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Land Bank Helps Business Keep Local Location

Patrons of Lori’s Kountry Kafe will continue to visit its Foote Avenue location thanks to assistance from the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp.

Last week, the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. discussed how it helped the owner of Lori’s Kountry Kafe, Lori Sampson, acquire the property after it was going to be involved in the Chautauqua County Tax Foreclosure Auction last summer. Gina Paradis, Land Bank executive director, said Land Bank officials have been working with Sampson since the property where the restaurant is located and an adjoining property located behind the business entered the tax foreclosure auction.

“The owner of the property foreclosed on it and (Sampson) got caught up in it,” Paradis said. “She had tried to purchase the property from the former owner. No one wanted to see (Sampson) move her business.”

Paradis said after a couple months of work, land bank officials were able to transfer the property to one of Sampson’s family members who purchased the property so the business can continue operating at 880 Foote Ave.

“It’s something we’ve offered to people before. We’ve done it with residential properties when tenants have wanted to purchase a property,” she said. “It’s always a good outcome. If they can do the renovations and put their money into it, and we are confident they can renovate the property, it doesn’t make sense to move them. It makes sense to keep them at the property.”

Paradis said this is the first time the land bank has helped a tenant of a commercial property acquire the deed. She said land bank officials were notified by town of Kiantone officials, who wanted the business to stay in its current location.

“It would have been a shame if (Sampson), who has invested her own money and put her heart and soul into the restaurant, would have moved,” Paradis said. “That would have been a horrible outcome if she would have lost (the restaurant) during the foreclosure auction.”

Sampson said she is very pleased with the assistance she received from the land bank.

“Gina (Paradis) was so wonderful. She kept me calm when I was really freaking out,” Sampson said. “I didn’t want to (move) again. That was a chore. She worked really hard to get us where we are.”

Sampson said she will continue to renovate the restaurant now that her brother owns the property.

“We’re going to make this place look beautiful. We’re going to do a lot of work,” she said. “I’d put a lot of money into it at the beginning, but then I didn’t do that anymore because I didn’t know if I was going to be here or not. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I’m so glad that I don’t have to move. It stressed me out for a couple of years. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

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