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Couple converting Hoover House into restaurant

September 25, 2005|By BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, PA.

In its 93-year history, the huge brick Hoover House has been a private residence, a restaurant and an assisted-living facility.

Now, it's poised to become a restaurant again.

John and Barb Persun, who live on the second and third floors of the stately home, will open the first floor of the 1912 Hoover House on Wednesday.

Opening a restaurant has been Barb Persun's dream for 12 or 15 years, she said.

"Whenever we'd go out to a restaurant, I'd be saying, 'Note that, note that, note that,'" she said. "I've traveled a lot, to big cities and small towns. There are great places to eat everywhere you go. It's just finding them."

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Finding the right property to house her dream took time, but the Hoover House was worth the wait. She and John found the place in December 2003 and settled on it in March 2004, she said.

It had been vacant for several months. Construction to transform the entire first floor of the 227 W. Main St. building into a restaurant began in February.

"We got rid of the shag carpeting and many, many layers of wallpaper," she said.

The wide, wraparound porch, complete with flower boxes, is freshly painted. A well-equipped commercial kitchen is ready and waiting.

John Persun, a partner in the Boyer and Ritter CPA firm in Chambersburg, Pa., helps out behind the scenes, Barb said.

Barb Persun has been doing research on the inside of the house to be sure the historic dining experience she hopes to create is authentic. Because it was a private home until the early 1980s, there is not much photographic evidence, she said.

The three dining rooms will be decorated in the style of the 1920s and 1930s.

"That was the heyday of manufacturing in Waynesboro," she said.

From the paint colors to the background music, everything will reflect the jazz period. Fringed jabot-and-swag curtains set off the high-ceiling rooms. Diners will be seated in black, handmade fan-back and bow-back chairs. The hand-planed table tops will not be obscured by tablecloths.

The art on the walls is by local artists from the Waynesboro Studio Art Club and will be for sale, except for a pen-and-ink drawing of the Hoover House that is to hang in the foyer.

The restaurant will have seating for 56, including a 12-seat, full-service bar.

MaryBeth Hockenberry, director of the Greater Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce, said she is hearing positive feedback about the opening of the 1912 Hoover House.

"The community in general is very excited," Hockenberry said. "People have fond memories of when the Eigenbrodes had a restaurant there."

Hockenberry visited the house recently when Barb Persun was unloading some furniture.

"You want to be inside," Hockenberry said. "It's warm and inviting and it will serve our community very well."

Barb Persun said that she looks forward to doing her part in revitalizing downtown Waynesboro.

"We're on the way back," Hockenberry said. "There's no government agency, no one with big money to fix a downtown. It's business owners putting things downtown that are unique and well done, and that people want. That's what we're seeing."

Specialties will include seafood pasta, blackened salmon and steaks, head cook Jeremy Garraway said as he uncrated and washed new dishes. Several line cooks will be hired to assist him, Persun said.

While the restaurant will be upscale, patrons may come in wearing shorts, a business suit or a tuxedo and feel comfortable, she said. Reservations will be accepted, but not required.

The price range is $10 to $20 for dinner and $6 to $10 for lunch.

While Persun has never run a restaurant before, she has "done the pieces of it. I have a lot of experience as a line cook, a bartender and waitress."

She also has worked as a treasurer for a large organization, she said.

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