By Jef Rietsma
A nationally recognized coffee chain hoping to break into the Vicksburg market will have a fair amount of information to present when its plan goes before municipal officials.
During the Vicksburg Planning Commission’s Oct. 9 meeting, discussion centered on Biggby’s proposed location at 215 E. Prairie St., the northwest corner of East Prairie and North Richardson streets.
Before planning commission members discussed the proposal, however, a local businessowner expressed concerns about the magnitude of competition Biggby’s would pose.
Mezanmi Play Café owner Renee Janofski, a lifelong Vicksburg resident, told planning commission members Biggby would be detrimental to Mezanmi and other locally owned businesses.
“It would probably be the beginning of the end for our business as a coffee shop and as a play area. We have three main sources of revenue: Coffee is our number 1 source of revenue, the play area is our second source of revenue and then birthday party rentals is our third,” she said. “Vicksburg has been a great space, we’ve been supported here, our coffee sales are just starting to take off … bringing in a Biggby across the street from us would be like bringing in a Meijer to Family Fare. It just doesn’t make sense for our small village.”
Janofski said she opened Mezanmi in Vicksburg three years ago. A second location, opened last year in Mattawan, was closed in October.
Village Council members in September expressed concerns about the proposed Biggby’s, focusing their apprehension on traffic patterns into and out of the drive-through property. It was noted that the busiest time of day would likely coincide with student drop-off at nearby Vicksburg Middle School, a situation that presents a congested but short-lived traffic situation in the area of Prairie and Richardson.
Village Manager Jim Mallery shared with the planning commission a summary of communication the village has made with Biggby officials and the proposed site’s developer.
“There’s 14 different points that have been communicated to the development team of Biggby’s, as well as (an) engineering memorandum from a zoning perspective … as well as having our engineers dig in behind the scenes as we work with any potential developer,” Mallery said. “So, there has been communication, again, on 14 different points with the development (of) Biggby’s.”
Mallery continued: “I want to assure the Planning Commission and the public that it is looked at from the lens of legality of what the ordinances require for the village of Vicksburg and proceed in that manner.”
Mallery said he expected a response from developers by mid-October. There’s a good chance, he noted, the matter could appear before the Planning Commission at its Nov. 13 meeting.
In an unrelated matter, Mallery provided an update on construction of the new village office. He said the current time frame shows the facility will be completed in December and village meetings will likely start taking place there in January.