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New owners close brewery deal

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Microbrew drinkers of Crescent City may now rejoice.

St. Louis restaurateurs Lori and Ken Cowan closed escrow on the defunct Jefferson State Brewery yesterday and plan to revitalize it as both an eating establishment and brewery, according to Jimmy Csutoras of Ming Tree Real Estate who served as both buyer's and seller's agent in the deal.

The Cowans were not available for comment yesterday, but Csutoras said they hope to have their new business, located on Front and D streets, open sometime in July.

"They have three very successful restaurants in St. Louis," Csutoras said and added that if the success of their other establishments are any indication, the local brewery should be a "hoppin' place."

Jefferson State Brewery, which closed two years ago under the weight of unsurmountable debt, was once viewed as a symbol of hope for Crescent City's economic future.

"The brewery was an investment in the community's future, and we did everything we could to keep it afloat," former Del Norte County Chief Administrative Officer Ben Angove said shortly after the brewery closed.

Previous owners, Bob and Fran Adkins had received loans totaling more than $2 million dollars from the Humboldt Bank, the Small Business Administration, the county, the city, and the Tri-Agency Economic Development Authority.

The brewery also received start-up money from the Del Norte Economic Development Corporation and the Arcata Economic Development Corporation.

The family said they did everything they could to save the business. So did the city, county and other investors.

Eventually, the old brewery, its building and land were sold at auction and purchased by the Small Business Administration in San Francisco for about $800,000.

It has been sitting idle since May, 2000.

According to Csutoras, once the Cowans got wind of the business opportunity, they purchased the brewery, equipment intact, and the land from the SBA in record speed.

After opening escrow Thursday of last week, the deal took one week and a day to close.

"An escrow that short is unusual for any deal, but for a business deal of this magnitude, it's even more difficult to do," Csutoras said.

Lori Cowan said she will share more information about the future restaurant and brewery next week.

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