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CRA to give $21,000 boost to new business

By Staff | Oct 21, 2009

The Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency has pledged $21,000 to help a new business owner change the look of an existing structure.
Using the CRA’s facade grant program, Lee Mahatzke is eyeing a former bank behind Carriage Cleaners for the site of his Bahama Mama’s restaurant.
It will be the second location for Mahatzke, who already owns a Bahama Breeze in Bonita Springs.
Mahatzke, who lives in the Cape, said Bahama Mama’s will be a covered, open air structure serving food and drinks at a cheap price.
“I don’t think people are doing it right,” he said. “Some of these places are charging way too much.”
Mahatzke joins Sweetbay Supermarket and several other downtown locales who have taken advantage of the CRA’s facade grant program.
Though the Sweetbay grant has yet to be finalized, the board is expected to approve the application, which will help the supermarket move to its new home on Cape Coral Parkway East.
The board, too, might decide to tweak its facade grant applications, insuring that all applicants include an undecided number of Cape businesses in the bid process.
For Bahama Breeze, Mahatzke is using a Bonita-based contractor for the work. It was the contractor’s license, though, that caught the attention of board members. The license was based in West Palm Beach.
“If the interpretation is that one bid is OK, that wasn’t the intent of the board,” said board member Scott Hertz, who indicated there might be some growing pains in the application process. “We’re getting a lesson learned here, that we need multiple bids to protect the applicant.”
While Mahatzke goes through the permitting process for the city, he envisions Bahama Mama’s as place that will suit the needs of Cape residents looking for an affordable and decent dining experience reminiscent of the islands.
“It’s going to be a nice, clean place. It’ll be under a roof, but completely open,” he said.