House Cafe reopens but awaits liquor license

By Carl Nadig

DeKalb | The House Cafe’s staff brewed the first cups of coffee at 6 a.m. May 23 during the cafe’s early morning reopening.

The public was invited to see the restaurant’s interior, including new wooden floors for the elevated balcony, additional tables and an extended stage.

Since October, The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway, has been undergoing a transitional period while finding new owners. On March 18, Cortland residents Brian and Alex Fausett signed a lease with the property’s owner, Fareed Haque.

“I like coming here,” said Scott Kalas, 58, of Cortland. “They have great coffee, the Barbed Wire, and some great music. It’s typically quiet during the daytime hour, so you can kind of focus.”

While the cafe has coffee, breakfast items, books, artwork and music, patrons may notice their isn’t alcoholic beverages. The business cannot sell alcoholic beverages without a local liquor license.

“Applications can take 45 to 60 days to review if they are very complicated or significant applications,” said DeKalb city attorney Dean Frieders. “Some applications take even longer if the owners are doing a number of building modifications in order to obtain a license … . The requirements include things like you can’t make the liquor sales area pass-through. It can’t be a circumstance where if I want to get to the pharmacy, I’d have to walk through the liquor department to get there.”

The House Cafe was “permitted to continue its current operations and … shall be deemed to qualify for a PENP license with a licensure agreement governing its terms of operation…,” according to DeKalb’s revised Chapter 38 Code; however, because liquor licenses are not transferable, that license expired when the previous owner, Jan Pascolini, decided not to renew her lease at the location. Since then, the Fausetts have been updating the cafe’s floor plan in order to qualify for a restaurant license.

Some downtown business owners are happy to see their neighbors coming back.

“It is my opinion that having a closed store that is dark and not generating business is not good for anyone in the downtown area,” said Debbie Witmer, co-owner of O’Leary’s Restaurant and Pub at 260 E. Lincoln Highway. “I’m sure clients are thrilled they’re opening, and I wish them the best of luck.”