interest.
"The city will be taking a blanket lien on inventory furniture, fixtures and equipment," Epps said. "(The Steenbergens) will provide a list of purchase receipts before the loan is set up."
Alderman Nelda Jordan asked Epps if the loan has a late-payment penalty. Epps said it does not.
Mayor Dan Dickey said a late fee could be included in future CDAP loans, but he said it would not be wise to include it in the loan for Jay’s Place because the details were already discussed with the business owners and CDAP loan committee.
"In a commercial setting, you would have a 15-day grace period and then a late fee of 5 percent of the monthly amount." City Attorney Marc Miller said.
Epps added the business would expand from 600 square feet at its current location to 3,000 at the Sangamon Avenue spot, which would include a video poker machine and a pool table.
As part of the loan agreement, council members approved a change in the city’s ordinance amending the liquor licenses, as an outdoor cafe license is being added for Jay’s Place.
Also at Monday night’s city council meeting:
➜ Council members approved a $2,022 facade grant for Ray and Tricia Goin for their catering business on Sangamon Avenue. Ray Goin said wind damaged the facade at his business recently. The cost came from Shade Solutions in Urbana.
➜ Council members approved an $18,000 bid from Pittsburg Tank & Tower Co. for a paint inspection of the city’s water tower. Water plant operator Mark Webster said the inspection will be done in one day.
➜ Steve Anderson with the Lee Lowery American Legion Post 568 asked that 9th Street be closed on Saturday, April 27, for the Tony Row Memorial Benefit. The council approved his request.
➜ Gary Lutterbie presented the 2020 fiscal year budget for the city’s industrial park pond and dog park area. Projects this year include a $1,760 project to install a 6-foot sidewalk around the pond. Jordan questioned the sidewalk idea, saying it was not necessary. Lutterbie explained that the pond is also thought of as a park and so a sidewalk would be a good fit. Dickey said the budget is only a first draft and was not being approved that night.
➜ Alderman Doug Parsons read a letter from City Superintendent Randy Stauffer asking that the city hold its cleanup day on Saturday, May 18. Former alderman Jan Hall then mentioned that Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School graduation takes place that day, as well, and so council members decided to hold off on approving it.
➜ The full council observed a 102-second moment of silence in memory of Gibson City Police Lt. Tony Row, who died of cancer last Saturday night. Dickey said Mr. Row’s badge was No. 102.
➜ The council deliberated in closed session for about 15 minutes. No action was taken.