M/cloudy
65°
M/cloudy
Hi 83° | Lo 62°

PETERBOROUGH

Harlow’s still under construction

Owner says kitchen expansion taking longer and is more costly than expected

  • Dave Szehi inspects the renovated downstairs space at Harlow's Pub in Peterborough on Friday. He's hoping to move kitchen equipment back in soon in order to reopen the kitchen, which has been closed since construction work started in January.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Dave Szehi inspects the renovated downstairs space at Harlow's Pub in Peterborough on Friday. He's hoping to move kitchen equipment back in soon in order to reopen the kitchen, which has been closed since construction work started in January.


    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Standing in the vacant but newly remodeled dining space on the ground floor of Harlow's Pub on Friday, Dave Szehi talks about his plans for the building. He's hoping to move kitchen equipment back in soon in order to reopen the kitchen, which has been closed since construction work started in January.

    Standing in the vacant but newly remodeled dining space on the ground floor of Harlow's Pub on Friday, Dave Szehi talks about his plans for the building. He's hoping to move kitchen equipment back in soon in order to reopen the kitchen, which has been closed since construction work started in January. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Dave Szehi, Harlows, Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

    Dave Szehi, Harlows, Peterborough

    (Staff photo by Dave Anderson) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Dave Szehi inspects the renovated downstairs space at Harlow's Pub in Peterborough on Friday. He's hoping to move kitchen equipment back in soon in order to reopen the kitchen, which has been closed since construction work started in January.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Standing in the vacant but newly remodeled dining space on the ground floor of Harlow's Pub on Friday, Dave Szehi talks about his plans for the building. He's hoping to move kitchen equipment back in soon in order to reopen the kitchen, which has been closed since construction work started in January.
  • Dave Szehi, Harlows, Peterborough<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)

PETERBOROUGH — Dave Szehi, the owner of Harlow’s Pub on the corner of Grove and School streets gets calls, emails and Facebook posts every day.

“They all want to know when the kitchen is going to open,” Szehi said on Friday, as he stood in the partially completed lower level of the building, where a new concrete floor has been poured, a wall moved out a few feet to accommodate a larger kitchen and drywall work is completed. But the space is still empty, waiting for kitchen equipment to be moved back in, and Szehi’s not sure just when that will happen.

“You always plan for things to take longer. That’s pretty routine when you’re dealing with an old building,” he said. “But now it’s getting hairy. We’re over our budget and beyond the time for reopening. I’m just trying to stay afloat.”

Szehi purchased Harlow’s Deli and Cafe from its founder, Harlow Richardson, in 1996, and expanded and remodeled it the following year. Since then it has become a popular gathering spot, with live music on weekends, a long bar and wooden tables upstairs, and outdoor seating in a patio along Main Street. The kitchen, which is in the lower level of the building, has always been small, Szehi said, although he had enlarged it a bit over the years. So in January, he shut it down to do what he hoped would be a quick remodeling.

“We basically just wanted to add space for a couple of extra burners,” Szehi said. “We found we had to do the floor, bring it down to dirt and rebuild from the bottom up. It opened up a half a dozen cans of worms.”

Szehi said a larger kitchen will allow him to add to the menu at the restaurant. In the meantime, he’s remained open for business upstairs at the bar and continued to bring in bands on weekends. He’s been able to offer soup and chili occasionally, but he’s encouraging customers to feel free to bring their own food to the bar.

“We’ve had people doing potlucks. People have brought in pizza,” he said. “The turnout has been good for the shows. It’s not enough to pay the bills, but it’s better than being completely closed.”

Szehi said he took out a bank loan to finance the construction project, but now that bills are accumulating he’s thinking about additional sources of funding.

Last year, the Uplift Music Festival, organized by some of the people who work at Harlow’s, generated $7,000 to help pay for the kitchen renovations. Szehi said another festival is in the planning stages for this summer, but the proceeds will probably be used for a different project. So he’s looking into the idea of using Kickstarter or Indiegogo — websites where people can make pledges to support a project — to try to raise additional money.

“I hate to be so needy,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do this without other investors, but it’s really difficult.”

Szehi said he could understand that some people might be reluctant to donate money to a project to improve a business, but he was impressed by the success of the Peterborough Community Theatre’s recent Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $50,000 for the purchase of digital equipment needed to bring the movie theater up-to-date. He said he’s had a lot of support in response to a recent Facebook post about the possibility of a fundraising effort.

As he ponders whether to try online fundraising, Szehi said he’s not able to make any promises about when the kitchen will reopen.

“It was supposed to be done a month ago,” Szehi said. “As soon as possible. That’s about all I can say.”

An exhaust fan that’s required probably won’t be ready until the beginning of May. He still has to paint and tile the downstairs, return the kitchen equipment and get the necessary inspections done.

“It’s been exhausting,” Szehi said. “It will be exciting to have a new kitchen but it’s not the easiest thing to pull off. We always magically seem to make it work though.”

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.