The last couple weeks have been a frenzy of construction. This is one of the most fun and exciting things I get to do at Iron Hill. I can’t tell you how many times we have heard “you are going to be open when?” as people have stopped by the site to see the progress.
Last week, my father stopped in and said the same thing and he has seen the construction of every restaurant since we have opened. The final week always takes people by surprise with how fast the final touches of the restaurant come together.
Every time we open a new restaurant, it has the same hectic pace because their always seems to be a deadline hanging over our head. Chestnut Hill has been no different as our goal was to open time to take advantage of accelerated depreciation for tax purposes. Still, it hasn’t been the most grueling of the nine times we’ve done this so far, that was when we opened our second restaurant, West Chester.
In 1998 we wanted to be open in time for the Chester County Restaurant Festival, which brings in tens of thousands of people into the town. We felt it was a perfect opportunity to market our new restaurant. We made it (we opened that day) but it was one of the most grueling schedules we ever experienced and actually closed for a couple days after to catch our breath and brew more beer because the reception was so welcoming, we almost ran out of beer! I have to admit, we have gotten much better since then.
My partner, Mark Edelson, handles all of the construction. He likes to say that opening your second restaurant is the toughest since it is the one time you double your size in a day. Mark does a great job of handling the contactors and he has been on site almost every day for the last couple months. This one has been particularly tough because the final push is happening during the holidays. Mark is definitely ready for a vacation and thankfully, he is getting to take one soon after the holidays.
I love seeing a new store come together and Chestnut Hill will be beautiful! There seems to be a buzz in Chestnut Hill around the opening, and I can’t wait to meet many of our newest regulars in the next few weeks then eventually hand off the restaurant to our handpicked team of managers and staff. You’re in for a great one in Chestnut Hill!
Our staff has been onsite for the last few weeks, getting everything (and everybody) ready for the opening. Paul Rutherford, the head brewer, and his assistant Derek Testerman have been brewing beer for weeks. General Manager Matt Radebach and Sr. GM Eric Maney have been working closely with the staff during training. And chef Mario Romero have been working with our cooks, cleaning the kitchen, preparing soups and prepping food.
It is an exciting time, opening a new restaurant, watching as the staff comes together. It is also a stressful and demanding time. I like to surprise the staff by helping to bus their tables or do my part at the host stand and walk guests to their tables. I just love being a part of the opening and helping out on the front lines.
The Chestnut Hill restaurant is scheduled to open on Thursday January 4th at 4 pm. We hope to have Mayor Nutter stop by to pour the first beer. Regardless, if you stop in to Iron Hill, look for me (the guy with the gray hair trying to keep up with the young kids on the service floor) and say hi!