BY ROBERT L. BAKER
A popular Susquehanna County restaurant destroyed by fire in April is getting a rebirth
Surrounded by about 30 of his former employees Monday morning, owner Dave Scarpetta proclaimed a new day for Bingham’s Restaurant near the interchange of I-81 and Pa. Rts. 92 and 106.
Ground was broken on the site of the old restaurant which was torched by a former employee.
Daniel Parsons, 19, admitted to setting the fire and then returned as a volunteer firefighter to battle the blaze. He was sentenced in September to 3-8 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $2 million in restitution.
“We’ve missed the camraderie of seeing everyone every day,” restaurant manager Karen Wakalowski of Harford said. “It will be one great reunion when we reopen.”
Scarpetta said plans are to have Bingham’s open in April, “and our first customers – on the house – will be the firefighters who risked their lives to save this place back in the spring.”
He said it was the community’s sense of ownership of his restaurant that has inspired him to rebuild.
And, although the building will be new, Scarpetta said “It will have a homey, country feel of a place where people feel comfortable and can count on getting a great home-cooked meal besides.”
He said that Bingham’s will have 25 to 65 full- and part-time employees, the latter amount during the peak season of July and August when vacationers are out and about.
Contractor Mike Paolucci added that the building will be one story, and it will have a little more seating than the previous one, with a capacity to serve 175-185 people comfortably.
The two other tenants who had shared the building with Bingham’s before the fire – Country Landmarks Real Estate and The Outdoorsman, a sporting goods store – would be working out of their homes, Scarpetta said.
He noted that the old Bingham’s had been there since 1983 and he acquired it in the 1990s.
He acknowledged that throughout his years he was blessed to have good employees and a loyal customer base.
And, one of the reasons for the loyalty was because of its pies and other baked goods.
Sen. Lisa Baker, R-Lehman Twp., remarked Monday that when she told her son that she was going to be at Bingham’s he asked her to bring him back a chocolate cream pie.
She said that wouldn’t be happening Monday but she’d be one of the first ones back in the spring to get one.
“Their pies are hard to beat,” she said.
Asked where all of his customers went while Bingham’s has been out of business over the past six months, Scarpetta said he really wasn’t sure.
“I don’t know where they’ve been, but I hope they come back,” he said.
“The people who supported us have told us resoundingly that they miss us,” Scarpetta said. “But not as much as we miss them.”
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