Owner of East Liverpool Winery Receives Loan Extension

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – A loan extension granted by the Community Improvement Corporation should now lead to the opening of a new downtown winery, according to its owner.

Kevin Kerr, who along with his wife, Melissa, owns M&K Wine Co. on Sixth Street, had requested late last year that the CIC extend his loan balance of $30,469.33 from three years to five, which would have lowered the $1,121.91 payment to $561.14, continuing with a 4% interest rate.

During a subsequent Dec. 12 meeting of the CIC’s finance committee, members voted to recommend the full board grant an extension for 72 months instead of the requested 60.

At that meeting, Kerr said renovating the two existing buildings he had purchased for the winery – the former Dan’s Bar and former Pattison’s Jewelry – had proven more extensive and expensive than he had anticipated.

The foundation had to be replaced in one of the buildings when it was discovered to have been damaged by leaking water, and Kerr told the committee he has spent $225,000 on a building that “wasn’t worth it, but we started and can’t turn back.”

In addition to the new foundation, investments were made in new floors, walls and other improvements. “It’s not like we’re not putting money into it,” Kerr said.

Kerr said the money from the CIC is the only loan he has secured for the project.

Committee Chairman Al Fricano said he could support the extension as long as Kerr paid the unpaid interest on the loan. 

“It’s a good idea to help any business downtown that’s struggling,” committee member Dan Dietz said. “He’s put a lot of money in the building, and it looks very nice.” 

Committee member Connie Javens disagreed, asking what Kerr expected to change since he hadn’t made a payment since May. 

“Now I’m over the hump. I can start moving,” Kerr assured her. 

With Javens opposed and committee member Scott Shepherd abstaining as the architect for the project, the committee voted to recommend the full board grant the extension.

However, at the board meeting immediately following, a quorum was not met and the matter was held over until a meeting of the full board Jan. 18.

During that session, it was reported that Kerr’s obligation is now current, and the board voted unanimously, with Shepherd abstaining, to extend the remaining $30,029.26 to the 72 months.

Kerr said after the meeting he hopes to have the winery up and running in late spring or early summer if all his state inspections go as planned.

“If I look back now, I should have just torn down the building and built new,” he said.

Kerr had purchased the buildings for $16,500 from the CIC, which acquired them through a sheriff’s sale for $16,478.

A winery was actually his wife’s dream, and plans call for a wine garden, patio and stage area for entertainment with two 560-gallon tanks in the production area used for fermenting juice from grapes brought from vineyards in California, Ohio and New York, with two smaller tanks on display for use and customer viewing. 

Although plans don’t call for serving meals, the winery will offer charcuterie boards and a food truck.

Pictured at top: M&K Winery on Sixth Street in East Liverpool is set for opening in late spring or early summer. The red brick building at left is being eyed by M&K Winery owner Kevin Kerr as a possible microbrewery.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.