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Sassafras on Main opens in historic Bluffton home with SBA 504 funding from MarkleBank & Indiana Statewide CDC
A landmark dining destination on Bluffton reopens Monday (May 21) with a new name and new owners.

Sassafras on Main, owned by Chuck and Sue Kristek, is in the 1902 American Revival house on State Road 1 that was the Rittenhouse Restaurant for generations and operated briefly as Rosewood on Main.

Chuck Kristek says, "The place is fantastic! Beautiful surroundings and wonderful food in a family atmosphere. It's like a step back in time, but Sassafras on Main is a modern restaurant with a varied menu. We feel Sassafras is a fresh take on rooted traditions."

The Kristeks bought the building and purchased and installed new equipment with financing from the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan program provided by MarkleBank and Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation.

Indiana Statewide CDC works with local lenders to provide SBA 504 loans to owners of expanding companies. Congress created the SBA 504 program so owners of small businesses could get long-term, fixed rate financing with lower down payments similar to financing commercially available for large companies.

Steve Habig of MarkleBank says, "Sassafras on Main is perfect for the SBA 504 program because it allows our bank to finance the reopening of an historic restaurant location. The SBA 504 program is a 'win-win' for the bank and the borrower. The customer needed to fund only 15 percent of the purchase price. Conventional financing typically requires at least 25 percent."

Since 1986, SBA 504 loans have funded over $62 billion to more than 130,000 small businesses in the U.S. In turn, those small firms have created or retained over 2.1 million jobs.

Executive Director Jean Wojtowicz says that the Indiana Statewide CDC has invested more than $385 million in 1.012 Indiana companies since 1983, creating or saving 26,500 jobs. Indiana Statewide CDC is the leading SBA 504 lender in Indiana.

Sue Kristek says, "MarkleBank and Indiana Statewide CDC were easy to work with and responsive throughout the process."

The American Revival home, now housing Sassafras on Main, was built in 1902 for a local pharmacist who intended it as a showplace for northeast Indiana. Most recent generations recall it as the Rittenhouse Restaurant owned by George and Nina Rittenhouse.

Sassafras on Main serves a full menu for lunch and dinner. An adjacent 250-seat banquet hall accommodates large parties such as a recent wedding rehearsal dinner and a prom party, both reserved before the restaurant's formal opening. A breakfast for 125 Bluffton High School seniors and dinner for 100 cancer survivors highlight the first few days of Sassafras on Main's opening.

Chuck Kristek is a veteran restaurant operator, having managed Cheddar's, Panera Bread and El Azteca, as well as being a classically trained chef. Sue has a diversified background, with many years in banking and strong customer service skills.

Although Sassafras on Main is a new name, one more note on continuity with the restaurant's history: the Rittenhouse family lived upstairs, as will Chuck and Sue Kristek.

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