Jerry Snow owes $85K on CHEDA financing.

    With the decision to liquidate the equipment and related inventory inside, the days of a coffee bistro being located at 1504 University Avenue in Crookston are officially over.

    “We’ll move on with the sale, and there’s not going to be a coffee bistro in that spot again,” CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said. “We tried twice and it didn’t work.”
    “It’s too bad,” said CHEDA Board President Kurt Heldstab.

    Dawn and Harold Bjorgo owned and operated Cofé at the location for several years but, despite a cool atmosphere and a loyal customer base, they struggled constantly to make it financially and on more than one occasion had to refinance or otherwise change the terms on their loans through CHEDA. Then, last year, they sold the business to Jerry Snow that essentially involved him taking over the business and assuming the Bjorgos’ debt. Snow ran a successful coffee shop and coffee roasting business in Detroit Lakes, Chickadee Coffee Roasters, and he had visions of doing the same in Crookston.

    But it was not to be. The Crookston bistro closed its doors this past July, with, according to Hoiseth, some employees not receiving their final paychecks. They still haven’t been paid, he said Tuesday, adding that he’d heard from more than one of the high school-aged parents, who were and continue to be more than a little irked. But whether it’s back-rent owed by Snow to building owner and landlord Jeff Evers or missed payroll to his employees, Hoiseth and his board members agreed that those are issues Snow needs to address on his own, not CHEDA.

    The missed paychecks “have created a pretty big thorn in a couple people’s sides,” Hoiseth noted.

    What CHEDA is concerned with is in the approximately $85,000 Snow still owes on his CHEDA loan. Hoiseth said it’s been estimated that the bistro’s equipment is worth $47,000, which some around the table said is likely on the high side. Either way, Hoiseth said the equipment has generated some interest among potential buyers, and whatever proceeds are generated will go directly toward the remaining principle owed.

Another venture?
    Hoiseth said Snow has mentioned a potential new business “plan” after the liquidation, but the CHEDA head stressed to his board that he told Snow that any potential business ventures involving Snow and CHEDA would have to be presented to the entire board, not just him.

    Based on comments by board members this week, there’s little appetite to partner with Snow on any business ventures going forward.

    “There’s a pretty glaring integrity issue on his part,” Craig Morgan said. “If he comes back to us with something later on…wow.”

    Hoiseth said he suggested that Snow potentially work with consultant Christine Anderson at the Northwest Minnesota Small Business Development Center (SBDC) if he has some ventures he’d like to pursue down the road.