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Waynesboro's 'pumpkin' building transformed

Businessmen seek 'midrange or up' restaurant

Businessmen seek 'midrange or up' restaurant

October 22, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Last Halloween, two Waynesboro businessmen purchased a building that resembled a giant pumpkin and since have carved out a restaurant space unlike others downtown.

The formerly orange John Wallace building on West Main Street now features two outdoor seating areas that could comfortably seat 90 restaurant-goers, according to one of the building's owners.

And the paint scheme has been muted with more natural hues.

"I think we get the award for 'most improved' because it was the worst-looking building," said Paul Gunder, who joined Bob Zimmerman, a Waynesboro dentist, in the efforts.

Workers tackled upstairs apartments from January to April. They replaced the wiring and gave each unit its own heat pump.

"They were very easy to rent," said Gunder, a real estate agent.

The focus then shifted to the building's exterior and first floor. Gunder and Zimmerman needed to ensure the renovation coordinated with the borough-funded installation of brick sidewalks on Main Street.

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"It's taken a little longer than we wanted," Gunder said.

Crews recently created a concrete patio on the southwest corner of the building. That area has a center section designated for a tree, since others were removed due to problems with the roots.

The inside dining area and kitchen (the former home of Nick Papoutsis's John Wallace Kitchen) remain largely untouched. Gunder said they want to work with the restaurant's new owner to develop that space.

Gunder, who remembers getting a "Texas hot dog" at the building in his teenage years, said he's talked to potential tenants, but some weren't a good fit and others had difficulty envisioning what the renovations would look like when complete. He said he's looking for a "midrange or up" restaurant.

Continued exterior renovations will extend stone around the west side of the building. The building owners are considering soliciting a mural for the top half of that wall.

On the east side, they want to create a doorway that can be used to access the adjacent movie theater, which they also own. Gunder talked about dinner theater and other special events that could be held as a partnership.

"We'd like to see the theater go through an upgrade in the future," he said.

Gunder said he and Zimmerman wanted to be among the people setting the tone for downtown revitalization. He commended several other building owners for their work.

"We wanted to get on board and do that. ... It becomes kind of a passion after awhile," Gunder said.

A grant from Main Street Waynesboro Inc. partially funded the exterior renovations at the John Wallace building.

Potential restaurant tenants may call Gunder at 717-765-2565.

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