Greensburg's The Supper Club marks the end of operations
On Jan. 14, diners will be seated for the last time at Greensburg's upscale restaurant, The Supper Club.
After more than six years of promoting, marketing and serving farm-to-table dining, the proprietors are pulling out of the PNC Train Station on Ehalt Street.
Executive chef Greg Andrews and his wife, Ashlee Andrews, along with her mother, Debra Driggers, operated the restaurant in the century-old building.
Their decision to not renew a lease with investment group StoneKim Properties LLC of New Stanton, which purchased the building in 2015, has them considering new ventures.
The three look to a future concentrating on their The Pickled Chef business and operation of their Summer Winds Farm in Unity. They have secured use of a kitchen in a local church. They are considering expanding their online sales, catering, cooking classes and starting a farmers' market.
Leaving The Supper Club, after a $500,000 investment in equipment and renovations — and the Westmoreland Cultural Trust's unexpected sale of the building — was never their plan, they say.
“We wanted to be in the cultural district. We wanted to be community partners with the Cultural Trust,” Ashlee Andrews says. “We put a lot, not just monetary, but heart and soul into a lot of items.”
Driggers says she paid $6,700 a month in rent, plus utilities, and that the building's age and cavernous size made it expensive to maintain.
The location, behind the city's main shopping district and away from competing restaurants, meant it was not always easy to attract staff or new customers, she says. Sales fluctuated, Driggers says, depending on the economy and the success of productions at the nearby Palace Theatre.
“Tuesday through Thursday was not what we wanted it to be. But weekends, we couldn't complain,” Driggers says.
Trust President Michael Langer says the Trust determined it had to eliminate the staggering cost of maintaining the train station to focus on the nonprofit's centerpiece, the Palace Theatre.
“The Palace is our (Trust) gem,” he says.
A potential purchase of the station at the cost of $800,000 was not financially feasible, Greg Andrews says.
A new appraisal, of $525,000 for the building and its liquor license, resulted in a cash sale to StoneKim. The buyers were made aware, Langer says, of an expected $400,000 in renovations the station will require in the near future.
The family had a prior history with StoneKim partner Kirk Kim, owner of the Olde Spitfire Grille in South Greensburg. Driggers, who had operated that restaurant, left to start The Supper Club after former train station tenant Red Star Brewery and Grille closed.
The family agreed to a one-year and one-month lease extension in December 2015 to get them through the busy 2016 holiday season, they say.
The family's announcement last fall that they would not renew their lease and planned to close in January was disappointing, says Kay T. Kim, owner and general manager of the station.
“But I told them that I completely understood. ... We wanted to work on a smooth exit strategy,” she says.
Kim says she wishes the family “the best of success” in their future ventures.
She says she was “pleased and surprised and shocked” by the level of interest when news broke that the property soon would be available.
“We had local, regional and national (prospective) tenants who contacted us,” Kim says.
Among those were restaurant operators, an event catering venue and several non-restaurant businesses, she says.
StoneKim has a letter of intent and is undergoing lease negotiations with a prospective tenant, and Kim says she anticipates a spring opening at the station.
“I think it will be great for downtown Greensburg,” she says.
Kim declined to release the name of the potential new site operator.
“We are still talking with other (prospective tenants). It's never over until the ink is dry,” she says.
The Andrews and Driggers plan to continue participating in local and Pittsburgh farmers' markets and festivals.
Begun in 2014 as a side business, The Pickled Chef pickling and preserving company, Greg Andrews says, “took off beyond our wildest expectations.”
Their 15-acre farm, which they moved to in May, gives them the opportunity to grow some speciality items, Driggers says. “We're trying to find our niche, and not compete (with other farmers). Everybody is trying to make a living.”
Earlier this month, they were conducting inventory, packing equipment and otherwise preparing to vacate the building.
But they may not have served their last supper.
“We definitely haven't ruled (opening another restaurant) out, if an opportunity presented itself and was a good fit,” Ashlee Andrews says.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.