The Alburtis Tavern and Lodge opened with little fanfare but big crowds over the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend.
Owned by Terry and Hope Bender, who also own the Buckeye Tavern in Macungie, the bar and restaurant replace the longstanding Iron Horse, which had closed and fallen into disrepair.
Terry Bender said he knew there was a strong demand to open the historic bar and restaurant, but he was surprised at the turnout for opening weekend, which he promoted mostly through word of mouth and Facebook.
"There was about an hour wait to get in, and the parking lot was full," he said.
The opening was a long time in coming. The Benders bought the property in June and began a large-scale reconstruction of the property, which included foundation to roof renovations, an addition doubling the size of the first floor restaurant and the addition of a deck for outdoor dining during warmer months.
In total, the restaurant now can seat up to 120 inside, with seating for 50 more on the deck.
The Benders aren't done with the construction. They intend to add a second floor to the outdoor deck, which will serve as a tiki bar-style area with seating for another 100.
The menu, while featuring traditional American cuisine, will feature items far different than what can be found on the Buckeye Tavern menu, Terry Bender said.
"Basically, if it's on the Buckeye menu, it won't be on this menu," he said.
Bender explained he wanted to offer a new experience, with different options, so his regular patrons can have more options.
That being said, the menu will have similar items, including steak, seafood and other dinners as well as a range of sandwiches and tavern fare.
The upper two floors of the restaurant serve as extended stay residences. He said the rooms are furnished and are geared toward business professionals or interns on long-term temporary assignment for work in the area.
The Alburtis Tavern is at 106 S. Main St., Alburtis.