The name may be staying the same, but that’s about it for a popular watering hole being brought back to life in Allentown’s West End.
Stooges Bar & Grill, which abruptly closed four years ago at 2101 W. Liberty St., is expected to reopen with a new look, menu and owner within the next couple of months.
“We’re going to hustle for St. Patrick’s Day, but I don’t think that’s a reality,” owner Joe Clark Jr. said. “The opening will probably be in April.”
Clark, a principal of Standard Real Estate LLC, last spring purchased the property that includes the restaurant, its liquor license and some furnishings.
For the past six months, he and a team of contractors have been renovating the structure, which also houses three upstairs apartments.
Upgrades include new flooring, lighting, kitchen equipment and facade improvements such as new paint, windows and a garage door that will open to the building’s front sidewalk seasonally.
Walls that previously separated two rooms in the restaurant have been knocked down, allowing for an open-concept bar and dining area.
“We gutted it down to the studs and completely opened it up,” Clark said. “So, pretty much everything is new, including the drywall, wiring, plumbing and so on. We also reconfigured the original bar and added a new bar to the left side, so there will be two bars now.”
The full bars will each serve 16 rotating draft beers, including big name domestics and craft selections, Clark said. Happy hour specials will be featured, but the exact times have not yet been determined.
The reimagined Stooges, offering seating for around 100 customers, also will serve a limited pub-style food menu that includes burgers, cheesesteaks, sandwiches and various appetizers.
“It’s not going to be fine dining,” Clark said. “We want to keep it pretty simple, but also good and reasonably priced.”
Stooges has been vacant since April 2016, when the bar and restaurant abruptly closed. The eatery, formerly Kern’s, a family owned restaurant for generations, changed ownership and became Stooges around 2003.
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In 2011, Stooges owner Bill Dreisbach and SNB Real Estate borrowed $871,000 from NOVA Bank, but stopped making payments in July 2012, according to court records. CRE/ADC Venture, “successor-in-interest” to NOVA, sued in 2015 for $1.3 million in unpaid principal, interest and fees.
Neither the restaurant nor the apartments are permitted uses within the area, which is zoned for medium-density residential use, but the Allentown Zoning Hearing Board last March voted unanimously to continue a non-conforming use on the property, meaning it can remain a bar and restaurant.
Hours for the new Stooges are still being finalized, but Clark expects the business will stay open until 2 a.m. “on the weekends at least."
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