Thirst T's owner brings vision of upscale restaurant to reality in Olyphant
Jan 31, 2013 (The Times-Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Sometimes, it just takes a little makeover to give new life to a building, a business and a career.
Thomas Tell, a former chief of staff in the House of Representatives for the 113th district who also owned T's Corner News & Laundromat in Scranton for a time, was looking for the right place to open his own restaurant for six years.
When the space where Runco's Tavern and Grill had operated in Olyphant became available, Mr. Tell saw the possibilities for the type of bar and eatery he saw himself running.
"My vision was to create a place to bring your spouse, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, and feel comfortable having a drink or having a meal," he explained. "This area lacks places for the 28-and-up crowd. I'm big on safety, security and people enjoying themselves."
To get the building ready for reopening as Thirst T's Bar & Grill, Mr. Tell invested 11 weeks and about $500,000 in the property and extensive renovations. He gutted the interior and redesigned the layout, brought in state-of-the-art smokeless vents for the ceilings and top-grade lighting.
The bar features 18 taps and a full range of microbrews, IPAs and high-end beers, as well as a martini list that's a big hit. Bar manager Gina Tanana even developed a signature house drink, the HTO: a sweet, frozen blue concoction.
Head chef Dave Barron has been hard at work in the kitchen perfecting the menu of American and Italian dishes served seven days a week, including his homemade calamari and fresh ground beef burgers. Fresh-cut potato chips and fries, as well as wing bites made from freshly cut and breaded chicken show he doesn't cut corners, whether he's preparing bar food or larger dishes.
The pizza at Thirst T's is an Old Forge-style square topped with a four-cheese blend, based on Mr. Tell's recipe that he developed at his parents' deli, Tell's Corner News, years ago.
Homemade soups like the capaletti and French onion are "to die for," Mr. Tell promised, and daily specials keep the menu fresh.
Thirst T's has room for about 75 including the bar, though Mr. Tell is working on the next phase of expansion which includes renovating the upstairs of the building into a family-friendly dining room, and making his outdoor patio and deck one of the largest in the area. The menu will grow as the accommodations do, he added.
Thirst T's also boasts a full entertainment schedule throughout the week, including open mic night with Graces Downfall on Wednesdays, acoustic music on Thursdays, and bands covering a variety of genres on Fridays and Saturdays. Food and drink specials get their own nights, too, such as on Wing Night Mondays or Saturday Martini Nights.
Response from the public has been positive across the board on everything from the food to the atmosphere to the new look of the place, Mr. Tell said, and it's only the beginning.
"We're a little upscale, but not to the point we're outpricing the blue-collar crowd," he said. "We're a little corner bar with bigger ideas. It's a nice area here, with good people."
Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org, @pwildingTT on Twitter
Thirst T's Bar & Grill
Address: 120 Lincoln St., Olyphant
Owner: Thomas Tell
Cuisine: American and Italian
Prices: $2.95 to $12
Kitchen hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 5 to 10 p.m.; Fridays, 3 p.m. to midnight; Saturdays and Sundays, 4 to 11 p.m. Bar open until 2 a.m. daily.
Website: Like the fan page on Facebook
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