EDA approves tax incentive for coffee and wine bar coming to High Street

Staff writer

At is meeting Wednesday, the Williamsburg Economic Development Authority unanimously approved a no-net-loss tax incentive for Tipsy Beans Cafe, a new coffee and wine bar opening on High Street later this year.

Co-owners Andre McLaughlin and Sean Walker said they expect the cafe and restaurant to open this May. The cafe will offer brunch and coffee, along with wine, craft beer and more, they said.

“It’s craft beverages including coffee, beer, wine and spirits, and they’re going to focus on brunch with unlimited mimosas,” Economic Development Director Michele Mixner DeWitt said.

DeWitt said the no-net-loss tax incentive will return half of the taxes that Tipsy Beans Cafe pays during its first year in business or up to $10,000, whichever comes first. She said the taxes involved in the agreement are the 1 percent local portion of the sales tax and the 5 percent meals tax.

“It’s a $10,000 no-net-loss incentive, and as they pay their taxes their first year, they’ll be refunded 50 percent until they hit $10,000 or the year finishes,” she said.

The storefront, located at 1430 High St., Suite 709B, has been empty since Quirks of Art moved from High Street to its new Prince George Street location in April 2017, according to a past Virginia Gazette report.

EDA members agreed the cafe is expected to generate more tax revenue by filling a niche in the city. DeWitt said the business falls under the board’s incentive targets and guidelines because it’s a new local business with potential to increase vibrancy in the city and is filling an empty storefront.

“This is giving back new tax revenue,” EDA Vice-Chairman Rick Overy said. “We’re not giving out money and it does not cost the city anything to do this. In fact, what it does is it allows new businesses to get started.”

DeWitt said the owners of Tipsy Bean first approached the EDA about the tax incentive last summer, and applied for its tax incentive program in December.

Last year, the city approved similar incentives for Ace Hardware when it relocated from the Williamsburg Shopping Center to the Monticello Shopping Center, and for the Precarious Beer Hall, which is expected to open in the Henry Street Shops this June.

Other city businesses under no-net-loss tax incentive agreements with the EDA include Old City Barbeque, Amber Ox Public House and Mellow Mushroom. City Council approved a policy allowing the EDA to grant discretionary tax incentives in August 2014, DeWitt said.

Although the Precarious tax incentive required City Council’s approval, DeWitt said that because the Tipsy Beans Cafe incentive is below $100,000, it only required EDA approval.

Other items of note

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board unanimously approved a $5,268 grant to local business accelerator Ignition for the third-annual Virginia Shark Tank event next month.

The day-long event will come to the Stryker Center on April 27. Taking inspiration from the popular “Shark Tank” television show, contestants at the event will be invited to give an 8-minute presentation to a panel of “sharks,” or qualified local investors who have pledged to invest their money in worthwhile companies at the event.

The $5,268 grant will cover $4,268 in costs to rent out the Stryker Center, along with $1,000 to be spent on promotion materials for the event.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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