Buyer of Harrisburg’s federal courthouse details plans for luxury apartments 

The company that purchased the Ronald Reagan Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse announced on Friday that it intends to develop the property into a luxury apartment building. 

The 246,000-square foot courthouse, located at 228 Walnut St., Harrisburg, was recently purchased by Global Ocean Investments for $10.01 million. 

A deed filed in Dauphin County public records late last month showed that the property sold to R.R.F Building LLC, a subsidiary of Global Ocean. 

The investment firm wrote in a press release on Friday that it plans to renovate the federal building to house 288 luxury residential one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The building would also include a penthouse only floor, two restaurants and a bar. 

The project has an estimated completion date of 2024/2025 and would be marketed toward young professionals in Harrisburg, according to Global Ocean. 

The Harrisburg courthouse was built in 1966 and sits across from the city’s Strawberry Square and the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex at 228 Walnut Street. It was initially listed at a starting bid of $3 million last September. 

“The ex-Federal building sits at the corner point of the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex in Harrisburg and offers spectacular views across the city. We aim to create the most desirable residential address in Harrisburg with cutting edge separate facilities you would normally see in an international five-star hotel,” said Justin Etzin, founder and CEO of Global Ocean. 

Global Ocean is an international real estate development company specializing in boutique developments. The company, which has a U.S. office in Las Vegas, has projects in Europe, Africa, the U.S. and the Caribbean. 

Along with its plans to develop the building, the firm has also listed the property on commercial real estate listing site LoopNet for $22 million.  

Global Ocean was not immediately available for comment on the listing. 

Atlanta-based deli chain to open first midstate location 

The counter at McAlister’s. PHOTO PROVIDED

National sandwich chain McAlister’s Deli is opening its first franchise in the midstate with the opening of a deli in Harrisburg on Dec. 13. 

The Atlanta-based chain of 500 restaurants announced the opening of the new store this week, co-owned by Rathna Sivasailam of Mechanicsburg. 

“We are so excited to open our first McAlister’s Deli and bring this restaurant to the Harrisburg community,” said Sivasailam. “We knew this would be the perfect addition in town and we’re ready to share our table and McAlister’s famous sweet tea with Harrisburg.” 

McAlister’s offers sandwiches, breakfast, snacks, spud bars, salads, sandwich trays, box lunches and desserts.  

The  4401 Jonestown Road location features a dining room, catering and pickup window. In addition to the soft opening celebration, there will be an official grand opening next year. 

The company operates in 29 states and was founded in 1989. 

New brewery to open in Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill location incoming 

The owner of two midstate restaurants is opening one of two locations for his new brewery concept next week. 

Matt Flinchbaugh, owner of Flinchy’s Restaurant, Bar and Deck in Camp Hill and Home Slice at Walden in Mechanicsburg, announced the opening of two new High Road Brewing Company locations. 

High Road Brewing Company’s High Road Taproom is set to open at 146 Walden Way in Charter Homes & Neighborhoods’ Walden community in Mechanicsburg on Thanksgiving Eve. The new brewery will feature food items served by Flinchy’s, Home Slice and other restaurants in the Walden community. 

“We are blessed with a huge following of beer connoisseurs, and owning a brewery in my hometown has been a dream for years,” said Flinchbaugh. “I’m familiar with this community and am excited to offer customers quality craft beers along with fresh locally grown and produced foods in a relaxing family-friendly atmosphere.” 

The restaurateur has yet to announce the opening date for the brewing company’s upcoming Camp Hill Borough location, which is part of a partnership between Flinchbaugh and Neighbors & Smith at 1801 Market Street. 

Neighbors & Smith at 1801 Market Street’s neighborhood retail and office location recently opened in Camp Hill’s business district and will house the new High Road Brewing Company. 

The restaurant will have a menu with small plates and shareables as well as existing favorites from Flinchy’s and Home Slice. It will feature indoor dining spaces on three levels, a two-sided bar with garage doors opening into the restaurant, private dining spaces and mezzanine overlooking Camp Hill. 

“We are excited to create a live brewery where you can watch our brewmaster create some of Central PA’s best craft beers in a new and distinctive atmosphere,” said Flinchbaugh. 

Fast Italian restaurant opens sixth location in two years

Presto Fast Italian opens its sixth location in August. The midstate chain offers build-your-own pasta dishes. PHOTO/PROVIDED

Presto Fast Italian, a swiftly growing pasta restaurant chain, is set to open its sixth location next month after first opening in Lititz in 2019.

O.N.E. Hospitality Group, the parent company of the build-your-own pasta chain, said this week that it will be opening Presto Fast Italian in Shrewsbury, York County.

The new location marks the sixth Presto that O.N.E has opened since 2019 following locations in York, West Manchester Township and Springettsbury Township in York County and Lititz and Lancaster in Lancaster County.

Presto Fast Italian opens its sixth location in August. The midstate chain offers build-your-own pasta dishes. PHOTO/PROVIDED

“We opened half of our stores during the pandemic so we’re excited to see what the future holds as we return to more normalcy,” said Calderone. “We can’t wait to share our one-of-a-kind concept in new markets. We plan to try different location types locally before expanding regionally as a franchise.”

Presto customers can build their dishes with choices of pasta, sauce, veggies and protein, similar to a Chipotle or Subway, said Toni Calderone, the chain’s owner.

“When most people hear pasta, they think of a big, long meal that requires a sit down dining experience,” said Calderone. “With Presto, we’re flipping that idea on its head with fresh pasta, or gluten free or zucchini noodles if you’re inclined, and plenty of fresh veggies.”

The Shrewsbury Presto is expected to open at Shrewsbury Commons on August 16.

PPP round 2 is easier, more targeted, applicants say

Harrisburg-based restaurant and brewery The Millworks, closed since December, plans to reopen in March.

Ahead of that reopening, the restaurant will receive its second round of PPP. For restaurant owner Josh Kesler, the new round of the Paycheck Protection Program has been a much easier navigate than it was last April.

Since its creation early last year, the program’s restrictions on what businesses could do with the money to receive loan forgiveness was the subject of criticism. In its second go-around, businesses like The Millworks now have up to 24 weeks to spend the funds and can use them on an expanded list of expenses including operations, supplier costs, worker protection and property damage.

Lenders have also had time to streamline their submission processes.

“The first round was helpful but it created a lot of uncertainty and anxiety,” Kesler said. “In the second round, the process was much clearer because everyone including the SBA, financial institutions and borrowers had all been through it before.”

Last month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched the newest round of the program, backed by $284 billion in funding through December’s coronavirus relief bill.

PPP gives eligible businesses a low-interest private loan meant for payroll and other costs. Businesses that follow the program’s specifications can then apply to have their loan forgiven.

The most recent round, which can be applied for until the end of March, allows businesses that never applied to use a process nearly identical to the first round. Businesses seeking a second draw from the program must have 300 or fewer employees, demonstrate a drop in revenue for one calendar quarter compared to the previous year, and show they used all of their first-round money.

This year’s program is also focused on getting funds to smaller businesses. Whereas the first round gave 2.5 times a business’s average payroll costs with a max loan of $10 million, businesses drawing a second time are limited to $2 million.

Despite the new rules, the first two weeks of new loan submission went smoothly, said Nora Habig, M&T Bank’s central and western Pennsylvania region president.

“In the first round we had to set up the process,” she said. “This time it was about changing the things that needed to be adjusted and not so much making the entire process (from scratch).”

In its first two weeks, M&T received more than 14,000 completed applications requesting approximately $1.9 billion in PPP funding for businesses employing about 360,000 workers.

Lenders with more than $1 billion in assets began submitting applications to the SBA on Jan. 18, while smaller banks were approved to begin on Jan. 15.

Jeramy Culler, vice president and business banking manager at F&M Trust, said much of the Chambersburg-based bank’s prep before submissions opened was focused on making the process as efficient as possible for borrowers.

Harrisburg-based Centric Bank had about 755 submissions for $81 million by Jan. 26.

Submissions often spike in the first weeks of the program, according to Patricia Husic, president and CEO of Centric Bank. However, while the program went much smoother than it did the first time, smaller businesses without their own financial staff can still hit roadblocks, she said.

“The moment when these business owners need to get all this data together to submit, they don’t have the sophistication to pull it together,” she said. “When you have a company with a controller, that’s not an issue. A lot of these companies don’t have a CPA on call.”

In a third potential round, Husic said she would like to see the process eased in a way that puts less stress on those companies without readily available financial help.

P.F. Chang’s extends layoffs to 525 employees state wide


Restaurant chain P.F. Chang’s laid off 525 employees across the state as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The layoffs will affect restaurants in Lancaster, Delaware, Allegheny, Bucks and Montgomery counties.

The Scottsdale, Arizona-based Chinese restaurant chain announced the upcoming layoffs in a series of Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notices to the state Department of Labor and Industry.

P.F Chang’s wrote in one of the notices that it initially reduced operations and hours in response to Pennsylvania’s attempts to stop the spread of the virus through limiting dining room capacity and allowing only for takeout early in the pandemic.

In Lancaster, the company laid off 75 employees from its 1577 Fruitville Pike restaurant. According to the WARN notice, the company does not know how long the layoffs will persist and they are directly related to the pandemic.

“The reduction of work hours at this location are the unfortunate result of sudden, unexpected COVID-19-related circumstances that were conditions outside of the company’s control and for which the continued duration is still unknown,” the company wrote in the notice. “The reduction of hours lasting beyond six months was not reasonably foreseeable until now.”

No employees will have bumping rights to replace any less senior employees at other P.F. Chang’s locations.

West Shore developer closes on $2.2 million commercial center in Cumberland Co.

A satellite photo of a parcel of land purchased by developer Cinco Guys LLC. The site is expected to house the developer’s new ‘Poplar Square’ commercial center. PHOTO PROVIDED.

A 3.5-acre site in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County, will be the new home for Poplar Square, a commercial center featuring a medical office, restaurant and space for up to four stores, the developer’s real estate firm announced on Wednesday.

The site, at the corner of Erford and Poplar Church roads, was purchased by West Shore-based development group Cinco Guys LLC for $2.2 million. Lemoyne-based RSR Realtors represented Cinco Guys in the sale.

As part of the agreement, the Chapel Hill United Church of Christ congregation at 701 Poplar Church Road, will demolish its current building and lease a new space at the property, according to Garret Rothman, RSR’s Broker of Record and a partner in the firm.

“Not only does the church not have to move, but it will also be able to lease brand-new space at a much lower overhead than what they have with their current building,” Rothman said. “In a true win for all concerned, the planned Poplar Square commercial center also complements the growth along that section of Erford Road.’’

Rothman added that Cinco Guys plans to submit plans to East Pennsboro officials soon and begin construction early next year.

Minority- and women-owned businesses big recipients of Lancaster’s small biz emergency funds

The $1.525 million Lancaster City Small Business Emergency Fund disbursed money to 143 businesses during its allocation round, it was announced June 22.

Created to support Lancaster city small businesses hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the fund received 232 applications from April 29 to May 10. Each was reviewed and scored based on eligibility requirements to ensure demographic diversity of ownership, geography within the city and diversity of industry.

Fifty-seven percent of recipients were women-owned businesses and 50% were businesses owned by people of color.

The fund included $1.25 million in highly flexible, low-interest loans and $275,000-plus in grants. According to the release, more than four times as many applicants sought grants rather than loans.

“We are overwhelmingly pleased that this fund has reached so many underserved businesses in our community,” says Daniel Betancourt, president and CEO of Community First Fund, said in the release.

The recipients included barbershops and salons (21%), retail stores (18%) and restaurants and food businesses (17%). More than 55% are located in downtown Lancaster.

The most common planned uses for the money – grant or loan – were rent or mortgage payments (51%) and payroll (21%). In total, 118 grants worth a combined $274,400 were handed out and 25 loans worth a combined $561,000 were distributed.

ASSETS, Community First Fund and the City of Lancaster developed the fund with the city’s “most vulnerable small businesses in mind, specifically women- and people of color-owned businesses,” according to a release. “These businesses historically struggle to receive traditional financing and recently experienced difficulty receiving funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.”

Money was contributed by the City of Lancaster, ASSETS, Community First Fund, EnCourage Lancaster, Fulton Bank, the High Foundation, the Ferree Foundation, Rodgers & Associates, and James and Kanako Clarke.

A second phase for the Lancaster City Small Business Emergency Fund is under discussion.

Farm-to-table café to open at the foot of Masonic Village campus

Wisk Cafe, a new farm-to-table restaurant in Elizabethtown, is planned to open in November.(Photo: Submitted)

A new farm-to-table restaurant is expected to open in November at the edge of the Masonic Village at Elizabethtown campus.

To be called Whisk Café, it will be operated by restaurateur Amy Kreamer, who has long dreamed of opening a café specializing in farm-fresh breakfast and lunch. The opportunity arose through a Facebook post by the Elizabethtown Area Chamber of Commerce.

The post described an empty building for rent by Masonic Villages, a senior-living organization based in Elizabethtown. In comments on the post, Elizabethtown residents said they hoped the space would become a farm-to-table restaurant. Kreamer took the opportunity to tell Masonic Villages she was interested.

“Most of what people wanted in that space was what I was thinking in my head,” said Kreamer, owner of two Lucky Ducks Bar and Grille restaurants, one in Elizabethtown and one in Derry Township, Dauphin County. “I love the idea of farm-to-table breakfast with fresh pastries, specialty coffee and a place where you can have a great breakfast and do some work on your computer.”

Whisk Café will be located at Masonic Villages’ Sycamore Square Marketplace, a cluster of four stone buildings next to the Elizabethtown train station. The marketplace houses a number of businesses, including Masonic Village Home Health and Hospice, Pure Sound Hearing Aids and Toshiba Business Solutions.

The building is an empty shell without electricity or heating. Construction is expected to begin on the building next month with Kreamer planning to open the business in early November.

Kreamer will be renting the 4,310-square-foot building from Masonic. Debra Davis, public relations manager for Masonic Villages, said the restaurant is convenient for residents of the village, visitors coming from the train station and village staff.

Kreamer plans to offer an early-bird special, as well as discounts to first responders and employees of Masonic Villages.