The Spoke set to expand in downtown Amherst

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

AMHERST — Owners of a longtime downtown bar intend to expand the establishment and add food service in early 2018.

Management at The Spoke, 35 East Pleasant St., has a plan to double the size of the bar by taking over the lease from the adjacent space used for 40 years by The Sub & Pizza. With the expansion, the bar will double in size to 2,667 square feet.

Owner Chad O’Rourke told the Select Board Monday that he will add in-house food service with the expansion, with access to an oven and a fryolator that will supplement a popcorn machine, microwave and crockpot that is used to prepare appetizers.

Using the same kitchen that the restaurant had, O’Rourke said he will be able to add traditional pub food such as pizza, sandwiches and chicken wings.

“For us the desire is to actually get a kitchen to use, with real refrigerators and walk-in coolers, and stuff like that,” O’Rourke said.

Kristi Bodin, the Amherst attorney representing O’Rourke, said once approval comes from the Select Board to license the new space for alcohol sales, the next step will be applying for and receiving a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals by the end of December.

“We are hoping to have the expansion completed early next year, but the timing depends on how long the permitting process takes,” Bodin said.

The Select Board delayed a vote on licensing for The Sub area for alcohol sales until its Dec. 11 meeting. Some questions remained about the occupancy limits and whether renderings of the new space included the attic storage area.

O’Rourke, who also run The O’s in Sunderland and The Tavern in South Deerfield, purchased the bar’s assets earlier this year.

Select Board member Andrew Steinberg praised the transition, noting in nearly a year of O’Rourke’s ownership there have been no issues.

“I really appreciate how the transition has gone to your ownership with this establishment,” Steinberg said.

Select Board member Constance Kruger said it’s just a coincidence that one of the stations for the Valley Bike Share program will be at the nearby Kendrick Park. The Spoke’s sign depicts a person riding an old-fashioned bicycle and the phrase “a drinkery to meet, relax and enjoy.”

Before its recent closing, The Sub, a grinder and pizza shop, had been in business for more than 40 years. Efforts to reach its owners were unsuccessful, but the restaurant put an explanation on its website about the decision to shut down:

“It is with great sadness to let all our loyal customers know that the Sub & Pizza is no longer. We appreciate all the years of loyal patronage. It was our pleasure serving each and everyone of you.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.