Local Woman Hopes to Earn Funds to Open Restaurant in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Lydia Melton has dreamt of owning a business since she can remember. In graduate school, she developed a business plan, and when she studied abroad in Belgium, the idea for Günter Hans was born. "The food in Europe is so different, and I wanted to bring that back. It's good, it's fresh, and it's good for you. I think people will really like what we have to offer." Melton said.

Melton hopes to open Günter Hans in Columbia's downtown "District." However, with funds still lacking, she was forced to get creative with a Kickstarter account to raise online donations. Kickstarter is an online pledge system to help fund new projects. Melton began the campaign on April 1, and has until April 30 to get 20 thousand dollars in pledges. Melton has spent hours networking and reaching out via social media. As of Monday, Melton had 96 backers, but still lacked more than seven thousand dollars.

"I have faith. We've had complete strangers from Columbia give us support. It's really encouraging to see our community come together to support a new business," Melton said.

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick said Columbia is very receptive to new business endeavors. "What I've found is they're very open and accepting to new businesses which is great, it means it's a great place to do business. It's a friendly place to do business. People just want to help each other out," McCormick said.

Assuming funding goals are met, Melton hopes to have the restaurant open by the end of July.