The owners of the Steel Ice Center will soon open a pub at a former fitness center adjoining the rink on the city’s South Side.
The opening was the result of a hard fought battle between owners Tom Schantz and Jeff Trainer and Tom’s father, greenhouse entrepreneur, Dan Schantz.
“My dad was against it,” said the younger Schantz. But, with 250,000-350,000 patrons coming through the doors of the ice rink annually, the installation just made sense, he said.
After several years of convincing, his dad eventually felt the same way and gave his blessing to the project.
And Schantz couldn’t be happier.
“We’re real excited to be on the site where ArtsQuest brought Musikfest down to the South Side,” he said.
Dubbed the Steel Pub, the 5,000-square-foot construction adjoining the ice rink will offer seating for 230 patrons and a good view said Kevin Serfass, vice president with Serfass Construction in Allentown.
“The cool thing about this project is that you sit right next to the ice center and there’s a 40-foot glass wall where you can sit and drink a beer and watch the skaters while you’re eating,” Serfass said.
On Tuesday, Bethlehem City Council voted unanimously 6-0 to approve a liquor license transfer to the site that would allow alcoholic beverages to be served on the premises.
“Nobody came out or spoke out against it, the project generally seemed to be well-received and the area is kind of built for it,” said Council President Eric Evans.
Construction started on the project about two months ago and called for a near complete renovation of the former fitness facility that once resided there.
Forty to 50 workers have been employed to work on the $600,000 project throughout its construction paying special attention to ensure the pub fits with the landscape of the former steel site.
“It’s a nice fit and had a lot of support,” agreed Evans.
Serfass said its industrial theme harkens back to the days of the industrial giant’s glory. “There’s an industrial feel, we wanted to fit in with the SteelStacks and the blast furnaces,” Serfass said.
From the patio, patrons will have views of the blast furnaces, a hallmark of the former Bethlehem Steel. The restaurant also features a 16-foot overhead glass garage door and a patio that can be opened up on summery days.
“It’s kind of a new trend people are going towards. They want an open feel with a lot more windows (and) less brick and less heavy materials. Everything is going glass,” Serfass said.
The construction manager said he hopes to have the project completed in mid July. As of now, efforts merely consist of some finishing touches including painting, flooring and “minor touch-ups.”
“All the dirty work has been done,” said Serfass.
Pub owners plan on an August 3rd opening to coincide with the kick off of Musikfest which runs from August 3-12, Serfass said.