SALEM - Timberlanes Motor Inn and Restaurant, a Salem landmark since 1962, was purchased Thursday by the Meadville, Pa.-based Unique Ventures Group LLC, according to Judi Newton, marketing coordinator for the Robinson Hospitality Group LLC of Pittsburgh.
Timberlanes, located at 544 E. Pershing St., closed its doors seven months ago, on Jan. 30, costing 35 jobs, after being in receivership when it was purchased by the New York city-based Ciena Capital Funding, LLC in 2008.
Newton will work with her partner, Michelle Sabatini, a restaurant consulting and operations specialist with the Robinson Hospitality Group that will manage the business.
Timberlanes Motor Restaurant and Motor Inn in Salem was purchased by Unique Ventures Group LLC of Meadville, Pa. last week. Located at 544 E. Pershing St., Timberlanes closed its doors seven months ago costing 35 jobs. Judi Newton, a spokesperson for Robinson Hospitality Group LLC in Pittsburgh, which will manage operations, said a “big thing” with the company is that it wants to develop a relationship with the community. She hopes the business can open by year end. (Salem News photo by Larry Shields)
No price was disclosed but according to county records the market improved value of two properties owned by Timberlanes Inc. is $1,591,200.
Newton said the business could be re-opened before the beginning of 2010, but was unsure.
It will retain the "Timberlanes" brand name but the restaurant may be renamed. Unique Ventures Group wants the entire business, restaurant, motel, banquet facilities and lounge to operate as they have. She when it opens, all the departments will open together.
Newton said that before that can occur, "the place needs some love" and architectural changes and improvements will come in stages.
"The prime thing is to see what there will be in renovations," she said, "we're seeing what needs to be done."
She was hopeful the restaurant, which will be under the direction of a new
"executive chef," will be able to enter the "Taste in Salem" event on Oct. 28.
The chef will create menus for the restaurant and the lounge, she said.
"We've been consulting behind the scenes," she said, adding that putting management in place is a priority before hiring begins.
"We are seeing what's needed and gathering information," Newton said, adding "we want to be community-based."
"We want the right people," she said adding they want to see the restaurant "make it back" to the days when its popularity was widespread.
"There will be history in the building," she said, adding they have already talked with a member of the Salem Historical Society.
According to a September 2006 press release by the Kennedy Funding Inc., a New Jersey based company that helps hotel and restaurant owners refinance and consolidate debt, Melissa Snively, general manager of Timberlanes at the time, received a $2.13 million to "consolidate her debt, offering the entire facility as collateral."
Ciena, which purchased Timberlanes from Wade Snively of Canton in 2008, had repeatedly said it was keeping its investment in business at a minimum fearing that Snively, who filed for bankruptcy in Akron, would exert a claim back on Timberlanes.
Ciena which hired Crescent Hotel and Resorts of Fairfax, Va., to manage the business, filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in September of 2008.
CML Loan Fund II LLC, which followed Ciena, sued Timberlanes in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court along with a number of associated defendents including Snively and Venture Eleven Inc., a company controlled by Snively.
Venture Eleven claimed it leased the property to Timberlanes.
On Sept. 4, Judge David Tobin ruled in favor of CML Loan Fund II LLC saying it held "a valid first security interest on the collateral of Timberlanes Inc. and was entitled to a summary judgement."
On Wednesday, the final accounting, clearing the title, was issued by the court.
Columbiana County courts had listed 106 records on Timberlanes, active lawsuits for money against previous owners, judgment liens and special judgments including cases against it by the Ohio Department of Taxation and many with the Bureau of Workers Compensation dating back to 2004.
Snively purchased the business in December of 2002 from Roy Paparopdis.
At one time Timberlanes employed 75 people.
It was opened in 1962 by Soph Paparodis and a partner as a small restaurant, cocktail lounge and bowling alley with 14 lanes, and remained one of the social and entertainment centers in the city.
Style has always been prominent on the Timberlanes' marquee and one of the more visible examples was the simple but elegant black and white restaurant and cocktail lounge server uniforms.
In its hey-day, Timberlanes played host to many of the very top country and western stars who performed at Ponderosa Park including Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker, Randy Travis and many, many more.
It also hosted countless political functions by county parties, drawing national and state political figures into its ballrooms.
The building was built in 1900 and once housed a Studebaker dealership.
After a 1977 fire, the owner at the time, Soph Paparodis, rebuilt the facility with a 60-room motel but without the bowling alleys.
For many years, the award-winning restaurant was the best around and drew Easter Sunday and regular weekend diners from the entire northeastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania areas.
Newton said she expected in the building later this week.
She said a "big thing" is developing a relationship with the community.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org