A big crowd turned out Friday for a grand re-opening at Bona Sera Cafe in downtown Ypsilanti. The restaurant now has a development liquor license, a tool the state created to help boost economic development.
It costs less than a normal liquor license, but it comes with the requirement that the business owner make at least $75,000 worth of improvements over a five-year period.
Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority Director Tim Colbeck says Red Rock Barbeque across the street from Bona Sera also has a development liquor license, and the two businesses have become a magnet for the downtown.
"It's really positive," Colbeck says. "It's been encouraging, and you can go there on a Saturday night now and you can see a lot of activity. And it's activity that was not in either of those spaces for a considerable amount of time prior."
Among those enjoying a glass of wine at Bona Sera Friday night was Iain Cumming of Chelsea. It was the first time he and his dinner guests had been to the restaurant.
"And we came on the right day. Very nice wine, I have to say."
Bona Sera's bar area is separated from the rest of the restaurant by a feature the owners refer to as a "ball wall" - strings of colorful, round paper lanterns that reach from the floor to the ceiling.
Bona Sera hopes the liquor license will boost business, especially for their downstairs party and banquet space.