Curt's Cafe purchases café space at 2922 Central Street in Evanston
After more than eight years of renting cafe space at 2922 Central Street in Evanston, the non-profit organization raised the funds needed to purchase the building that houses the cafe. Through an outpouring of generosity and community support, Curt’s Cafe has been able to cement their future serving young adults living in at-risk situations through work and life skills training.
"Growing up I was taught that home ownership was the highest level of success you could reach,” says
Susan Garcia Trieschmann, founder and Executive Director of Curt’s Cafe. "When you own a home a certain level of security comes along with that. Now that Curt’s Cafe can buy its “home” there is the opportunity to continuing building our program with a stronger base, and open our arms wider to our students and our community. And as always, we will continue to build our home with love.”
According to Rick Marsh, President of the Curt’s Cafe Board of Directors, this step was possible because of all the people who believe in Curt’s mission. More than $79,000 was raised with the sole intent of buying the building. "Throughout the fundraising process for the building fund, we had donors and supporters who really helped us by contributing to our effort to make this happen. We can’t thank them enough. We couldn’t have taken this important step without them,” say Marsh.
Marsh believes this purchase has great significance for the future of Curt’s Cafe. "Our Board believes owning the building solidifies Curt’s Cafe as an organization, proves we have skin in the game, and reaffirms the work we are doing has value for our young students and our communities,”says Marsh. "It’s also an important step for us as we go out into the community to solicit funds from individuals and foundations to demonstrate that our program is going to be sustainable. We are making a commitment that says we are in this for the long run, we believe in this work, and we are driving this program for long term success."
So how did the purchase come together during this chaotic COVID crisis? It has actually been in the works for more than a year. In 2019, Curt’s Board of Directors was introduced to IFF by former Curt’s Café Board President and current Board Member, Patti Mueller Anderson. IFF is a mission driven lender that helps non-profits and communities thrive by providing long-term financing for capital projects. After many discussions, the Curt’s Board voted to partner with IFF to purchase the building that houses the Evanston cafe.
Curt’s paid fair market value for the building. The property was valuated by the bank and the seller gave Curt’s Cafe $10,000 of the valued price. The purchase included the entire building, including the Swann Lake Cleaners storefront at 2920 Central.
As a result of this purchase, Curt’s will be able to receive tax benefits as a non-profit and strengthen its financial position by helping to save about $30,000 annually. "Every dollar saved by owning our building can go directly to supporting our mission,” says Trieschmann.
With the purchase will come capital to make improvements to the cafe, as well as other initiates to ensure the long-term viability of the organization. “The opportunity to buy our Central street building will allow us to make upgrades in the cafe and in the kitchen that will have a positive impact on our training program,” says Trieschmann. "We also will have the funds to upgrade the exterior of the Cafe to make it more attractive and functional, and better able to compete in Evanston’s coffee shop market. Finally, we will be saving money the way our new loan is structured, it will reduce our property tax obligation and that’s benefit our program and the organization’s bottom line."
The commitment to buying the building has not gone unnoticed by Curt’s students, according to Trieschmann. "Some of them have said, 'This must mean you are going to be around for awhile.’” she says with a laugh. "Owning our building shows our students and the community that we are serious about what we are doing, we are right where we want to be, and that we aren’t going anywhere. This is our home."