It took seven years, but the city has finally found a use for downtown's replica 1888 Train Depot.
Last week the City Council picked Savvy Cellar Wines, Inc. to lease the structure, which was built in 2002 for the city's centennial celebration. Savvy Cellar plans to operate a wine bar out of the building similar to a business it runs in Redwood City.
City manager Kevin Duggan said Savvy Cellar has been interested in the site for several years and has been on the council's short list of prospective tenants. The council has been in discussion with owners Jennifer Ayre and Brent Harrison since November, when a deal fell through with local restaurant operator Christine Tran.
After several closed sessions during which the council discussed the company's finances, among other things, the choice was made official at last week's council meeting.
"We are, and have always been, the right business for the train station in Mountain View," Ayre said in an e-mail in November. "We have a proven track record and business plan. We have not, and will not, go out of business." The owners would not comment more recently because a lease had not been signed yet.
Savvy Cellar plans to serve wine and "light foods" and to sell wine by the bottle. The company may also use the space to teach its highly regarded classes on wine. The company plans to open the new location on Nov. 1 this year.
The previous deal with Tran fell through last year. She planned to serve beer, wine, "artisan cheese" and Acme bread along with delicacies made at her restaurant, which closed last year shortly after she was selected.
The city will get $30,000 a year in rent from Savvy Cellar for the first five years of the 10 year lease. Once the lease is signed, the city will give Savvy Cellar $225,000 for tenant improvements to the inside of the 1,100-square-foot "ticket office" space, which lacks sheetrock and appropriate plumbing and electrical. The deal also includes use of a portion of Centennial Plaza for seating.
"They have been very successful in Redwood City," where they are known as good "community members," said city manager Kevin Duggan.