New owners look to revamp Chestnut Logs

March 05, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

ROUZERVILLE, Pa. - The new owners of the Chestnut Logs Restaurant hope to bring back old times if their plans for the eatery come to pass.

The restaurant, which has been in the distinctive log cabin structure at 11657 Buchanan Trail East since the early 1940s, was sold by Frances Bricker to George Harrison and Erik Eiker in July.

Bricker, who owned the restaurant for more than 20 years, is the aunt of Harrison's wife. Harrison, 55, and Eiker, 33, are the restaurant's fourth owners.


Harrison owned a restaurant for three years in the early 1980s in Florida. Most recently, he sold cars for a Chambersburg, Pa., dealership.

Eiker, Harrison's nephew, was the chef and the manager at the Chestnut Logs for about five years before he took a job at an electronics maintenance firm.

The partners passed a major hurdle this week when the Washington Township Supervisors gave their blessings to their application for a liquor license.

"As long as their plans meet our zoning requirements we had no problem with a liquor license," Jerry Zeigler, the township's zoning enforcement officer, said Tuesday. "We wish them well."

Approval by township supervisors was the last step in getting the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to approve the license, Harrison said.

Patrons will see few changes in the rear of the restaurant, the site of the main dining room. The partners have repainted it and installed new lighting. The side entrance still will be used.

It's up front where the big changes will be made.

Harrison hopes to bring back an earlier time to the area by renovating the front into what he calls a working lounge where people can meet and have dinner and a few drinks.

Harrison remembers the days when he used to frequent lounges in Chambersburg called The Inn and The Old Mill - popular places where people came to meet and socialize over drinks.

At one time, the Chestnut Logs was a place like that, Harrison said.

"It used to be called The Varsity. People use to hang out. It closed in the 1960s. We're going to turn this back into the same kind of place it was and we're going to call it The Varsity Room," he said.

The buffet will be moved to the rear main dining room and the counter will be taken out and replaced by a large L-shaped bar, Harrison said. The dropped ceiling will be removed and the original cathedral ceiling with its exposed chestnut beams will be brought back, he said.

The carpeting will be taken up and a hardwood floor put down. Seating will be at high tables and stools, he said. There will be no live music, he said.

His target customers will be baby boomers.

"Most people my age will appreciate what I'm trying to do here," Harrison said.

Eiker said about 33 people work in the restaurant, including 12 who work full time. When construction ends and the renovated front of the restaurant reopens in June, employment will jump by 15, he said.

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