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Batavia council approves grant, loan for new Italian restaurant

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 11:40 p.m. CDT

BATAVIA – The Batavia City Council on Tuesday agreed to provide financial assistance to the owners of a proposed downtown Italian restaurant.

Gaetano’s Batavia, to be located at 15 E. Wilson St. in the former site of The Rhino Room, will receive a $25,000 tax increment financing district grant and a $75,000 loan. The 14-member Batavia council voted unanimously in favor of the assistance Tuesday at its regular meeting.

Gaetano’s Batavia will be an upscale, Italian fusion restaurant, according to a memo on the proposed assistance from Chris Aiston, the city’s economic development consultant. Owners Gaetano and Wendy DiBenedetto have a Gaetano’s location in Forest Park, but said they wanted to open one in Batavia where they live.

The DiBenedettos sought funds from Batavia because they expect improvements and equipment installation at the space to exceed $220,000. Sitting in the council chambers Tuesday, they thanked the city staff and aldermen for their support.

“We very much appreciate their consideration, and we really couldn’t do it without their help,” Wendy DiBenedetto said.

A large portion of the renovations include creating a full-service kitchen that would have refrigerators, freezers, ovens and ranges. The DiBenedettos plan to convert the basement into a dining area, in addition to seating at street level, including counter seats, 7th Ward Alderman Dave Brown said.

The restaurant will need upgrades to building plumbing, natural gas, electrical facilities and interior decorating, as well as the installation of multiple oven venting systems and a fire suppression system.

Brown and fellow 7th Ward Alderman Drew McFadden voiced their support for the Gaetano’s Batavia location redevelopment agreement. The agreement includes terms of the grant and the loan, which will be repaid over 60 months and carry an annual interest rate of 2.75 percent.

“It’s certainly another sign of the revitalization of downtown that we’re all committed to,” Brown said before the vote.

With the vote complete, the DiBenedettos said they await liquor license approval, as well as a permit to begin construction. They plan to come up with other resources to pay the remaining $120,000 in costs.

The DiBenedettos said they are moving slightly behind schedule for a March 1 opening, but they expect to open sometime that month.

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