Historic Pa. building is a restaurant again

May 21, 2006


MERCERSBURG, Pa. - A historic building on Mercersburg's center square has had many incarnations over the years but has returned to being a restaurant through the efforts of a Greencastle, Pa., man.

John Flannery worked in manufacturing for 17 years but "just always dreamed of having a nice restaurant/lounge."

He drove past the circa-1800 stone building many times from his Greencastle home to practices for the baseball team he coached in Mercersburg.

He thought about the dream, being his own boss and how he would never own that manufacturing company no matter how long he worked there.


And, in his own words, Flannery "jumped off the cliff" and found himself with a two-story building begging for a bit of tender loving care.

"You kind of look at something for what it can be," Flannery said.

What 5 N. Main St. had been was a general store, a mortuary and three or four other restaurants. Apartments remain on the second floor.

Flannery settled on the property Sept. 23, 2005, and opened Flannery's Tavern on the Square fewer than three months later. In that time, he worked from 6 a.m. to midnight and took on nearly all of the renovations himself.

"I completely gutted it out and started from scratch," he said.

The last restaurant owners maintained the main floor at three different sublevels with stairs, and cigarette smoke had damaged a lot of the interior wood.

Flannery tore out the small bar, several walls and a coat room. Friends helped him with duct work and electricity.

Then he installed a refrigerated room in the basement to keep kegs from cluttering the bar area.

Improvements to the exterior of the building were done in conjunction with the area historical district's standards, Flannery said.

The building needed more work than what could be seen on the surface, he said.

Flannery's dream became reality at a Dec. 9 opening followed by busy weekends and holidays. The restaurant also has hosted a wedding reception, he said.

Head chef Berkley Cline developed the menu, which includes a "Mercersburger." The menu also features hot wings, seafood and a grilled reuben sandwich.

"I wanted to compete with those fine dining spots in Frederick, Hagerstown, Chambersburg, but do it at a bit better price," Flannery said.

All of the activity keeps Flannery in the restaurant 90 to 95 hours a week, but he would like to do even more with the restaurant, such as add live music.

Flannery smiled when he commented on the number of people who told him that he was crazy for taking on the endeavor.

"There's always a way," he said.

Cutline: Photo by Jennifer Fitch

John Flannery has opened Flannery's Tavern on the Square in an historic building at 5 N. Main St. in Mercersburg, Pa.

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