Thursday, September 30, 2010

Brownsville Celebrates Opening of Historic Thompson House Restaurant


Jeffrey Wilhelm
Robert Kovach


Historic Thompson House Restaurant, Shops Set Stage for October Openings

BROWNSVILLE, Pa. (Sept. 29) – Marking another milestone for an award-winning restoration project, entrepreneurs Jeffrey Wilhelm and Robert Kovach this weekend will reopen the Thompson House Restaurant and Tavern along with three retail shops in the historic 7,600-square-foot mansion in Brownsville Borough.

The grand opening of the Thompson House, located at 815 Water St., will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., featuring live music and complimentary dessert bar with coffee and tea. The Thompson House's re-launch is the first of three business openings planned in October for Brownsville Borough's re-emerging business district.

The four-story landmark, originally named Wayside Manor, was built in 1906 by Thomas H. Thompson as a single-family residence. In the early 1990s, Mary Jean Cicconi, a retired professor from California University of Pennsylvania, undertook the building's restoration and conversion into a restaurant and shop space. The project was accorded the 1994 Outstanding Achievement Award for historical preservation by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Wilhelm and Kovach, Brownsville residents for 13 years, acquired the mansion in January to become part of the borough's business revitalization and fulfill their longtime dreams to own a dining establishment. The former owner – a Brownsville native – closed the commercial property two years ago due to her health.

The Thompson House reopening will create an immediate 16 part-time jobs in the borough and more in the future as the business grows. The co-owners have hired an architect to transition two second-floor bedrooms into overnight suites for a boutique bed and breakfast. Future plans include a Civil War Ball to be held in conjunction with National Pike Days, dinner-theater weekends, live music and ongoing partnerships with local events.

The Thompson House's 54-seat restaurant was introduced with a soft opening two weeks ago. Saturday's grand opening debuts the Thompson Tavern, a lower-level casual-dining venue with seating for 30, and a banquet room for up to 35 guests. Also opening is River Bend, a fine collectibles and antique shop; Ye Ole Shoppe, a country store with general merchandise, including specialty candies; and a folk art shop. Two more shops will soon light the balance of the 2,400 square feet of retail space.

Wilhelm manages the kitchen and Kovach, the Tavern. The cuisine features recipes from Wilhelm's family and chefs he's assisted. Dining options include appetizers, salads, specialty sandwiches, desserts and full-course selections. Thompson House Restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thompson Tavern, daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and the retail shops, daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Saturday's grand opening will include a complimentary dessert bar with coffee and tea for media and customers.

Jeffrey Wilhelm and Robert Kovach are available for interviews before and during the grand opening of the landmark property, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Additional feature: The co-owners' home has historic ties to the Thompson House, a fact they discovered after the 104-year-old mansion was bought.

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