The sweet taste of Graeters ice cream permanently returns to Grove City’s Town Center in spring after a more than year-long hiatus following a fire that devastated the restaurant in February 2007.
While the city was not without the French-Pot processed treat on Friday nights during the summer, when the company operated from a temporary cart, the store will be open for regular business "as soon as possible in May," said co-owner Maury Levine.
The building housing the ice cream parlor was originally constructed as a two-tenant structure and, in addition to Graeters, was once home to a realtor and then an architectural firm. Levine reported customers will see changes in the building layout, but the patio still plays a predominant role in the restaurant’s operation.
"We’re reducing the Graeters space slightly to 1,750 square feet and adding a 900 square foot space for another tenant, in addition to the 3,000 square foot tenant space we had before," said Levine. "We’ve had lots of calls of interest in the building and location for the two tenant spaces.
"The Grove City store was always bigger than other Graeters, so we’re making it comparable in size to the other stores. We’re doing a few new and different things during the remodel, but we’re old fashioned and don’t do anything radically different. The patio stays and with the great job the city does, we’ll have plenty of room for our customers."
A Feb. 19, 2007 electrical fire, which, Levine points out, coincidently happened on his daughter’s birthday, started in a piece of equipment in the ice cream shop. The inside of the store was damaged and had to be gutted out down to the support studs. However, the tenant area only suffered smoke and water damage.
"The Jackson Township Fire Department did a wonderful job of saving the structure and the tenant space," continued Levine.
He added, "It’s taken so long to reopen because the insurance process takes forever, so a significant part of the time we couldn’t do anything. Another objective was to get a tenant into the 3,000 foot space and see what they wanted to do before we started remodeling, but we couldn’t wait any longer and decided to go ahead with the project."
Although a firm opening date has not been set, Levine was hopeful it would be in early May.
"Graeters is an outstanding ice cream store and is a magnet for bringing people of all ages downtown," remarked Grove City Administrator Sharon Reichard, who said the city has fielded a lot of questions about Graeters since the fire. "The people at city hall are certainly happy they’re going to reopen and it’ll be nice to look out and see people gathering around outside the store again."