As co-owner of the busy bar and restaurant [email protected] Corner, Damien Cortez has the usual worries of running a seven-day-a-week food business: Will the new craft beer keg order get here before the rush? Will a cook call in sick? Will the booked band actually show up?
The one thing that Cortez and his wife, Tiffany, don’t fret over is their landlord. They know the rent won’t suddenly spike and force them to close. In fact, all through the COVID 19 pandemic, the Taproom received much needed rent relief. As did their fellow businesses located in the Bayview Cash Store.
That’s because their landlord is not a person but an organization called Goosefoot. Since 1999, this nonprofit has been committed to developing properties in the Bayview neighborhood of South Whidbey to best serve the community, local merchants, and economic growth in general.
Goosefoot has assumed the role of landlord to a diverse roll call of tenants located in three locations: the Bayview Cash Store, Bayview Center, and the Sears House. “We have around 20 tenants at any given time,” according to Goosefoot’s executive director Sandy Whiting. “First time business owners have turned out to be a sub-specialty of ours,” she says laughing. “Currently we have 11 tenants who have either never owned a business or a storefront before.
The Cortezes, first time businesses owners, doubt the Taproom at Bayview Corner could thrive — or even exist— without the help of Goosefoot.
“When we were first getting the space set-up, Goosefoot was very excited for us, Cortez said. “Goosefoot was instrumental in getting the business set up, offering any help they could.
“They’ve always been a huge cheerleader for us.”
Over the years, Goosefoot has become well versed in the unique needs of new businesses, according to Fredde Butterworth, Goosefoot’s facilities and property manager. “We’ve offered rent breaks for those opening during slow months, paid for improvements that would usually fall to tenants, and offer free marketing assistance through group advertising and social media posts. Our team works closely with new owners to make sure they put their best foot forward on opening day.”
The Taproom is one of numerous businesses within The Cash Store, originally a general store and hub of community and commerce since 1924. It sits on the corner of Bayview Road and Marshview Avenue between Langley and Freeland.
Goosefoot purchased the building in 1999 and renovated it with local merchants and food businesses in mind.
With a loan from Whidbey Island Local Lending, a network of islanders with money to invest in business startups, the Cortezes opened the Taproom on June 4, 2014 to a line snaking around the building.
Both raised on Whidbey Island, the couple are instilled with go-getter attitudes that match the philosophy of Goosefoot. Both are committed to bringing far-flung rural neighbors together and both can be credited with bringing a buzz back to Bayview.
Goosefoot owns 17 acres at Bayview Corner and Bayview Center, purchased over the last two decades. On the corner of a 4-acre parcel, is an old Sears kit home that the organization moved from Greenbank Farm and renovated into office spaces in 2002. Sold as Sears Modern Homes between 1908 and 1940 by Sears, Roebuck and Co., the Bayview structure is one of 70,000 kit houses ordered by catalog and delivered by rail car across the country.
Patrick Moll-Nevins says his clients feel relaxed and comfortable in the cozy interior of the Sears house, circa 1914.
A licensed clinical social worker, Moll-Nevins says Goosefoot not only created a unique counseling space but also made it possible for him to set up his own practice in a new location.
“Goosefoot has provided me with an excellent office space at a reasonable rate with terms that mitigated the start-up risk so that I can effectively deliver my services to the community,” he said.
The organization embraces and encourages its tenants toward success, Moll-Nevins said. “As a small business owner in the past I have felt isolated and unsupported. This has not been the case at Goosefoot,” he said. “They have provided me with every opportunity to succeed as a business owner and as a provider of much needed services to our community.
written by Patricia Guthrie