The nonprofit organization Sun Valley Economic Development wants to bring a new culinary institute to the former Globus restaurant site in Ketchum, and is gearing up to launch a $750,000 fundraising campaign.
SVED Executive Director Harry Griffith appeared before the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency’s board of commissioners and before the Ketchum City Council on Monday to discuss his plans.
Griffith is seeking $10,000 from the city, either through the KURA or the City Council, to boost the $750,000 campaign. The campaign is intended to provide funding for the first five years of the institute.
Neither the City Council nor the KURA board voted on funding the institute Monday.
The project will need to do some minor renovations to the Globus space on First Avenue. The restaurant recently closed, freeing up the building. Griffith said he has a letter of intent with the owners to lease the space for the institute.
He said community fundraising will be essential. The program will be set up as a not-for-profit, and he estimates it will have sufficient cash flow to break even financially in the fourth year of operations.
In a presentation, Griffith said the program has recruited Chris Koetke to be the culinary dean, and Paul Hineman to be the interim executive director. Koetke is vice president of the culinary arts programs at Laureate International Universities, and hosts a cooking show called “Let’s Dish” on The Live Well network. Hineman is an executive vice president with the National Restaurant Association and CFO for First Watch Restaurants.
The program will also hire a culinary director, and has three to four candidates identified, according to Griffith’s presentation.
He said the retrofit could take place in January and February, followed by finalizing the class of students in March. In April, the classes would begin. In May, the institute would formally open.
“We’ve been working on this for quite some time,” Griffith said. “We see this as an opportunity to help the entire hospitality industry.”
Griffith said he has agreements with the Blaine County Housing Authority and Sun Valley Resort to house students at the institute.
The BCHA has rooms at the Lift Tower Lodge in south Ketchum that could house students, and the resort’s dorm rooms could house students who would work for Sun Valley after graduation.
Griffith said he believes it would aid restaurants in the Wood River Valley who are struggling to hire and retain staff, partly due to the extremely high costs of housing in Blaine County. He said the institute could create new restaurants.
“We’ve had three restaurants close in the last few years,” he said. “They’re not opening up. There are issues.”
He said the institute will not operate as a restaurant, so it won’t compete against existing businesses in Ketchum and Sun Valley. But it will have a full liquor license and may open as a bar at night.
He said the nonprofit has a goal of eventually owning the Globus building, but it would need a separate, larger fundraising campaign to accomplish that. Right now, the focus is operating funding.
The City Council debated whether to participate. Griffith said city support would help the broader fundraising campaign.
“We would really like to have you guys with your flag up there on this one,” he said.
Councilman Jim Slanetz did not commit.
“I’m still on the fence,” Slanetz said.
Councilwoman Amanda Breen said it would be a great use of the now-vacant Globus space.
“This has been discussed for years,” Breen said. “It’s a really cool concept. The Globus location is a really great score. It was really great timing.”
Mayor Neil Bradshaw said the city would need to find a way to fund the institute, and define the public benefit created.
“It makes it a little bit harder to find the mechanism,” Bradshaw said.
Councilwoman Courtney Hamilton spoke favorably.
“It’s a win for people who like to go to high-end restaurants,” Hamilton said. “It’s a benefit to our community. Further educational opportunities are something that we lack. Culinary arts play such a key role in the economy. This is something that I would love to see happen.”
The council voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with the developers of an apartment complex on First Avenue and Sixth Street. Slanetz voted against it. The 18-unit project will include three affordable-housing units. The City Council agreed to spend $209,486 to assist development of the complex. City Planning Director John Gaeddert told the KURA board Monday that the developer plans to apply for a building permit in the spring.
The three units will be income category 3, which has a 2018 maximum rent of $811 for a studio and $869 for a one-bedroom unit. The units will be deed-restricted affordable housing for 25 years, according to the agreement.