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Can You Dig It

Back in business

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A recent construction project sparked the notion that traditions and dreams can be rebuilt, even when faced with multiple challenges.

After operating as a family-owned neighborhood restaurant for people in Allentown and throughout the region, a fire destroyed Youell’s Oyster House on Jan. 22, 2013.

But rather than give up on the possibility of reopening, restaurant owner Chris Filipos and his family decided to rebuild, retain the character of the old building and get back in business.

After meeting with architect Fred Bonsall of Bonsall Shafferman Architects and Space Planners and builder Ondra-Huyett Associates, the owner established a team approach with the two companies and developed a vision for the project, creating a budget to help achieve the goal.

“There was a lot of support from the neighbors,” said Bud Hackett, director of business development for Ondra-Huyett. “The city kind of embraced it.”

When construction began in September 2013, challenges came soon afterward with a relentlessly cold winter and poor soil conditions. But the end result was worth the hardships.

While natural disasters such as these are devastating, they also present opportunities for renewed growth.

The new Youell’s restaurant, at 2249 Walnut St., is a two-story, 6,100-square-foot bar and dining area that seats 100 in the main dining area, 45 in the mezzanine and an additional 20 at the bar.

Main features of the building include a wood and steel structure on a concrete foundation with a combination of fiber cement siding, split-face concrete masonry unit walls on the rear elevation and brick wainscoting on the front elevation. Interior features include wood floors in public areas, epoxy flooring in the kitchen, painted walls with decorative trim and painted ceilings with exposed ducts, pipes and conduits on the first floor.

Adding to the challenge was one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record, which made completing construction difficult.

The company could not close the envelope of the building and do interior work for a period of several weeks because of the harsh winter weather.

Terry Hodge, president of Ondra-Huyett Associates, oversaw construction.

“The most important challenge of the project was to design and build a new restaurant to meet the owner’s budget,” Hodge said. “The building was to be constructed at the same location of the former restaurant and had to meet the quality expectations of the owner – how the building would look and function – matching dreams to budgets is a challenge.”

But with coordination, cooperation and collaboration among the owner, design team and the construction team, the dream came to fruition.


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