At the Stockyard Inn, chairs, glassware and dishes familiar to generations of diners have been grouped and numbered for display, held for an ongoing online auction that will disperse the contents of Lancaster Town’s iconic restaurant .
Most everything is for sale as the Fournaris family end their nearly 70-year-old restaurant business along Lititz Pike. It was one of the oldest restaurants in Lancaster County, still in operation. The online auction of the restaurant’s contents, which ends on Tuesday, follows the final closure of the restaurant’s dining room in early September and the sale in May of the property to a developer planning an apartment complex of $ 48 million and 216 units on site.
Once the sale was finalized, Jim Fournaris, 57, said he would consider options for a new business that could include a version of the Stockyard Inn elsewhere, but would not include his parents and co-owners, Tom and Athena, who are withdraw from the business.
“It’s all we’ve ever done. Does that mean that’s all I need to do? Said Jim Fournaris, who remembers washing glasses in a restaurant when he was in elementary school. “Maybe part of me is like, ‘Why not try something new? “”
The Fournaris family still own the Stockyard Inn restaurant’s liquor license and name, assets which, along with the proceeds from the real estate sale and auction, could be used for a new business that may include only ‘a small restaurant.
“Regardless of Jim’s involvement, we were helping him,” said Athena Fournaris, who is 79 and continued to work at the Stockyard Inn until it closed.
But Jim Fournaris said serious consideration of a next step would not begin until the dust settled from the auction, adding that any new restaurant would be launched with new furniture and equipment.
“If we decided to do something in the same area, we would start with new equipment,” he said.
Prepare to sell
To prepare for the auction, the Fournaris family spent weeks unpacking and putting away the dishes, utensils and equipment they used in the restaurant that Thomas’s father first opened in 1952. , much of which was stored in the basement.
The auction, which includes stoves and other kitchen equipment, is also a true table service time capsule, illustrating, for example, how plates and glassware have grown larger and more uniform over the years. .
“We have like four generations of plates, really. Incredible, isn’t it, ”said Athena Fournaris.
The older plates are more colorful and smaller, which means that they only contain the main proteins of a meal. Vegetables and other sides were served separately in smaller, all-purpose “monkey bowls”. Earlier versions of the plates were often paired with metal lids which were useful for stacking and transporting many plates together, and dramatically revealing an entree to customers.
“Over time you didn’t use that plate size anymore, you moved on to a bigger plate,” said Athena Fournaris, noting that most dinner plates are now large, square and white, capable to contain a steak and all the dishes.
The auction’s 755 lots also include red-top bar stools and upholstered chairs as well as many types of tables, several large mirrors, and a myriad of pots and pans. One hundred and ninety eight salt and pepper shakers will be sold in 11 separate lots. One of the tables in the bar room was reserved for a longtime customer who needed it.
The online auctions for the auction, which are managed by Hess Auction Group, end at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The information is available at hessauctiongroup.com.
The historic site has become an iconic restaurant
The original four-room stone farmhouse on the Stockyard Inn site is believed to have been built in 1750, with major additions in 1850 and 1922. The property’s most famous owner, James Buchanan, purchased it in 1856, just before become president. He sold it to the Pennsylvania Railroad eight years later.
In 1895, the Lancaster Stockyards was founded on adjacent farmland, and the farm was converted into an inn that served visiting cattle ranchers in what would become the largest stockyard east of Chicago.
James Fournaris bought the Stockyard Inn in 1952 and the restaurant grew into an upscale steakhouse that endured as a Lancaster culinary institution long after the adjacent stockyards calmed down. As recently as 1994, stockyards auctioned 70,000 head of cattle, but the business died after the largest dealer, Dunlap & Sons, closed in 1999.
Located near the Amtrak station at a city gate, the Stockyard Inn has been watched by a variety of developers, the Fournaris family said.
“But not a single one wanted to keep it as a restaurant,” said Jim Fournaris, noting that a two-story restaurant that could seat 270 people was unwieldy. “It’s too big. He’s a monster.
With his parents well beyond normal retirement age, Jim Fournaris said a Ben Lesher redevelopment plan appealed to them, both because of Lesher’s holistic approach to them and the project as well. that of his commitment to save the oldest part of the restaurant. A sale of the 4.6-acre property was finalized in May for $ 3.65 million, with the Fournaris family renting the restaurant since then.
Lesher’s redevelopment plan, which is currently under review by the city’s Zoning Hearing Board, includes a proposal to reduce the historic restaurant building to its older parts and then move it from the center of the property to the side. of Marshall Avenue where it would become a clubhouse for apartment tenants.
“I am so happy that he appreciated the history of the building,” said Athena Fournaris. “We were happy with that. It would have been very sad to drive on Lititz Pike and not see The Stockyard anymore. “