Local restaurant asks customers to invest through bonds

MADISON, Wis. — A local restaurant is looking back at history to help foresee a future.

Cadre on University Avenue is selling restaurant bonds to customers who want to support their business while temporarily closed.

“We wanted something that reminded people that we were focused on reopening and the future and doing what we do,” Chef and Owner Evan Dannells said.

Similar to gift cards, customers can buy a bond now and use it later, but different in that bonds are used after it matures.

“It appreciates in value,” Dannells said. “So, the ones that we’ve issued are worth 33 percent more. So, $75 get you a $100 gift certificate, essentially at a set period of time.”

Dannells said he got the idea from a restaurant group in New York, and it stuck with him because of the meaning behind the bonds.

“Thinking about what war bonds meant to people, especially during World War II, and it was the idea that you invest in something you believe in and that it’s more than just loaning money,” Dannells said. “It’s literally investing in the success of the thing.”

The bonds will help the business sustain cash flow once they reopen, because of the staggered maturity dates. If customers buy a bond from series A, it would be matured on Sept. 1. If customers buy a bond from series B, it would be matured on Oct. 1.

“We assumed that if we did 100 bonds per month, that would be $10,000 in liability. That would be fine,” General Manager Colton Schara said. “Depending on when people come in to redeem them, $30,000 in liability becomes more difficult, so we wanted to extend that redemption date.”

The bonds are also about letting customers know they’re still here for each other, even though the pandemic is keeping them apart.

“This project was a little bit different, because we wanted folks to feel like they were making an investment,” Schara said. “It’s very different that a customer relationship or even a guest relationship. We wanted people to think of themselves as a patron of the restaurant.”

Cadre Restaurant bonds can be purchased online and a certificate will be sent in the mail.