ECHO - Seven residents of Echo met in the town's small grocery store and founded the Echo Community Hospitality Organization to explore the possibility of rebuilding the Echo Restaurant and Bar that burned down last August.
"We're very early in this process," said newly-elected president Rick Hanson. "We're exploring options and avenues. Of a thousand steps I'd say we were at step two."
Step one was taken at a general community meeting on March 20 where the committee was chosen to begin looking into replacing the institution that stood at the center of Echo's civic life for decades.
Photo by Steve Browne
Seven residents of Echo formed the Echo Community Hospitality Organization earlier this week to look at the possibility of rebuilding the Echo Restaurant and Bar that burned down last August.
It won't be easy. There is a Limited Liability Corporation to be formed, money to be raised, and then it has to find someone who would like to put some of his or her own money into the project and run it.
"It'll take about $500,000," said committee member Chris Borning. "My mom's been in the restaurant business for over 20 years, and that's what she said just from doing a new renovation."
Borning said his aunt once owned the Echo restaurant before the last owner Lynae Marotzke bought it. Marotzke was not at the meeting and her future participation is uncertain at this point.
The committee agreed there was no suitable building in Echo that could be remodeled, and only about three suitable vacant lots, including the restaurant's original site across the street from the grocery store.
The consensus of the meeting, as expressed by treasurer Kathy Busack, was to explore ways to raise the bulk of the money, including volunteer labor and material donations, and try to find someone willing to put in some of his or her own money.
"We should try building it and offering a year lease with an option to buy," Busack said.
What everyone agreed on was they wanted a place like the original - a restaurant that serves food that would bring people to town with an on-off sale liquor license.
Newly elected vice president Scott Parsons said the first order of business was to get about $1,000 of seed money to hire a lawyer to draw up the incorporation papers.
"Next we have to go to the city council meeting April 17 and present the idea," Hanson said. "Then we should have another community meeting."