The process to rebuild Frankie I’s Bar & Grille in North Strabane Township seems to have screeched to a halt recently, but the owner apparently is still moving forward with the reconstruction.
Excavators began moving dirt in mid-April, and the concrete foundation was poured shortly after, prompting owner Frank Iannarelli to predict an aggressive construction schedule that would have the restaurant reopening in early fall.
But progress slowed in recent weeks, with little activity at the site. Fire destroyed the popular bar and restaurant Jan. 26, 2012, and Iannarelli previously said it took longer than expected to obtain proper building permits, acquire loans and remove old farm holding tanks below the 100-year-old barn that originally housed the business.
Iannarelli did not return repeated phone messages seeking comment on construction. However, his mother, Joyce Iannarelli, said construction is still moving forward, albeit slower than expected.
“It’s coming along,” she said. “They’re doing a lot of stuff inside because the foundation was so high to get it up to the level of the (rear) parking lot.”
She said that interior work includes plumbing and electrical wiring.
She did not elaborate on the construction timeline or know when Frankie I’s might finally reopen.
North Strabane Township officials said Tuesday that a building permit for the property won’t expire until July 2016.
“It’s going,” Joyce Iannarelli said of construction. “It’s slower (than expected) for some reason.”
The new bar and restaurant is expected to keep its classic barn appearance and vaulted ceiling. Frank Iannarelli said in April he wanted to combine the restaurant’s original rustic atmosphere with a modern touch and new interior layout that could accommodate bands and other live entertainment.