Following a three-week shutdown, the restaurant in the basement of Boscov’s Department Store on South Main Street in downtown Wilkes-Barre has closed permanently.
Jim Boscov, CEO of the Reading-based department store chain, said the restaurant closed as part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s recent mandate and store officials decided not to reopen it.
Five other remaining restaurants at other Boscov’s stores also will shut down. They include a restaurant in Hazleton that is also already closed and a restaurant in Pottsville that will shut down at the end of the month.Boscov said the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown orders forced the department store chain to make the difficult decision to close the restaurants.
“It’s unfortunate,” he said. “I’m sure everybody knows that COVID has been devastating to businesses and no businesses have been hit harder than restaurants and that certainly was true for us as well.”A restaurant has been an important part of the downtown store since the late Al Boscov purchased the former Fowler, Dick & Walker, the Boston Store in 1980. Before that, a restaurant was part of Fowler, Dick & Walker.
For Jim Boscov, the decision to close the restaurant was particularly difficult because one of his first responsibilities at the store was running the restaurants.
“I developed a real affection for the business and an appreciation for how difficult a business it is as well,” he said. “There is a long history and I know this will be a disappointment to many customers.”
Boscov said store officials are busy working on renovation plans where restaurants are closing and it will vary by store but they have not yet decided on specific plans for the Wilkes-Barre space. Plans are in place, however, to put in new bathrooms in the lower level of the store, he said.
“We know that curbside pickup has been an important part of the business and a good service for customers so we need to enhance that and devote some space to it,” he said. “Whatever we do, it will give space to areas that need extra space to try to make shopping a little more convenient,” he said.
He could not say how many employees will be impacted by the restaurant closures but he said positions could be available in other areas.
“Certainly, we are going to be investing in renovating the space to provide new conveniences but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we’re losing something that many people have very fond memories of,” Boscov said.
Denise Allabaugh is a business writer for The Citizens’ Voice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 570-821-2115 or @CVAllabaugh on Twitter.