New restaurant proposed for Tamaqua
The former Wenzel’s Bakery at 125 E. Broad St. in Tamaqua will soon become the community’s newest eatery, thanks to the planned expansion of the Wheel Restaurant, located in Pottsville. A zoning board hearing on the application for the new business will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at Tamaqua Borough Hall, 320 E. Broad St. KATHY KUNKEL/TIMES NEWS
A new restaurant is coming to Tamaqua with several connections to the past.
The former Wenzel’s Bakery at 125 E. Broad St. is slated to become Tamaqua’s premier spot for a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich as Savas Logothides prepares to expand his popular Wheel Restaurant, currently located in downtown Pottsville.
Logothides is a third-generation restaurateur, whose grandfather established the former Famous Bar and Grill in Pottsville in 1968. His father took over the business in 1992. In 2016, Logothides turned the bar and grill into Wheel, specializing in mouthwatering grilled cheese sandwiches featuring several different choices of bread types and a huge variety of add-ins and toppings. It didn’t take long for his dream of expansion to become possible.
“My initial goal was to create a good working concept offering a good product and business structure with expansion several years down the road,” he said. “The reception we received in Pottsville was phenomenal and allowed us to start thinking of expansion more quickly than I initially thought. We’ve actually been looking at different areas for about a year.” Those places included Pittston, York, Reading and East Stroudsburg.
Logothides said he was prepared to set up his new shop in a business incubator spot in York until he was approached by some of Tamaqua’s community leaders.
“Despite my family’s connections to Tamaqua, I really hadn’t been keeping up with the progress made in revitalizing the town. But, after coming to town and seeing the progress and opportunities for myself, along with the availability of CRIZ funding, It was a no-brainer. I was immediately sold on Tamaqua.”
CRIZ stands for Community Revitalization and Improvement Zone. Tamaqua is one of three pilot zones in Pennsylvania focusing on returning a portion of local and state tax dollars to the communities where they were generated in an effort to promote economic growth.
Logothides has two CRIZ contracts, one for the acquisition of the property, which he will purchase outright, and the other for repairs/renovations which will be financed. He has received local approval to take part in the program and is still awaiting a determination from state authorities.
“So, there are a few more hoops to jump through, including requesting a variance from the borough’s ordinance regulating parking spaces for businesses,” said the restaurant owner.
Family ties to the Tamaqua area also played a part in his decision. “My mother’s brother was George Taylor, owner of the former Taylor’s Diner and the Beacon Restaurant in Hometown.” He admits his first thought was to purchase the former Taylor’s Diner property, “but I was two weeks too late.” The former Wenzel property is also filled with tradition, which is also a plus.
The next step in the process is a hearing before the Tamaqua Zoning Board on Monday. If the exemption is approved, the purchase of the building will be finalized and construction bids will be sought. Construction itself is expected to take 90 to 120 days after the bids are awarded, with a possible opening in late July or early August.
Once open, the business is expected to employ a mix of 30-35 full and part-time employees. Employment applications are expected to begin being accepted some time in June.
The new Wheel location will not stray from the successful model seen in Pottsville. Plans are to be open until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and until 3 p.m. on Sunday. In addition to the sandwiches and sides, beer, cocktails and wine will be available with your meal. In Pottsville, about 88 percent of Wheel’s sales are food with only 12 percent being alcohol purchases.
Logothides, who also serves as executive director of the Pottsville Area Development Corp., has a keen interest in community revitalization. “I’m excited to see all the good things happening in Tamaqua. I’m already getting a huge amount of support thanks to all the Tamaqua residents who have come to Pottsville to check us out. I already feel as though I’m part of the community.”