Edinburg Mill readied as restaurant
Historic 1848 facility waiting on new tenant
By Preston Knight — firstname.lastname@example.org
EDINBURG — A call placed to the town office searching for Mayor and Town Manager Dan Harshman the last decade often resulted in a response that he was at the mill that day.
With this happening with such frequency, either he was on to something special at the Edinburg Mill or doing a systemic job of dodging the phone. By a long shot, it appears as if it’s the former.
Purchased by the town and the Edinburg Heritage Foundation in 2000, the historic 1848 mill, which had operated as a restaurant for 20 years after retiring as a mill, is ready to return to its use as a place to feed people. Harshman, after countless 15-hour-plus days working on all aspects of the 20,000-square-foot building, is in discussions with a couple of people about leasing the mill as an approximately 150-seat restaurant.
Much of the work has been done for the future tenant, leaving only the arrangement of kitchen equipment up to that person.
“I definitely wanted to get to the point where we knew what the feel of the restaurant was going to be,” said Harshman, who leaned on his experience from owning the Spring House Tavern in Woodstock for more than 20 years, “then look for the right tenant.”
A museum and visitor’s center, which have been open for special events, could open full-time on two upstairs floors by the end of November. There will also be additional retail space for lease, and the parking lot on the 4.5-acre site will serve the public.
Foundation President Clyde Beachy said officials would like to have interstate signs promoting the mill before it opens. An ongoing fundraising campaign has brought in $29,000 of the $30,000-$35,000 needed, he said.
There is yet another floor that is only used for storage now, but could be home to the large amount of antique clothing the museum has.
“It looks like we may run out of room, but we’ll find places to put things on display to show off the historic nature of this part of the valley,” said Beachy, who is also a Town Council member.
The crown jewel, though, is going to be the restaurant, which boasts a rustic feel to its credit and a new back room that people may be surprised to find exists. By design, the establishment will seat far fewer than the 450 it did as the old Edinburg Mill Restaurant, but Harshman is banking on the building’s history, atmosphere and the abilitHistoric 1848 facility waiting on new tenanty to still handle bus groups of at least 50 to make the $1.3 million project worthwhile and turn the town into a tourist destination.
Funding has come from donations, grants and loans, and as part of one matching federal grant, the town is responsible for 20 percent of that particular allotment.
Harshman said the town expects to be reimbursed by the foundation for any other costs it has incurred.
The restaurant’s entrance takes guests to where a bar used to be. Harshman took it out because he doesn’t think that people want to encounter a drinking area as soon as they walk in. There is a small service bar, with the former bar’s top, in the main dining room.
The idea is not to become a place for people to drink their fill, but Harshman said diners enjoy the opportunity to get alcohol with meals. He is eyeing a family-style restaurant with an extensive menu, and a place that can appeal to those looking to dress up or just be casual. Harshman stresses the need for the tenant to be able to handle groups because of the spillover business that other Edinburg attractions, as well as the museum and visitor’s center, can have.
In the back room, the mayor and town manager’s personal touch is most visible. He hung the old restaurant’s buffet line high on the wall — a tall person’s coat rack, he said — and placed old restaurant signs there, too. The room came to fruition because of a donated apple cider press, and the town needed somewhere to put it. It sits on the main level of the back room.
“I think it’s a pretty cool place,” Harshman said.
There are a few tables overlooking the main level. Harshman built wooden railings to comply with building codes for access to the upper seating area. Part of the increase in costs and delay in finishing the building through the years was making it handicapped-accessible.
There is also a banquet room, fixed up now, but not for too much longer, with art from a recent show put on by the foundation. Harshman said the restaurant tenant will need to be amenable to hosting foundation-related activities.
Anyone with plans to the contrary can expect him to actually dodge the call.
“This is one heckuva opportunity for somebody,” Harshman said. “It’s nice to see it come together.”