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Fox Chapel Yacht Club to scuttle restaurant, conference operations

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2004

O'HARA -- Fox Chapel Yacht Club and Conference Center will close its doors Dec. 1, leaving more than 100 events scheduled from December through next year without a venue.

Parties scheduled through Nov. 30 will go on, according to banquet manager Epi Torres.

Afterward, he said the scenic spot along the Allegheny River will capitalize on its location and expand the marina business operated from the site off Old Freeport Road. It was not clear how many jobs will be cut, if any.

"They're going to make it into a larger marina complex and move away from the restaurant and conference facilities," Torres said.

He declined to name the owner. So, too, did a woman stationed in the lobby of the yacht club Tuesday afternoon. She told a reporter that she is the manager of the site, but declined to give her name or divulge other information regarding the closing.

A phone number for the club is disconnected.

Township Manager Doug Arndt said he was not notified that the popular spot was planning to close. Residents have called the township offices during the past week with complaints that the number is disconnected, he said.

"We had no idea of what is happening and still don't," Arndt said.

Arndt said the township tax bill is sent to Frie-Max Management in Saltsburg. There was no listing in directory assistance for that group.

According to Torres, people who scheduled events at the upscale banquet hall have been notified of the closing. He said everyone will receive a deposit refund. There were no weddings scheduled in December at the hall, but there were a handful of other events where organizers will be left scrambling to find alternate accommodations. Some of the traditional events held at the club include the Cat Fancier's Convention and the annual antique show.

The riverfront site includes the conference center, Don Mario restaurant, Eva Szabo spa, a boathouse, marina and pool. According to Torres, the spa and the pool will remain.

Szabo did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

One group whose party apparently will make the cut is the Allegheny Valley Chamber of Commerce -- despite a few last-minute glitches. Its holiday party is scheduled for Friday, said President Mary Bowlin. Leaders were told last week by Torres of the closing.

On Monday, she tried to fax a table layout and found the fax machine disconnected along with the phone. "We were a tad bit nervous," Bowlin said. "We heard from (Torres) on Tuesday and he said the party plans were on. We have 280 people coming. We'll see on Friday."

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