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Lancaster County coffee businesses expand with state loan

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Prince Street Café expects to open its new 2 W. Market St., York location in September.
Prince Street Café expects to open its new 2 W. Market St., York location in September. - (Photo / )

Two staples of the downtown Lancaster coffee scene are getting state loans to expand their operations, with one crossing the Susquehanna River into York.

Prince Street Café LLC and Passenger Coffee Roasting LLC expect to move into new facilities this year after being approved for low-interest loans from the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority, or PIDA.

Passenger, a specialty coffee roaster in the city, will move its production facility to Plum Street and open a second café. Prince Street Café will be opening a second location on Continental Square in downtown York.

Both companies are subsidiaries of Commons Companies, whose other businesses  include Blue Line, a café at Franklin & Marshall College; Merrymaker, a catering service; and Commissary,  a production kitchen and bakery. Commons employs over 85 people overall.

On Friday, Prince Street Café signed a 10-year lease for a location on the first floor of 2 W. Market St. also known as the Rupp Building. Commons Company co-founder Kyle Sollenberger said that a York location has been a goal for Prince Street Café for years and will be the company’s first spot outside of Lancaster County.

“This new location is a growing and thriving community,” Sollenberger said, adding that the location in York is similar to the café’s Lancaster location. “We love urban cores where there is a strong arts community and there is a lot happening in the arts here and in our location in York.”

The state Industrial Development Authority will lend $200,000 for the approximately $400,000 project on a seven year loan at a 3.75 percent interest rate. With that loan, the café will outfit the new building for an opening this September. Prince Street Café expects to hire new employees in the York market, according to Sollenberger.

Commons also plans to create a second location for its catering company, Merrymaker, in the 4,200-square-foot space.

Meanwhile, Commons’ specialty coffee roaster, Passenger, will be moving into a new Plum Street location this September that the company bought last year. Passenger is receiving a $220,000, 15-year loan at 2.75 percent interest rate from the state.

Currently the coffee roaster operates at Commons’ headquarters on East Marion Street in Lancaster alongside both Merrymaker and Commissary. Sollenberger said that the new 2,600-square foot building on Plum Street will allow the roaster to increase its production capacity. The roaster also plans to open a café at the new building, which will be Passenger's second retail space along with its location at 7 W. King St.

When Passenger moves in September, Commons’ headquarters will house only Merrymaker and Commissary, giving those businesses room to expand into Passenger’s former space.

The state financing is given to businesses looking to expand, foster job creation and boost their local economies. The most recent batch of loans also include two businesses in Armstrong and Bucks counties.

“When businesses are looking to grow and create jobs, they often need access to capital,” Governor Tom Wolf said in a press release. “PIDA provides that capital at low interest rates, which is especially crucial for small businesses."

Sollenberger said that Passenger and Prince Street Café’s growth wouldn’t be happening without help from the program.

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Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis

Ioannis Pashakis covers health care and Lancaster County. Email him at ipashakis@cpbj.com.

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