Riverfront Cafe well on its way

Published 5:00 am Saturday, May 17, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- The two women who on April 23 began renovations on the H.I.'s building on Front Street in downtown Niles, aren't just renovating a building.
Gerri Klinck and Tammy Watson, who said they are investing up to $500,000 on their project, that, apart from upgrading and improving all facilities will retain the buildings original character, are also sending a signal to the community.
She said numerous times people have asked the two, who first met six years ago, why they didn't just open up a cafe on Grape Road in Mishawaka Ind., where there are more people and the likelihood of success would be greater.
Watson said she and Gerri, who started talking about opening up a cafe two to three years ago, are committed to the community and now want to do something special for it.
When the new cafe that will be named the Riverfront Cafe opens, hopefully sometime at the end of July, area patrons will have a new haven to visit.
That haven will include a restaurant, an outdoor patio with 20-tables (seating between 80-100 people) on the corner of Front and Sycamore streets, a baby grand piano, internet connected computers, an upstairs meeting--- room for local organizations and businesses, a gift shop, pinball machines, as well as a room students can use for studying.
In the morning, the cafe will serve muffins, bagels and baked goods, Watson said.
The cafe will also have a rich selection of desserts, cheesecakes, fruit smoothies, espresso based drinks, teas, wine and imported bottled beer.
The two hope local musicians will come to play on the grand piano but said they will hire in bands to play.
They also said local artists will have a new place to display their work.
Which is why the cafe is designed to cater for, in addition to local artists, cafe-goers and families, business people.
Watson said the cafe will have a wireless Internet connection so that business people can sit down and work at the cafe.
Klinck said that is also one of the reasons they have tried to create a space that will be inviting, maybe a little more up-scale, but without being snooty.
Parking won't be an issue since Klinck and Watson have come to an agreement with Federal Credit Union about a now grass-covered lot across Sycamore Street.
Their opening of the new cafe also means the city will receive a $225,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation that will be used on street scape on Front Street.