By Monica Pryts/Staff Writer
Anyone who has recently driven past the former Benjamin's restaurant just outside of Mercer can't help but notice the building is coming to life after sitting empty for about two years.
"It will be getting a much-needed facelift," said new owner Jason Slagle, who recently closed on the property at 787 Mercer-Grove City Road, Findley Township.
If all goes as planned, the restaurant will re-open around Nov. 1 under a new name: Sleggels.
"I made it a palindrome," he said of how it's spelled the same backward and forward.
Slagle, a 1994 graduate of Grove City High School and father of three, bought the building earlier this year at a sheriff's sale; the previous owner went bankrupt.
"It was a shocker to the community. It was a popular place," he said, adding he'll bring back the casual, family-friendly atmosphere that made Benjamin's a great place.
He kept that in mind - how diners missed the restaurant - while driving past the property almost every day from his Jefferson Township home to his job in Grove City at RMS Systems Inc., which is housed in the former armory building on Erie Street.
His father Richard started that business about 25 years ago; RMS builds custom electronics for coal-mining equipment and the younger Slagle has worked there for about 20 years.
Slagle has also operated residential rental properties in the area, but running a restaurant is a new business venture that he's excited to try, and the enthusiasm is spreading throughout the community and on Facebook, where a photo of the "sold" sign in front of the property is circulating.
"I have people stopping constantly," he said of passers-by pulling off of state Route 58 to ask for an update and congratulate him on buying the restaurant, which will seat about 130.
And some of those people were regulars at Benjamin's, so Slagle can't wait to open for business.
"It's almost overwhelming, it's been so great," he said of the response.
The menu at Sleggels will be very similar to what was served at Benjamin's - steak, burgers, seafood and sandwiches - and Slagle said he's already hired a head chef and bartender.
He's going to keep the structure of the building the same and will be buying new equipment, tables and chairs, but everything, inside and out, will be getting a makeover.
Slagle declined to share details of exactly how Sleggels will look, saying he'd rather keep it under wraps until the grand opening.
"People are just going to have to wait and see," he said with a smile.
Published Aug. 31, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.