By Jim Hagerty
DOWNTOWN — Although what will become of the empty lot at the corner of Chestnut and South Main streets is still up in the air, the building next door will soon be part of an established restaurant’s expansion.
Sister’s Cafe, a staple on Kilburn Avenue on the city’s westside for more than 20 years, will open Sister’s Cafe on Main, at 307 S. Main St., next spring.
The address is the space vacated by Magpie, which closed when a fire destroyed the adjacent Hanley Furniture building in June.
“I think it’s awesome and exciting to have a new location downtown to be part of the growth,” Sister’s owner Latreece Nealon said.
The location been a point of contention between Magpie owner, Stephanie Caltagerone, and her ex-landlord, former building owner Sam Pirrello, who has since signed the property over to the UEP Investments 2, LLC, a company controlled Urban Equity Properties, the owner of the Hanley building.
Caltagerone claims Pirrello violated their lease when he used a quitclaim deed to transfer the building to UEP, an issue still going through the courts.
Urban Equity Properties attorney Jeff Orduno told The Times in October that UEP expected Magpie to reopen once the building, damaged by the June 25 fire, was rehabbed. When nothing materialized, the space was made available for lease, UEP said.
For Nealon, the timing could not have been better. She’s coming in at a time when construction begins across the street on the 13-story Embassy Suites. There’s also an urban grocery store and hybrid steak and sushi restaurant coming to the neighborhood at State Street.
“With the new developments and businesses (going in) downtown, they need a great breakfast and lunch cafe with home-style cooking and fresh-hot coffee,” Nealon, who became the owner of Sister’s three years ago, said. “We are putting some thoughtful planning into this, so we are excited and looking forward to this new project.”
Nealon said her Main Street menu will mirror what she serves on Kilburn–breafast all day, meatloaf, tacos, roast beef, biscuits and gravy, Friday fish fry and steak and eggs on the weekend. A future dinner menu may follow.
“People like our food,” she said. “And if you really think about it, there is no breakfast cafe downtown, so we are excited to serve the downtown community.”
What will occupy the space left by the Hanley fire has not been announced. The city spent more than $600,000 demolishing the building just ahead of the Fourth of July weekend, a cost it initially planned to recover from Urban Equity Properties. That was before UEP took control of 307-309 S. Main St., and agreed to take care of the code violations Pirrello was left with after the blaze.
That project, starting with the stabilization of the wall the building shared with Hanley, began in late October. Remediation of the structure is still underway. R.