The mere mention of Tonelli’s long-awaited second location on Horsham Road causes Chip Randa to rub his forehead.
“That place couldn’t have come closer to bankrupting us,” he said, adding that he and his wife Maura are spending $120,000 a year for the property “to sit there.”
After closing on the property which previously housed the Moon Tavern, Randa said he discovered that the area had been used as a dumping ground for construction materials. In all, “400,000 cubic feet of unsuitable soil” was present in the area surrounding the existing building.
Between $150,000 in legal fees fighting the previous owner and $300,000 in architect, engineer and surveyor fees, Randa said the site – once envisioned as an arena – has caused him quite a few headaches. The existing footprint of the building was deemed safe to build on, so Randa said he spent another $200,000 reengineering earlier plans to follow that approach.
“Every single dollar that’s made is going to fund this mess called the Moon Tavern,” Randa said.
Months after receiving land development approval to construct the new location, Randa said he is awaiting permits and expects construction to get underway in either winter or spring, with the restaurant opening, hopefully, in summer 2013.
“If we don’t start construction I’m going to personally take a sledgehammer,” he said.
People frequently inquire about the new location’s opening, particularly since a sign erected on site lists August 2011 as the opening date.
Randa, searching for a silver lining, said the delays have given him “five years to think” about the best layout for the three-level restaurant that, once complete, will be three to four times bigger than his current location.
“I’ve driven the architects mad and the engineers mad by tweaking and tweaking and tweaking.”
Those tweaks, the Randas hope, will result in a new, larger restaurant, which, over time, could be expanded with banquet and party rooms.