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Plum councilman's business lease terminated by VFD

| Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A Plum councilman owes back rent after closing his failing coffee shop in space owned by the Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department.

Keith Nowalk rented space for his business, the Plum Daily Grind, in an Old Abers Creek Road building next to the fire station. The 10-year lease was signed in December 2009, said fire department attorney Hilary Taylor.

Nowalk said for the past few months, he has not been able to pay the $2,800-a-month rent.

“The Daily Grind could not sustain itself and will have to close due to unachievable sales volume,” he said. “No new location will be opened.”

He was scheduled to close the business earlier this week.

Lease violations resulted in a lease termination letter dated April 16, said fire department President Robin Schuster.

“We have been working with Mr. Nowalk in the past month or two” to try to resolve the lease violations, Taylor said.

“The efforts were to no avail,” Schuster said.

Nowalk referred questions about the exact amount he owes the fire department to his lawyer, James Nowalk, a cousin, who declined comment.

The fire department also declined comment on specifics about the lease violations.

The Plum Daily Grind fills the 3,200-square-foot building next to the fire department on Route 286. Nowalk said he spent about $250,000 to renovate the space that previously was home to an Amish furniture store.

Nowalk said the Penn Hills Daily Grind on Saltsburg Road, a satellite location, also is closing as a result of the end of the Plum business. The fire department will look for a new tenant for the building.

“They are not in negotiations while the Daily Grind is in there,” Taylor said. “The whole purpose of the building is to have someone in there to pay rent.”

Nowalk appreciates past business. “We would like to thank the Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department for the opportunity, and all of our customers for their patronage for the past three years,” Nowalk said.

The fire department also is in the midst of a construction project.

A two-story, 5,500-square-foot addition is under way. Features will include two additional bays for vehicles, offices, sleeping quarters, a training room, kitchen and storage room.

Robert Webb, a line officer with the fire company, said work on the addition is slightly behind schedule because of recent inclement weather.

Webb said the project is not expected to be completed for the department's 50th anniversary celebration in June.

The fire department, one of four in Plum, has about 40 active volunteers and answered 838 calls in 2012, an increase from 696 in 2011, according to its website.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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