To see Gino Majewski’s vision of a resurrected Charl-Mont, I had to close my eyes. I look forward to the historic eatery’s eventual rise from the ashes, but on Tuesday it was still nesting in sawdust.
So it seemed odd that Lackawanna County Commissioners Pat O’Malley and Laureen Cummings would invite the press in for a walk-through, better described as an obstacle course. The space was littered with buckets, boards and unboxed ovens, blueprints and floor plans, plywood and pallets.
No tables. No chairs. No counters, coolers or cash register.
In an invitation to the nonevent, the commissioners asked for “any coverage” The Times-Tribune could provide. Because my editors have a sense of humor, they sent me. Commissioner Jerry Notarianni skipped the walk-through. Cummings and I chatted amiably until medical marijuana came up.
While we waited on a straggling TV crew, I asked the $18 million question:
“Why are you guys doing this now?”
“We wanted to show this man’s vision,” he said, pointing to Majewski. “We want people to see where this is going. This is one of the biggest construction projects in the history of this city.”
My guess is O’Malley was referring to the $18 million overhaul of the former Globe store as a whole. He bristles at any suggestion that the Lackawanna County Government Center at the Globe isn’t as awesome as advertised.
It isn’t, but I’m happy to report that the walls of the future Charl-Mont are a warm beige. Guess they finally tapped out that tanker of robin’s egg blue they sloshed on most of the building’s interior.
The county also preserved the original metal ceiling tiles, an ornate nod to the Globe’s former glory. Painted white, they gleam with possibility.
In October, the administration said it cost the county about $100,000 to shape up the 1,511-square foot Charl-Mont space for lease, including the cost of installing bathrooms. There were no toilets on Tuesday.
I asked whether there were any costs over what was reported in October. I was told to file a Right to Know Law request for the information. Majewski, 47, of Old Forge, will pay the county $1,500 a month to lease the space. He will fund the restaurant and its equipment and inventory from his own pocket.
Like the Globe overhaul, Tuesday’s Charl-Mont walk-through was a rush job. The restaurant isn’t ready. Majewski hopes to open in mid-May, but that’s cutting it awful close to the May 21 primary election. Tuesday’s nonevent wasn’t about vision. It was about a preening politician being seen as a visionary who thinks big for the little guy.
I’d rather listen to the little guy. Gino Majewski struck me as an honest man with a genuine desire to make Scranton a better place. Seeing the Charl-Mont through his eyes was inspiring. I have nothing but love and respect for someone willing to invest time, toil and treasure in the future of a city long ago sold out by preening politicians.
Walk-throughs are for pretenders. I’ll be back for the follow-through.
CHRIS KELLY, the Times-Tribune columnist, looks forward to investing in Gino Majewski’s vision one lunch at a time. Contact the writer: kel
firstname.lastname@example.org, @cjkink on Twitter. Read his award-winning blog at timestri