The Pulaski County Commissioners have again taken action to approve a Winamac restaurant’s revolving loan request. Tippy’s has been asking for financing to help cover the cost of moving to a larger space. The county commissioners had conditionally approved the request twice already, but each time, it had to be changed to address various concerns.
Tippy’s originally asked for a $40,000 loan to buy a building at 123 North Market Street and move the business there. But the request was scaled back, after County Attorney Kevin Tankersley felt there wasn’t enough collateral.
It was lowered to $25,000, with the idea that Tippy’s would lease the space from Eric Galbreath. The restaurant equipment purchased with the loan would then be used as collateral. As an additional offer, Tippy’s owner Sheila Jimenez said that if for some reason Tippy’s is unable to pay off its loan, Galbreath would be willing to buy the restaurant’s equipment and rent the space to someone else.
But during this week’s meeting, Galbreath clarified that he would not formally guarantee the loan, as the commissioners had requested. “If something happens and that equipment’s all sitting in my building, it has a value to me,” he explained. “And we’ll go get an appraisal on it, and we’ll see what it’s worth at that time. I have value to buy it to try to get somebody else in there. It’s a turnkey operation. And I’ll buy it. I’m not guaranteeing her loan. I’m saying that if you guys come to me, I’ll be the first person to try to buy the stuff from you at a value that it’s worth, which I don’t know what it’s worth. You know, we don’t even know what she’s buying yet.”
But Tankersley said that was too vague to put into a contract, “I can’t draft an agreement that says ‘Eric’s going to buy the stuff back if he wants to, at the price it’s worth at the time, if he could use it.’ There’s no contract there.”
In the end, Commissioner Mike McClure felt the loan was worth the risk, even without a formal agreement with Galbreath. “That’s what that money’s for,” McClure said. “You can’t use it anywhere else. I’d rather maybe see a little metal fabricator than a restaurant or a cabinet maker or something. But she needs the money. We’ve had her in here and out. We’ve got to do something.”
He added that the expansion has the potential to bring more jobs to Downtown Winamac. “You know, if she gets going good, she’s going to employ 10 people if she runs a couple shifts and the weekend. There’s more labor in a restaurant than what we all realize.”
The commissioners approved Tippy’s loan request, but they still wanted Jimenez to put up her father’s truck as collateral, as she previously offered. However, all the challenges with the process have led the Pulaski County Community Development Commission to begin making some adjustments to the revolving loan program. The commissioners voted Monday to freeze any new applications until December 1, while that’s being done.