The Last Unicorn owners seek forgivable loan for new bar

Fred and Amy Ouellette, owners of popular Waterville restaurant The Last Unicorn, have announced plans to open a second restaurant, The Proper Pig. The new eatery and bar will occupy 14 Common Street, a space across from The Waterville Opera House. The pub-style eatery will be housed in a historic building recently purchased by local businessmen Bill Mitchell. Mitchell’s purchase of two downtown properties aligns with Colby’s efforts to revitalize downtown Waterville. The building was previously occupied by The Carousel restaurant, a favorite of Colby alums.

Owners of The Last Unicorn since 2012, The Ouellette’s plan to open The Proper Pig in the next year, but the development of the new venture is contingent on City counselors approving a $25,000 forgivable loan in a hearing on Tuesday, April 19. The City Council has issued two forgivable loans in the past, to Selah Tea and Silver Street Tavern. The two previous loans were successfully paid off within their five-year loan period.

Forgivable loans, conditional upon the creation of jobs and the occupation of vacant spaces, are sums of money given to businesses meeting the previously stated criteria that are only reimbursed with the payment of interest. The majority sum of the loan, in the case of The Proper Pig $25,000, is forgiven and does not require payment.

Forgivable loans are given on the basis of the number of jobs created and on the ratio of income level to debt. According to City Manager Michael Roy in an article on CentralMaine.com, applications for forgivable loans go through a three-step approval process. First, “an independent underwriter for Kennebec Valley Council of Governments reviews the proposals,” second, “the city’s Forgivable Loan Committee reviews them and makes recommendations,” and finally, “the City Council considers approval.”

Waterville’s Forgivable Loan Committee has recommended The Proper Pig’s loan proposal be approved, says Roy. Beginning with an account of $100,000, the Forgivable Loan Committee will have $25,000 remaining if they approve The Proper Pig’s request, leaving room for additional businesses to benefit.

The Proper Pig is the latest venture in the revitalization of Main Street and Downtown Waterville. Colby’s purchase of five buildings in downtown, in conjunction with the College’s commercial real estate development plans, has propelled other parties to get in on the action.

With the mainstream success of The Last Unicorn, Fred and Amy Ouellette saw the revitalization as a possible opportunity. Fred says they are now trying to get ready for the opening and are “excited about what Colby’s doing downtown.” He continues saying, “We are really trying to make [Waterville] funner [sic] for everybody; faculty, students, and locals, and add a new vibe to downtown.”

Aside from the guaranteed fun vibes, Fred and Amy are keeping the details under wraps. The only other information Fred divulged was that the location and proximity to the Opera House would be a factor in the ambiance and feel of the new restaurant/bar. But if The Last Unicorn is any indication, The Proper Pig is sure to be a Waterville winner. Colby sophomore, Addie Bullock says, “its very exciting to see a new restaurant coming into the downtown, especially given Colby and Waterville’s push for a renaissance of the downtown area. The Last Unicorn is one of my favorite spots and it is great to see the family expanding their holdings.”

Upon going to print, the outcome of the loan approval hearing had yet to be announced.