La Mano Coffee Bar Coming to Takoma Raising Money for Huge Pepco Bill

304 Carroll Street, NW

Back in Dec. 2012 we learned La Mano Coffee Bar was coming to Takoma. A reader sends word that they’ve started an indiegogo fundraising campaign:

Having already raised the vast majority of capital needed to open, we are seeking $15,000 to help ensure a timely opening and smooth transition into full operational status. We want to make sure we are fully powered, well-staffed and ready for the enthusiastic crowds from day one. Your funds will help us open our doors by:

Covering costs to connect to the electrical service from the public domain outside our front door into our meter inside. We, the small business owners, are responsible for paying Pepco to “flip the switch”. The price to do that is set at their discretion and their time frame. We do not receive any reimbursements, credits, or breaks for paying for this neighborhood improvement, from either our landlord, the city, or Pepco itself. We owe them over $10,000 within 30 days or we will lose permit approval of our request and have to start over from the beginning of the permit process again.

Covering payroll for the hiring and training of our employees. We expect to create eight to ten new jobs in Ward 4 of Washington, D.C.

You can make a contribution and see the rewards here.

17 Comment

  • Hmmm…I think I’d need more info on this before donating. I’m surprised the landlord isn’t responsible for access to electric and the tenant is responsible for the usage.

    • It sounds like the tenant needs a larger feeder than what is there. Tenants are typically responsible for modifying the space to suit their needs, e.g. when a new restaurant builds a kitchen and bar in an empty space. The landlord just has to approve of the modifications being made.

      I once had to get WashGas to upgrade their service line to a business in Gallery Place. It involved digging up part of 7th St. and relocating the meters to the opposite end of the block. The building owner wasn’t involved in the process at all.

  • Isn’t electrical (and other utility services) required for a property to be leased?
    Feel badly but clearly someone didn’t do their due diligence.

    • I think in a commercial setting you can pretty much set whatever terms you want. If the lease states that the tenant is responsible for all aspects of build-out, including connection to local utilities, then that’s probably the end of the discussion. Many tenants aren’t able to afford such up-front costs, so often a landlord will include a construction allowance and then just recoup those costs over time as rent payments.

      • Anonymous is correct. No services are required for a property to be leased. In our case, after looking at dozens of properties over the past two years, none of which had pre-existing utility services, and none of which offered construction allowances, we decided to go with the location that we liked the best and that was estimated to be within our budget for a buildout. We understand the reasons for why people do not want to contribute to a private business venture, and were resistant to the idea ourselves. But, after encouragement from members of the community who began offering their donations, we decided to make it official and give people rewards for their contributions.

  • Good Lord, didn’t they anticipate this expense? You have to have electricity. This doesn’t bode well for a lasting business.

  • If you’ve been following their progress, you’d know that they’ve been actively trying to get Pepco to connect them to the grid for months. They’ve had them on a 6+ month long waiting list, which is completely unacceptable and I’m sure draining on their capital. They do have electricity into the building, but not commercial-grade service.

    I’m happy to see that Ceremony Coffee Roasters is supporting them with coffee and class donations to help with this effort. I know I’ll be donating to help them open (and get a coffee class out of it!)

    • PoP: (Also, a typing HTML issue: I did two returns here to have a break in the paragraph, but only one return appeared)

  • Eff Pepco. Regardless of whether or not they anticipated this expense, that’s a ridiculous amount of money. I’ll gladly donate. I’d rather fork out some of my own cash than have them take out a loan on top of which they end up paying an egregious interest rate that puts them in debt and shudders their business in just a few short years. We want corporations like Walmart to stay out of our city? Then we have to be willing to help out our small businesses. I give them credit for asking the community. We all reap the benefits of successful small businesses in our neighborhoods. I’m sure they will not only pay us back in delicious treats and beverages, but in other ways as well, once they’re settled in.

    • I don’t know…$10,000 to replace the feeder from somewhere in the right-of-way to an interior meter sounds pretty reasonable. Especially since the utilities appear to be buried for that property.

  • Give your donors some equity in the business. You’ll probably meet your fundraising goal in no time at all.

  • andy

    Has anyone ever built a gas-powered espresso machine?

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