By Mary Spicer
With shrubs pulled out and a trash container pulled in, demolition is under way on a building that will soon be a new catering and event center.
Recently purchased for $300,000 by Guys Mills residents Jason and Tammy Bakus, the former Haemer Tool & Die building on Route 198 in Saegertown is in the early phases of a transformation expected to be complete by the beginning of the new year.
The couple’s other food ventures include The Pampered Palate in Meadville and The Valley’s General Store in Blooming Valley.
With demolition on the interior of the 8,000-square-foot building well under way, Jason Bakus said Friday that he expects the construction phase of the project to begin within the next two weeks, pending receipts of the necessary paperwork.
With its interior cleared, the structure will consist of two separate conference rooms capable of holding up to 40 people and a main hall suitable for weddings, banquets and parties for what Bakus describes as “upwards of 325.”
By the time renovations are complete, Bakus estimates that the total cost of the project will probably be in the neighborhood of $550,000 to $600,000.
“We’ve been purchasing a lot of equipment over the course of time, so we don’t have to spend a lot on equipment now,” he said.
Describing the planned look of the facility as “traditional upscale,” Bakus said the decor is being planned so that events from simple to elegant will feel right at home. Longer-term plans call for an acre of the property to be transformed into an outside venue by next summer.
“This has been on our plate for a couple of years now,” he said.
With three locations in Meadville, Blooming Valley and Vernon Township already up and operating, the company employs approximately 16 to 18 employees.
“We’ll probably be adding an additional six when we’re up and running,” Bakus said.
In addition to providing space for events, the large kitchen being installed in the new facility will serve as headquarters for the company’s off-site catering, which is now divided between Meadville and Blooming Valley, and for their candy division, Sophia’s Fine Confections.
Residents of the area since 1991, the couple opened The Pampered Palate in June 2002. Jason is an executive chef with 27 years experience in the culinary field. Tammy, who is also a nurse, will focus on the sales and marketing aspects of the business.
“We’re excited to be bringing something fresh and new to the area,” Jason said. “We’ll work with all budgets from simple to as extravagant as you can get.”
Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.