New life for old Hollow Tavern in Unity Township
The Hollow isn't sleepy anymore.
On Friday, the Steel Wheel Grill at the Hollow will reopen at the site of the defunct Hollow Tavern along Route 30.
Chris and Jessica Beam of Latrobe said they want to restore the former hub alongside Loyalhanna Creek, which was heavily damaged in a 2008 fire, to its former glory.
“It used to be known for good food, good entertainment and just like the saying, ‘Where good friends meet.' That's what we want to bring it back to,” said Chris Beam, 36.
“We want to make it rock like it used to,” said Jessica Beam, 31.
The outdoor patio area is slated for a soft opening at 11 a.m. Friday, when Beam will cook Southern-style smoked meats and grilled and barbecued dishes. In addition, Italian-American food will be served Wednesdays through Sundays.
The building's interior is under construction. Jessica Beam said they hope to open the first-floor bar and restaurant in September.
The building, constructed in the 1930s, has housed a campground, hotdog stand, gas station, bed and breakfast and, most recently, a restaurant and bar.
In February 2008, an arson fire devastated the landmark in Unity Township.
Fred Haeflein, a native of Unity who is a New York building contractor, purchased the property. “I just felt that it was important something as old and grand as this remain here,” said Haeflein, 54.
Haeflein, president of Kelly Atlantic Corp., salvaged what he could from the charred remains and rebuilt the place.
Chris Beam, originally of Natrona Heights, grew up working in the food industry. He met his wife at a restaurant. The couple, who have two sons, moved to Latrobe in 2007.
Chris Beam worked several years in the gas-drilling industry, while Jessica Beam forged a career at Latrobe Specialty Metals. Beam decided to open his own food business in 2012.
“We invested in a 14-by-7-foot trailer, totally renovated it and made it into a mobile kitchen,” he said.
The Beams opened The Steel Wheel Grill next to Latrobe Specialty Steel, but the operation outgrew the trailer.
They opened in the former Frank's Lounge in Latrobe in early 2013 but lost the space to a fire at the Ligonier Street Grub and Pub that April.
The Beams then leased another space on Ligonier Street, but the building sustained wind damage six months later, Chris Beam said. So they focused on opening at The Hollow, he said.
The Beams were familiar with the site. Jessica had dined at the restaurant, and Chris had helped his brother-in-law, owner of KSL Construction, repair the roof after the fire.
The couple started talks with Haeflein after losing their first building on Ligonier Street.
“We don't want a modernized restaurant,” Chris Beam said. “We want dated stuff, antiques, everything refurbished, and that was his exact idea, also.”
Haeflein said they have a 10-year lease with potential for a renewal and purchase. They are negotiating financial details.
The couple said they plan to open inn rooms upstairs and a banquet facility downstairs.
The decor will showcase the region's industrial history, like its railroads, the coke ovens of Wilpen, the lumberyard of Ligonier and the steel business of Latrobe,
“More or less, we've grown up in production, machining and gas-drilling,” Jessica Beam said. “All of those things have made us who we are. We want to incorporate that.”
They hope to reinstate the tradition of weekly entertainment that attracted people to the restaurant in its heyday. “(The Hollow) used to thrive on the side of the mountain,” Chris Beam said. “We see it doing that.”
Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Franklin Regional stabbing suspect Hribal to head to adult prison after Oct. 1
- Confederate memorabilia gets favorable attention at Westmoreland Fair
- PennDOT outlines Route 119 plan
- Megan’s List offender charged with assault on 10-year-old Latrobe girl
- Westmoreland Fair queen eyes veterinary career
- Scottdale man charged in robbery at car wash
- Ligonier men claim arrests violated rights
- Mt. Pleasant Area board votes to establish $3.5M line of credit
- Painter sues Westmoreland County commissioner over payment
- Derry Area teachers near contract
- Ex-Ligonier Valley Midget Football treasurer Brewer accused of stealing $12K