Amid pandemic restrictions, the restaurant industry has been struggling. Nonetheless, a local favorite has opted to reopen.
The Firehouse Restaurant on N. 2nd Street closed about a year ago, but was just bought last month by new owners from Atlanta. They hope to open it next month.
“We want to keep the name. We want to keep the feel, and we want to bring it back to life,” co-owner Eric Swilling said. “We know there’s a huge following here. We are going to do everything we can to exceed everyone’s expectations.”
The Firehouse is located in downtown Harrisburg’s historic Hope Fire Station, which was built in 1871. It has been a restaurant for over 20 years, though has been closed since July 2019.
The business will remain The Firehouse, and much of the aesthetic will stay the same. Swilling said there will only be small renovations to brighten up and modernize the space.
The menu will be upgraded, Swilling said, featuring numerous seafood options, as well as entrees like steak and prime rib. The team hopes to bring some dishes from their hometown of Atlanta to Harrisburg.
Most importantly, Swilling explained his desire to create a fun atmosphere that fits with the lively arts scene in the city. They plan to have cocktail hours and live music. Swilling said the third floor of the restaurant will be used as event space.
“We are truly about the community,” Swilling said. “I’ve never had a business where I wasn’t hands-on. One of us will always be here. We need to be on a first-name basis with people.”
He explained that the three owners have about 20 years of combined experience in the food service industry.
With Gov. Tom Wolf’s new restrictions on bars and restaurants due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the owners recognize it’s a difficult time to be opening. Swilling said they plan to follow the state’s orders by setting up tables outside the restaurant and keeping capacity inside limited for the time being.
Swilling sees opening during the crisis as a way to serve the community.
“Our goal is to open as soon as possible,” he said. “With the whole COVID thing, we want to give people another dining option to choose from.”
The Firehouse Restaurant is located at 606 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg.