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New tenants have high hopes for Plum fire department annex

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 5:45 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
The site of the former Plum Daily Grind restaurant on Route 286 in Plum.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Plum Advance Leader
The site of the former Plum Daily Grind restaurant on Route 286 in Plum.

Bill Brash and his business partners looked at many locations when they thought about starting a pizza shop.

When Brash, 44, who lives in the Holiday Park section of Plum, found out the Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department annex building on Route 286 — former home to the Plum Daily Grind — was available for rent, he was interested.

“It's five minutes from my house, it has a drive through, a small dining area, and the building is on the road,” said Brash, general manager of FunFest Entertainment Center in Harmar.

“We saw the competitive edge, and it closed at the right time.”

FunFest offers bowling, laser tag and has an arcade. The facility also serves food including pizza, sandwiches, fries and appetizers.

Brash said he, his brother, Darren Brash, 41, a chiropractor from Richland, and Trent Crytzer of Kittanning , 43, assistant general manager of FunFest, are planning within the next month and a half to open Grandslam Pizza in the 2,350-square-foot building that is next to the fire house and had been home to the Plum Daily Grind, a coffee house that sold donuts, hoagies and pizza among other food items and was owned by Plum Councilman Keith Nowalk, 50, a developer.

Brash said he and Crytzer will manage the pizza shop that also will serve hoagies, appetizers and desserts. Darren Brash is the owner. Brash said painting and other cosmetic improvements are being made to the space. Plans call for large-screen televisions and sports memorabilia inside the shop, Bill Brash said.

“The fire department has been great to work with so far,” Bill Brash said.

Bill Brash said Grandslam Pizza has a three-year lease with a two-year renewal option. Bill Brash declined to disclose the monthly rent amount.

Hilary Taylor, the fire department's lawyer, could not be reached for comment.

The Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department in May sued Nowalk seeking $196,536 for what it contends is his failure to pay rent on the building.

The amount includes $179,180 in accelerated rent through December 2019.

The Plum Daily Grind was a tenant for about three years.

Nowalk, a borough councilman who decided this November to not seek re-election to a four-year term, at the end of April closed the Plum Daily Grind after he said he wasn't able to pay the rent — about $2,800 a month for the first four months of the year.

Nowalk said Monday he hopes the fire department will adjust the judgment against him given the lease with a new tenant.

Nowalk said he hopes the new business does well.

“I wish them the best of luck,” Nowalk said. “Hopefully, they will do great.”

Both Bill Brash and Crytzer have backgrounds in food service.

In addition to each working at FunFest for 14 years, Bill Brash worked at McDonald's in high school, and his father is a retired regional vice president of the fast food chain. Crytzer worked at Little Caesars Pizza for a decade.

The name — Grandslam Pizza — was gleaned from Bill Brash's background in baseball. A 1987 Penn Hills High School graduate, Bill Brash played college baseball first at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Fla., and for the University of Pittsburgh where he graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1991.

“Our goal in 10 years is to break into the top 50 (pizza) chains in the country,” Bill Brash said.

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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