BEMUS POINT — The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency is helping out a Bemus Point restaurant after a federal business loan fell through.
During a recent meeting of the county IDA, members approved an EDA Cares Act loan to the Bemus Point Inn Restaurant for $250,000 for machinery, equipment and working capital. The money originated from the US Economic Development Administration when it provided the county IDA a $10.5 million grant through the CARES Act. The intent of the grant was to provide capital, in the form of low-interest loans, to both businesses and nonprofit organizations as a means to respond to economic injury resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Rosie Strandburg with the county IDA, the Bemus Point Inn Restaurant, which is owned by Laurie Miller, has six full-time employees and 11 part-time. She shared that during COVID it had to close down multiple times and lost revenue.
As part of its recovery, the business created a new marketing opportunity called “Buns on the Run” where they would install a drive-through and sell its popular cinnamon buns, among other items.
The restaurant was in the process of doing an expansion and sought a loan from the Small Business Administration. Miller had been approved for the funds, however, that approval was pulled, to no fault of Miller.
“When she was approved and in the final stages of filling out her paperwork for the SBA, the SBA ran out of money,” Strandburg said.
Along with approaching the IDA, Miller received a bank loan as well.
There’s also an apartment on the property that is currently vacant. Strandburg said in the next two to three years, Miller would like to turn it into an Airbnb rental.
The county IDA unanimously approved the loan.
After the meeting, The Post-Journal/OBSERVER reached out to Miller to discuss her plans. The Bemus Point Inn Restaurant has been a staple in the community. The business first opened in 1946. She and her husband, Dave, have owned it since June 1, 2009.
Miller noted that right now the Bemus Point Inn Restaurant is currently closed due to construction. They plan on being open June 29.
Buns on the Run will be a separate drive-through and that will be open probably around the end of July.
The construction has been a bit chaotic. They started planning for the drive-through last summer. First, Miller said, they approached all their neighbors to make sure they were OK with the plans. Next they went before the proper boards to get approval for the project. Afterward, they sought the funding from the SBA, which originally offered them a $900,000 loan. Once they started construction, they were told that the SBA would no longer be able to fund the expansion, which is how they ended up seeking assistance from the county IDA.
Miller said they wanted a drive-through for multiple reasons. She said there are a lot of people who don’t have time to sit down for a breakfast. Also, some people may still be avoiding restaurants due to COVID-19.
“With a drive-through, we will never have to close again. We will always be able to be there for our community, for our employees,” she said.
Even though they are installing the drive-through, there are no changes planned for the main restaurant. The front of the house will continue to be a full service, sit-down establishment. The drive-through will be installed in the back, with necessary signage, directing traffic.
They plan to have the drive-through open Monday to Saturday, beginning at 6:30 am and open to early or mid-afternoon.
Buns on the Run will have its own scaled down menu. Some of the planned menu items include breakfast and lunch sandwiches, crustless quiches, side salads and fresh fruit. “It’s going to be classic food. It’s not going to be burgers and fries. We’ll have nothing deep fried,” she said.
And of course they’re going to be selling their famous cinnamon rolls. Their business tag line is “Where you can wake up to the sweetest buns in town.” From there is how they got their name for the drive through.
Miller praises those who have continued to support them over the years. “We’ve felt the most love around us. We have the best people, the best customers, our community is so amazing,” she said.