The darkened windows of U Pick 6 Tap House, at 333 State St., look at first glance like cause for concern in a time of lingering COVID-related shutdowns.
A hand-written message board outside the popular pub announces that it is closed for remodeling and will reopen in May.
Although that planned date for reopening has come and gone, co-owner Russell Stachewicz offered strong assurances that the Tap House will be coming back and soon.
The business was closed in April for the installation of a new brick oven, exterior facade work and other improvements, said Stachewicz, who also owns John Russell Brewing Co. and U Pick 6 Harbor House and U Pick 6 Public House in partnership with John Melody.
The business partners also are working to complete Pier 6 Rooftop Bar & Restaurant at 6 Sassafras Pier. The restaurant is located just south of the Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront Motel on the third floor of a building that will eventually house Bay House Oyster Bar & Restaurant.
Pier 6 is likely to open later this month, Stachewicz said, adding that hiring is underway.
Despite the delay, he stressed that Tap House, which opened for business in 2011, will reopen soon, most likely in July.
“It (the closure) is very temporary,” he said. “You will see a big brick oven going in on Monday. There was a delay in getting it. That is what pushed us back.”
Stachewicz said he’s excited about the improvements being made, especially the new oven.
“It costs us more money, but from where I sit there is nothing better than those brick ovens,” which are esthetically pleasing and safer to operate, he said.
‘There was no nightlife. This was our opportunity to upgrade.’
There was more than one reason to close the doors for a temporary shutdown.
One factor, he said, was keeping pace with the millions of dollars worth of improvements being made in the neighborhood as the Erie Downtown Development Corp. works on a series of renovations and new construction projects.
“They are upping the game,” he said.
It also made sense to close the doors temporarily in April at a time when downtown activity remained at a low ebb with the continued shutdown of the Warner Theatre and Erie Insurance office.
“It was a good time to do it,” he said. “There was no nightlife. This was our opportunity to upgrade.”
The oven and the facade will be accompanied by other improvements that will brighten and improve the interior of the building and make cleaning easier, he said.
One of the biggest challenges has been finding employees as they prepare to open Pier 6 and re-launch Tap House, but Stachewicz said he’s confident he and Melody will find the people they need.
“We are prepared to over-hire if that’s what we need to do,” he said.