By KAREN PARKER | County Line Editor
A new restaurant and bar may be coming to Norwalk, according to information revealed at the Aug. 15 Norwalk Village Board meeting.
Mike Donskey told the board he was interested in purchasing the former Lehner Market building from Tom Kotten. The building had been Norwalk’s grocery store for decades, but Lehner sold it to a couple from Washington who allowed it to be returned to the Community State Bank.
The building remained vacant for a number of years, until Kotten purchased it last year and opened a fitness center.
Donskey noted he would not be interested in purchasing the building without a liquor license.
Clerk Sharon Karis pointed out that liquor licenses are issued to the establishment, not individuals. Donskey, she noted, would need to own property in the village.
She also added that the matter was further complicated by the fact that Kotten owes the village delinquent water and sewer bills, along with past due payments on a business block grant loan he had received from the village.
Kotten, who serves on the village board, said once Donskey obtains his financing and sale is final, he will pay all debts owed to the village.
Donskey said his plan includes tearing down some storage buildings behind the old grocery store, and then renovating the building into a bar and restaurant. A kitchen would need to be installed. Donskey said he was uncertain if he would continue to operate the fitness center in part of the building.
Considering the uncertainty of the matter, the board agreed the best it could do was “promise a liquor license provided debts to the village are repaid and all state requirements for the restaurant are satisfied.”
On a related note, the board also issued a liquor license to Tammy Garcia. Garcia formerly had a license for Los Tres Garcias but had allowed it to lapse. She is not operating the business under a new name.
• Madonna Johnson inquired into the possibility of the board paying for some of the medical costs incurred when her mother Lorraine Winchel tripped and fell on a sidewalk obstruction and broke her leg. There was some speculation that the obstruction was caused when a state highway sign was removed. The board agreed to check further on where the liability for the injury might rest.
• All permits are in place, and creek bank restoration should begin shortly.
• A number of sidewalk repairs have been completed.