While C’est Si Bon, the new French-themed coffee shop and eatery in downtown Sharon, is still facing some obstacles, what the government may consider a mistake by Mayor Bob Lucas ensured that they’ll be open for business while the paperwork is sorted out.

C’est Si Bon officially opened for business Thursday but still lacks a use and occupancy permit under the Uniform Construction Code because of some minor infractions that still need to be fixed.

So how did they open? According to owner Danielle Hayduk, Lucas called and told them to.

Ms. Hayduk’s eatery is aptly themed because she grew up in France. That’s what inspired her to open the boutique coffee shop. But it’s less romance and more tragedy that brought her to the Shenango Valley.

Ms. Hayduk came back to America in 1982 and lived in Long Island, N.Y. She operated a marketing firm there that catered to small and medium-sized businesses.

“After 9/11, things got really tough,” she said.

According to Ms. Hayduk, the terrorist attacks in the Big Apple forced businesses to tighten their budgets.

“The first thing to go is advertising,” she said.

She then decided to invest in real estate in western Pennsylvania. After some prodding from friends and family, she checked out Sharon. She soon bought a house in the city and began renovating the building at her current location, across from McDonald’s on West State Street.

She started to renovate in June, but because of a series of problems, found her business teetering on the brink of not opening for months.

“I would call it roadblocks, stonewalling,” she said of the problems that kept the business closed.

The city had given her an occupancy permit in March, she said, but the Middle Department Inspection Agency stepped in and told them they still had some code violations that needed to be fixed. The city is contracted to MDIA through Mercer County Regional Council of Governments to inspect for the Uniform Construction Code.

Lucas said both violations were minor, and in some cases lacked common sense from the view of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.

“The No. 1 culprit here is the UCC itself,” Lucas said of the construction code that passed statewide in April 2004. “It’s almost a Catch-22 for a place like Sharon. We have historic buildings here that we can’t tear down. But it would be cheaper to start all over than to renovate them.”

Lucas said the minor violations included some electrical work, the height of the checkout counter and places of the floor that were slightly uneven.

Ms. Hayduk said the original renovation plans for the coffee shop were drawn by her architect and approved through the Department of Labor and Industry. Then, MDIA, a lower level office, stepped in to tell her they didn’t work.

She decided that even though she was forced to correct those issues she would still serve food — just not inside the building. So she set up tables and chairs outside on Wednesday and Thursday. Then, on Thursday, Lucas called to tell her to open up the business.

Labor and Industry didn’t like Lucas’ actions and sent him a letter to reprimand him for overstepping his power.

“They sent me a formal warning,” he said. “I guess I did act outside of my authority.”

However, they acknowledged in the letter that it’s a one-time mistake and that Lucas doesn’t have to shut down the coffee shop.

That’s good news for Ms. Hayduk, who said business has been good in her first week, but that word still hadn’t really spread around the valley yet. She hopes it does because she plans to be here for years to come.

“My goal is to open a whole chain of C’est Si Bons,” she said.

That might just make the French say “Bon appetit!”

C’est Si Bon is located at 64 W. State St., Sharon. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. They do not have a liquor license but offer a “bring your own wine” policy for dinner. Call 724-346-4440.

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