BY JACK SMILES
The bangs of hammers and the buzz of saws at the former Cooper’s restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard sound sweet to Kevin Kearney and Jamie Granko.
Construction resumed at the site Monday after a three-week lockdown. Workers for Hadley Construction are revamping the building for Kearney and Granko to lease and open a multi-purpose catering and event facility they call “The Banks — a Waterfront Venue.”
Paul and Jack Cooper, owners of Cooper’s Seafood House in Scranton, opened the Pittston restaurant in 1991. They closed the public bar and restaurant in 2016, intending to turn it into a banquet/event facility. They sold it to Pat Hadley and Tino Ferretti in 2018.
As it happened, Kearney and Granko were looking to team up and open an event/banquet business.
Kearney owns funeral homes in Old Forge and Scranton and he and his wife Natalie own Petals, a floral boutique on Main Street in Pittston.
Granko was a co-owner of the 570 Photo Booth. Granko and his wife Kimberly are wedding coordinators and decor specialists for Petals.
“Jamie knows event planning, DJs, lighting, photo booth,” Kearney said. “Those things colliding had us looking for a site for a business.”
Cooper’s was a perfect fit.
Kearney said he and Granko officially formed the business last May and were amazed bookings took off through word-of-mouth.
“We had six in the first 15 days, two showers and an art gala,” Kearney said. “Before long, we had 16 contracted weddings without the bride even seeing the place.”
COVID-19 has put everything in limbo.
“Early events have been rescheduled, others are on standby, they may reschedule, downsize,” Kearney said. “We could open in 90 to 120 days, but we don’t know. We have a wedding of 125 in August. Is that going to happen? We don’t know.”
What Cooper’s called the Cabana is being revamped as “The Glasserie,” a complimentary venue for a cocktail hour for weddings or anything from a funeral luncheon to a shower.
The back dining room, with a view of the river, is being fitted with a whole new glass package. A patio in the rear with fire pits overlooks the river. The front bar was gutted and will be completely rebuilt. With a revamped kitchen customers can chose from a group of preferred caterers to prepare menus on site.
“We will be able to do every detail in house,” Kearney said. “The venue gives us a lot of range to plan.”
Cooper’s once had a public bar with a popular happy hour and large draft beer selection, though right now Kearney and Granko do not plan to do the same.
“We do retain the liquor license, so, who knows, anything is possible at this point,” Kearney said.
Even without knowing what the future holds because of COVID-19, Kearney is staying positive. “Despite what’s going on, we are blessed to have this opportunity.”