MEDC loan could support new fondue restaurant
By Elizabeth Geldermann, for SBT
The Milwaukee Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) has approved an $858,900 loan for a project that could bring a fondue-style restaurant chain to a building that now houses the Tony Roma’s restaurant in Brookfield.
The MEDC loan, for Ruby and Matt Soik of Brookfield Fondue LLC and Swiss Dip LLC for a Melting Pot Restaurant in Brookfield, is awaiting approval from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The MEDC is handling the loan through the SBA’s 504 loan program.
Ozaukee Bank is also participating in the $2,454,000 project, according to the MEDC.
David Latona, vice president of the MEDC, said the Soiks have an accepted offer to purchase the building currently occupied by Tony Roma’s, 19850 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield. Becky Cababa, owner of that Tony Roma’s, was not available to comment, and Ruby Soik declined to comment.
But the proposal has already come before Town of Brookfield officials.
"(Brookfield Fondue LLC) officially came before the Architectural Review to revise the palette of exterior finish materials, such as to change the awning and colors on the building, including exterior signage and color," said Gary Lake, building inspector and zoning administrator for the Town of Brookfield. "The committee approved the changes with minor modifications."
Lake said he suspects any offers on the property were dependent on the loan approval and that Brookfield Fondue LLC is moving forward with the proposal to acquire the building.
The Melting Pot Restaurant is an upscale fondue-style restaurant chain out of Maitland, Fla., according to its Web site (www.meltingpot.com). The growing franchise said it offers a variety of sauces and meats "to take fondue to a whole new level."
Kendra Sartor, media contact for the Melting Pot franchise, said the development in Brookfield is not yet final. According to Sartor, additional issues need to be resolved.
The Tony Roma’s restaurant in Brookfield remains open for business. Steve Smirl, a former director of operations for the restaurant, is now working to open several Zyng Noodlery restaurants in the Milwaukee and Madison markets.
Tony Roma’s is owned by Dallas-based Romacorp Inc., a company that has been having financial challenges, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI) and CBS MarketWatch (cbs.marketwatch.com). MarketWatch said Romacorp’s restaurant sales in June 2003 were 9.3% lower than in June 2002. However, the report stated franchisees of Tony Roma’s opened six restaurants in the financial quarter ending June 29, 2003, and closed five.
Oct. 31, 2003 Small Business Times,Milwaukee