We are very excited to call the Fenton Fire Hall a customer and recently had the opportunity to chat with Curt Catallo, co-owner of the business, about their experience working with us!
[The State Bank]: Why did you select The State Bank as your partner for your newest venture?
[Curt Catallo, Fenton Fire Hall]: For us, working with The State Bank fit our approach to everything we do: first and foremost, we love to keep things local. Although it’s not quite like buying potatoes, beer or beef, there is something very important to working with local banks. We’ve always believed in the strength of a community approach. So, when we were fortunate enough to be selected for the Fenton Fire Hall project, it made sense to look across the street when we started to look for a funding partner. We knew very early on that The State Bank had more than just a Fenton address--they had a commitment to the community that allowed them to understand our desire to do the same. It also helped that the service to the community went beyond banking. Tom Bertschy brought special knowledge of the project to the table -- he knew what this building meant to Fenton. He served on the DDA board and from where he was sitting, he could see two things: the city of Fenton’s belief in the new use of the former Fire Hall, and our desire to be the ones who were selected to take it on. And since he’d already witnessed our pony show at the DDA meetings, we didn’t have to do our song and dance twice. I don’t think anyone would want to sit through our pitch twice!
[The State Bank]: Was there anything special that your lender or the Bank did for you that was unexpected?
[Curt Catallo, Fenton Fire Hall]: I think that what made the partnership special, maybe not altogether unexpected, is that The State Bank wasn’t overly surprised by the unexpected. When you make repurposing old buildings part of your purpose—as Union Joints does—you are bound to find some obstacles in your path. And all old buildings have some obstacles to share with you. I think we were all surprised that Tom Bertschy and Craig Johnson from The Bank weren’t frightened on some of the job site tours. These restaurants always take shape at the eleventh hour and Fenton was no exception. We all had a good idea of what Ann (Stevenson), my wife and our designer, had planned for the space: but it took some imagination and trust on their part to understand that these things go from hair-in-curlers to a prom date in a hurry. The Bank did a great job of imagining what the cake would look like with frosting on it… and trusting that Ann and the Joints crew knew how to frost a cake! I think the fact that we used a local general contractor, Bren-Mar, helped a lot, too. The Bank knew that we were keeping the responsibility and the money here in Fenton, and they knew that Brent Williams’ office was just across the street. There’s no substitute for accountability and keeping it local is always a great step toward building that kind of trust.
[The State Bank]: Would you recommend your lender or The State Bank to others looking for a Commercial Bank?
[Curt Catallo, Fenton Fire Hall]: For a restaurant like us, a commercial banking partner is as important as our line chefs, servers, bussers, bartenders, barracks and hostesses. You simply can’t operate unless you have a partner that understands the complexities of a complex business and can support your commitment to it. We’re lucky to have a bank that’s on board--and we are glad to be on board with The State Bank. We’d definitely recommend them to someone who's looking for a commercial lender. That is, unless they’re looking to repurpose a fire hall into a restaurant—we want to be the only one of those around.
[The State Bank]: Tell us a few facts about your business that you would want to share with the readers of this publication.
[Curt Catallo, Fenton Fire Hall]: I know I speak for partners Erich (Lines), Ann (Stevenson), Chef Aaron Cozadd and the entire crew when I say that we’re honored to be in Fenton and are proud to have earned the right to repurpose such an important building. We don’t take the commitment of State Bank or the support of this community lightly and are going to work to not let Fenton down. We’re also going to feed them well.
Thanks to Curt for taking the time to chat with us! Be sure to check out the Fenton Fire Hall for dinner soon. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday and 4-9 p.m. Sunday. (201 S. Leroy; 810-936-0442; www.fentonfirehall.com. Be sure to check out their Facebook page too!)