If you’re looking for a new coffee spot in town, you can look forward to reuniting with an old favorite on West State Street!
Before COVID-19, Café 128 was a favorite spot for locals and elected officials alike. Unfortunately, like many businesses, the pandemic proved too much, and the beloved café shut its doors. Now, Taraun Tice, her husband, and business partner are bringing new life to the property and restoring it to its former glory. To celebrate the opening, Mayor Reed Gusciora and Councilwoman Jennifer Williams gathered to highlight the improvements made at Café 128, which have been co-financed by the City of Trenton through the Trenton Business Improvement Incentive Program.
The Trenton Business Improvement Incentive offers grants of up to 50% of total project cost, grants to not exceed $20,000, to businesses operating within retail space planning to make building improvements, with a minimum project cost of $5,000. Improvements to Café 128 included waterproofing the café from moisture intrusion, repairing the retaining wall, installing a drainage system, and repairing two sets of stairs (the landing areas and roof soffits). Once all improvements are complete, Café 128 will begin gearing up to open its doors to the eager public.
Per Mayor Gusciora’s statement, “This is the old Café 128 that was open before the renovations of the executive wing. As that becomes completed, the street will be relevant for foot traffic from the Governor’s office and beyond. “We have a business incentive program administered by Eric Maywar of the Housing and Economic Development office. And this is another indicator that Trenton is open for business, and we’d like to step up. When business people want to do things but need that extra dollar, we have $300,000 set aside. We’ve spent $100,000 on businesses throughout Trenton; we have another $200,000. So if business people want to borrow up to $20,000, and hopefully there’ll be a grant program with it, we’re willing to lend that to support our business community.”
Attendees also heard from Taraun Tice, the new owner of Café 128. Per Tice, “We purchased 128, which has been a critical component of this street economically when the cafe existed maybe two years ago. But as we all know, COVID kills, and businesses and economies are stifled. So, our hope and we intend to reopen the café and drive economic development, as we all know it’s essential, particularly in our downtown area. So bringing businesses here, allowing Trenton this surge, revitalizing our community, and ensuring that we have profitable businesses and services available for our people supports Trenton all the way. So we’re very excited to bring a business back to Trenton and the community at the downtown area where we work and spend our money.”
Tice continued, “This is the opportunity to provide these services and contribute to the Trenton community as we love and intend to do. So again, thank you so much to the city’s Mayor, to Eric and his team, for all of you who gathered today. In addition, we have members of the Trenton Downtown Association, who we will be in partnership with, who are also great drivers of the progress here in Trenton. So we thank you for using these loans to support local businesses in Trenton, it is a blessing, and that should be shined on and highlighted all over the city about what you can do for minority-owned businesses in this area.”
Attendees also had the chance to hear from Jennifer Williams, the newly-elected Councilwoman of the North Ward. Williams stated, “I want to say how proud I am to have this business starting back with minority ownership in the Northward. It’s very, very important. Thank you to Eric [Maywar], the TDA, and our administration, because they’re rebuilding our city one business at a time. Coming out of COVID is so important. I remember what it was like before, and I can’t wait to come back again to buy my iced mochas. I wish you good luck, and I’m sure everyone in the city will be proud that you’re here. I will encourage everyone to patronize your business as soon as possible.”
After the speeches concluded, Mayor Gusciora turned over a check for $17,314.88, so the new owners could start on renovations. Trentonians far and near will no doubt stay tuned for a more exciting announcement regarding the progress and eventual reopening of Café 128. With every business restored, our city comes closer to recovering from COVID-19 and moving confidently ahead to a brighter future. Here’s to the iced coffees and improvements ahead!