LEBANON, Va. (WJHL) — The City of Lebanon has officially awarded its $50,000 Downtown Restaurant Incentive Grant to one lucky entrepreneur.
After experiencing an increase in the number of grant applicants, the city extended the submission deadline to February 14. City manager Drew Shortt said they had gone from three candidates to nine in just days. He said they were pleasantly surprised by the interest in the grant, attracting many great proposals.
Shortt said it was a tough choice to narrow it down. The first step was to go through nine candidates and choose the top four. Once the top four applicants were selected, they were ranked and the first choice received the grant.
Shortt said city council made the decision Monday night and awarded the grant to Matt Lindamood, the buyer of The Old Mill property.
According to Lindamood, The Old Mill has served as a restaurant in many capacities in previous decades and recently served as a barbecue until 2014.
He said it is a building with a lot of history and it is something the city of Lebanon deserves to see flourish again.
Lindamood and its business partner had bought the property before the grant was announced, but said the grant will help the business thrive. Lindamood and his team are redeveloping the property but will not be running the restaurant when completed. They are looking for a client with a dream of their own that they can bring to life in this space. Once they find that person, they will have full access to the grant money.
“The $50,000 grant will be used for the restaurant. Our money goes into renovations and prep and whatever they see they need more of, they can use the grant for that and mostly for those start-up costs,” Lindamood said.
Teams are currently working on the building with the hope that it will be ready to show off to potential clients by April 1. This particular business model presented by Lindamood is what earned it the top spot with city authorities.
“It was impressive, but it also showed a lot of investment in the city, he bought the building and he bought adjoining buildings to add parking spaces for that and that kind of matches the restoration and downtown vibe that we were looking for,” Shortt said.
There is no doubt that The Old Mill not only holds the history of the town, but also memories for its inhabitants. It is these memories that he wants to bring back and preserve by keeping in place much of the fixtures and style of The Old Mill that they know and love.
While Lindamood has few strings attached for the space’s new tenant, he told News Channel 11 that their concept had to fit the decor of the original Old Mill.
He said it was great to have this opportunity to provide a crucial service to Lebanese who frequent the city center. “To be able to help get it back and provide the community with something like this that I honestly think we’ve needed for a long time means a lot,” he said.
While the grant is not being offered to other applicants at this time, city officials say future opportunities may arise.
“Can we all support them? No, but who says? Small business loans and grants, whatever funds we have, we would love to pass on,” Shortt said.
The goal of this grant is to bring people downtown and keep them there for a while, enjoying all that downtown Lebanon has to offer. Shortt said he believed The Old Mill could make this possible.
The 4,500 square foot property has the potential for lunch, dinner, and even event space.
Lindamood said they will show the property from April 1, but will start advertising it in the coming weeks. He hopes it can be operational in the fall.
For those interested in renting the property, you can contact the Lindamoor Financial Group in Lebanon, in Virginia.