Two downtown businesses on Prince George Street are under new management.
Williamsburg residents Michelle and Steve Sieling agreed to purchase The Hound’s Tale and Aromas Coffeehouse Bakeshop & Café on Monday. Michelle Sieling said the deal would be finalized by early October.
Current owners Don and Geri Pratt, who founded Aromas in 2000 and The Hound’s Tale in 2015, gathered the staff of the businesses Monday to inform them of their intent to sell.
“I tried to read my notes from typed pages, and quite frankly it was tough to get through,” said Don Pratt, 71. “I saw some tears in the eyes of others, and I wanted it to be a happy time — and it is.”
Under the new ownership, Michelle Sieling said both restaurants will continue to operate as usual.
“We’re going to explore opportunities to grow and expand into new locations,” she said. “It’s a wonderful business with an awesome team. That’s why we’re so excited. If it’s not broken, there’s no need to change it.”
Continuing to grow
The Sielings moved to Williamsburg from Chicago after the bitterly cold winter of 2015.
“For two years, Steve and I have been talking about how we want to open a restaurant around here,” Michelle Sieling said.
Enter the Pratts.
Michelle Sieling said she began working as a bookkeeper for the Pratts last fall. When the Pratts asked her if she would like to get more involved and work in The Hound’s Tale, Sieling said she would only be interested in working for a restaurant she owned.
That’s when Geri Pratt asked if Michelle Sieling would like to buy their restaurants.
“These are awesome restaurants with awesome teams,” Michelle Sieling said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to grow the businesses.”
Don Pratt said finding someone he could trust to run his businesses succesfully was important to him. He believed the Sielings have the energy and hearts to operate the restaurants successfully.
Keeping in touch
The Pratts will continue to work for the restaurant in a consulting role for the next year and a half, Michelle Sieling said, adding she was happy to retain them for their experience and guidance.
“It is something I’m grateful for because they’re allowing us to stay on,” Don Pratt said. “I’m not ready to retire, but I am ready to cut back a bit and see my grandkids… Now that we have a new owner picking up the responsibilities, maybe we’ll go home at 6:30 instead of 8:30.”
He said he has employed around 1,200 people between his businesses over the past 18 years, and the people he’s worked alongside will be the most enduring memory.
“There’s nothing I regret doing or regret not doing,” Don Pratt said. “When I look back on it, Geri and I put our blood, sweat, and tears into this business. You get out what you put in, but we feel we probably get more out of it than we put into it.”