For the first time in months, Second Chance Saloon co-owner Wendy Binder is looking forward to getting a good night's sleep.
Since December, Binder and co-owner Declan Wood have been on edge after Cedar Realty Trust, landlord of the Oakland Mills Village Center where the restaurant and bar is located, did not offer to renew their lease.
However, Binder said the fitful sleep will end soon because Cedar Realty is expected to tender a long-term lease agreement by the end of the week. Second Chance has operated on temporary extensions since its lease expired in December.
"It's been pins and needles, and until we sign on the dotted line, it will feel that way," Binder said. "It's all looking very positive and good. I feel like I can sleep tonight."
Officials from Cedar Realty Trust declined to comment.
The expected agreement is due, in part, because of loyal customers, community members, the Howard County Economic Development Authority and elected officials – all of whom rallied to support the popular establishment.
Binder said County Council member Calvin Ball, who represents Oakland Mills, was one of the first to advocate for keeping Second Chance in the center.
"Second Chance has become a focal point not only for the Oakland Mills community but the broader Columbia and Howard County community," said Ball, who has met with Cedar on behalf of Second Chance.
"I hear people from all around our region come and visit Second Chance. It's almost like the 'Cheers' of Oakland Mills. It's a gem."
Bill Gray, chairman of the Oakland Mills Village Board, also met with Cedar to help facilitate the anticipated agreement.
Larry Twele, chief executive officer of EDA, said the organization took an interest because Second Chance "is a vital part of keeping the village center vibrant."
"Over 90 percent of the businesses in Howard have fewer than 50 employees," Twele said in an email. "Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. A large part of our mission is to try and help these businesses succeed."
Twele said EDA has provided technical support from its business development team, which has helped Second Chance with advice, analysis, strategies and resources.
Binder is grateful for the support from the community.
"I couldn't have asked for more from everybody," Binder said.
According to Gray and Binder, Cedar initially chose not to offer Second Chance a lease extension because it had concerns about the building's infrastructure.
"Our building is the oldest one in the center," Binder said. "They were looking for a commitment from the community to make sure the investment was sound, and that a tenant was going to work on the inside."
Ball said Cedar "definitely had some concerns" about the building, and that they are "continuing to work through those."
Binder said Second Chance is willing to improve the inside of the restaurant, and cited renovations completed last year to the men's bathroom as evidence of that commitment.
She said the next targeted improvements are to renovate the ladies' room, fix up behind the bar, add three taps and redesign the back of the bar.
"We are committed to doing whatever it takes," Binder said.