The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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November 11, 2013

Local restaurant not chicken about huge renovation

JOHNSTOWN — Not long from now, Dwayne Folta expects one of Johnstown’s most historic buildings, the William Horace Rose House, to be home to a restaurant, bed and breakfast, bowling alley, antique shop and reception hall.

But in its current state, it needs a lot of repair work.

Folta’s family, which owns Our Sons’ Restaurant, recently purchased the Romanesque structure, located at 229 Main St., from Knights of Columbus Council 467. The new business, called Our Sons’ Banquet & Catering, already has hosted receptions. But most of the building is still unusable because of water-damaged walls, deteriorating window frames, dirty floors and stacked boxes – lots of boxes – filled with items to sort through.

“I look past all that,” said Folta. “I see what it can be. I see through all the boxes and stuff and everything that sat around. I see beyond all that.”

Folta wants to eventually make the structure resemble its appearance from when Rose, Johnstown’s first mayor following the 1889 Flood, lived there.

“I’d like to get it to what it looked like, at least close, within reason,” Folta said.

He hopes to have the restaurant portion – with a limited breakfast and lunch menu, including Our Sons’ signature pressure-cooked chicken – operational by late spring.

The plan is to open at least a few bed and breakfast rooms in time for June’s Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally. Along with the reception hall and future B&B rooms, there are kitchens, bars, a bowling alley with six lanes and additional spaces. Folta hopes to eventually utilize all of the different areas.

“We’re going to try to do as much as we can with the building,” said Folta. “We’re going to try to keep it busy every day.”

The 15,748-square-foot structure sold for $80,000.

Council 467 needed to get rid of the building in order to pay mounting debts.

“It will pay all of the creditors that we owe, and we might walk away with a little bit of change,” said Council 467 Grand Knight Dave Vitovich.

Late last year, the Knights came so close to selling the building to Peer Empowerment Network for $125,000 that the deal was announced to the public. That transaction, however, fell through at the last minute. PEN had planned to use the structure as a recreational center for individuals with mental illnesses.

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.

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