Regulars help with Internet cafe move
By Julio Urdaneta, The Journal Times
RACINE, WI, USA - Access Point, the Internet and LAN games cafe, is ready to open today at its new location, 2500 S. Green Bay Road.
The move came about quickly after Regency Mall refused to renew the store's lease. Owner Rick Davies and his two partners, Robert Fellows and Greg Hancock, rushed to find a new place to avoid losing out on the store's most profitable season.
The cafe's new home, in the former Gateway Computer store across the street from the mall, was made habitable with some help of some Access Point regulars.
"I probably moved half the other store, including the vending machine," said Nick Dahnert, 24, an Access Point customer.
Davies said he is still confused about the mall management's abrupt decision to not renew the store's lease.
"We were not perfect angels," Davies said. "We got behind in rent up to $16,000 approximately. The part that irritates me and my partners is that they were still extremely cooperative with us, extremely cordial and friendly about the whole thing. They realized we are a start-up business, and they kept working with us."
At one point, mall administrators asked the owners to pay the remaining $8,500 in 24 hours or leave, Davies said.
"We paid it," Davies said, "and asked if we were going to have our lease renewed."
According to Davies, the partners were told by Rob Rasmussen, district manager of Regency Mall, that the mall's management would have not problem renewing the store's lease if the payment was made.
But a 45-minute conference call between Davies, Rasmussen and Cindy Knapp, another mall official, didn't help to solve the problem.
"All they said is this is just business, we can't keep going this way, we are going to put an end to the inevitable," Davies said.
Access Point closed on June 29 at the mall location and started the move across the street.
"I had my eye on the (former Gateway) store from the very beginning," said Davies, "but it was too large. There was no way we could afford it and at that time there was no plan of a second tenant sharing the space."
When the decision came from Regency officials, Davies called the owner again and this time there was already a tenant in part of the space. They immediately took the other half.
Their landlord, Byron Frenz, has been very cooperative with Access Point, Davies said.
"He has been a godsend to us," Davies said. "He is not only our landlord, but has become an unofficial business consultant."
About 15 to 20 Access Point regulars lent a hand with the wiring of the new facility and the relocation process, according to Dahnert.
Chris Henry, 52, printed several commercial banners for Access Point. He and his son, 14-year-old Adam, are regulars at the store. His interest in computers and eventually online games brought him to Access Point.
"It's enormously helpful for the kids," he said, "to have a place like this, a safe environment where they can play their games."