Liberty Township woman says that she is going to stay focused
Lisa Bernard-Kuhn reports:
Liz Rogers is still hoarse.
The executive chef and owner of newly opened Mahogany’s at The Banks has been calling out endless orders for hand-breaded catfish, fried green tomatoes, grits and smothered pork chops.
“At one point, we were on a three-hour wait for a table,” Rogers said Monday.
Since Mahogany’s launched a “soft” opening three weeks ago, Rogers has been pulling 15-hour days to work out the kinks and prep for a grand opening in mid-September.
When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s training her 40 employees, meeting with vendors and putting the finishing touches on her 130-seat restaurant.
The pressure to succeed is immense.
Mahogany’s is Cincinnati’s first upscale soul food restaurant.
But even before it opened, Rogers’ $984,000 financing deal from the city of Cincinnati also made Mahogany’s one of the region’s most talked-about new restaurants.
Details about Rogers’ past financial troubles stirred debate among City Council members and others about the propriety of giving her startup help.
Rogers and her husband, Trent, have since made good on back property taxes, and the couple has a payment plan in place to pay off $49,000 owed to the IRS.
Rogers has the next 10 years to pay back a city loan of $300,000, which she obtained by putting up $1.3 million in collateral, including her restaurant in Hamilton.
She received a separate $684,000 federal grant available to small business owners for projects like this. She used the grant to finish out her 3,200-square-foot space.
Rogers, 42, has said her financial issues were disclosed along with all relevant credit information during a yearlong negotiation with city leaders. It started with an invitation to come to The Banks by City Manager Milton Dohoney. (more…)