BOYERTOWN PA – Bringing a gourmet restaurant to downtown Boyertown – a business that could meet rising consumer demand, and also serve as an anchor to attract other entrepreneurs – has been a three-year-long, unexpectedly difficult task, representatives of the borough-promoting Building A Better Boyertown (BBB) organization admit. Their perseverance is paying off, though, they said Friday (March 8, 2019).
“Grind,” described as an “upscale and yet approachable dining experience” that will feature Northern Italian-style meals and hand-crafted cocktails, is taking shape in the former Schaeffer’s Restaurant building, 45 S. Reading Ave. It’s expected to open within a few months, possibly by June or July, the agency cheered in its weekly e-mailed newsletter.
Grind’s owner, Union Township resident Keith Kopicki and his company, Keiko Properties LLC, are making use of a $300,000 grant won by BBB in December 2017 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. The agency leveraged the money as a loan to help Kopicki acquire the building under its Anchor Building Rehabilitation Project.
The anticipated ending to this story is a happy one, but those in the know at Building A Better Boyertown agree getting this far has at times been agonizing.
BBB had done its homework during a three-year period. Its listening sessions with community members, it said, demonstrated “an extraordinary market demand for new restaurants.” And its research indicated that the “biggest retail opportunities for downtown Boyertown” were, surprise!, restaurants.
Armed with facts, statistics, and hope, it applied for and got state funding to transform the former Schaeffer’s, which later became My Girl’s Family Restaurant, from a vacant shell into a full-service restaurant that might revitalize downtown.
“This venture did not go exactly as planned,” BBB acknowledged.
“The original buyer and partner on the grant decided the investment was not worth the rehabilitation work needed on the building,” it said. “Then three other offers on the building failed to come to fruition.” At one point a title company deemed the property “unsellable.” Worse yet: the biggest challenge faced by BBB in finding a partner to purchase the building “was the amount of back taxes owed” on it.
There was plenty of behind-the-scenes scrambling and volunteer efforts to bring things together. The building property manager gave her time to continue showing the space to prospects. A local contractor donated his services to estimate the cost of needed roof repairs. A local real estate marketer identified Kopicki and his restaurant interest as “an exciting opportunity.”
A persistent group of state and local taxing authority representatives, borough partners, and volunteers all collaborated on the unpaid taxes problem. Relief was eventually sought and granted. By August 2018, Kopicki and his firm had accepted the loan terms and closed on the building’s sale. Rehabilitation of the property got under way.
BBB characterizes its success in the project to date as the prevailing “magic of downtown revitalization.” Given the number of people it is thanking for their roles in the effort, however, it’s evident the magic is the result of hard work by many hands.
Grind’s “newly renovated rustic space” will, according to BBB, be the setting for patrons dining on “a wide variety of signature gourmet meatballs” and other fare including specialty meats, seafood, and farm fresh vegetables. Gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options will be available. Its bar is stocked with a selection of bourbons, and locally sourced wine and craft beers.
The restaurant plans to open daily at 11 a.m., and also will provide catering services and space for private events.
Its work is nowhere near finished, BBB cautioned. As the borough’s non-profit Main Street revitalization group, it’s quick to point out that several other available Boyertown properties also pose promise for the right kind of enterprises. For information about them, it said, call 610-369-3054.
Photos from Google Images and Building A Better Boyertown