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TOUCH OF EURO-STYLE
New Bed & Breakfast To Open Next Month In Southbridge
Reprinted from the Southbridge Evening News
His first impression of the sprawling, Victorian-style historical building at 14 South St., Southbridge was enough to convince Jonathan S. Krach to open a restaurant there.
If he and his wife, Lisa, needed any further convincing, it came in the form of an eerie coincidence after they decided to call the restaurant Vienna.
They learned that the town, established in 1816, almost was not named Southbridge. Town fathers had been considering alternatives. One of them was Vienna.
"That settled it," owner Lisa A. Krach, 36, said yesterday inside what will be the family's new home and business at the intersection of Main and South streets. "We said, 'Well, that's definitely got to be it.'"
Actually, the name had its roots more in Jonathan's family, which hails from outside Vienna. He has spent time in the Austrian city since childhood, and both he and Lisa have also traveled there.
Having picked a name, the Krachs set about converting the single-family home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, into a restaurant and bed and breakfast inn. The former owners, Gabriel McCarthy and Margaret Morrissey, renovated the former eight-family tenement before selling it.
The process, which has included securing the necessary local permits and variances, started last January, and while some work remains - the family will continue to add antiques to the dicor, for example - the Krachs expect to open the dining room and three suites early next month.
"We'll definitely open before Valentine's Day," Lisa said.
When it opens, local economic planners are hoping Vienna will enhance an ongoing downtown revitalization effort that has included luring new businesses and attracting visitors from other communities.
The Krachs are hoping their "intimate, petite European-style hotel," with about 20 rooms and seven baths on three floors, will complement the nearby Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center, which offers 203 guestrooms.
There has already been a marked show of interest in the new restaurant, said Jonathan, who will serve as chef. He said he has already sold several gift certificates and has fielded telephone calls seeking reservations at the inn. The town, he said, seems ripe to support a unique venture.
"They say this is the 'Eye of the Commonweath'" Krach said, referring to the slogan attached to signs at each town line. "I think it's a town that has a real vision for its future. The people know they need some high-end restaurants here."
The Krachs intend to do their part to offer an upscale destination, while maintaining a friendly, intimate atmosphere.
"What we're trying to create," explained Jonathan, who celebrated his 42nd birthday yesterday, "is when you walk into this place, you're taking a trip back in time to when things were more gentle, more simple."
"You're walking into our house, literally," he continued. "We're going to treat you like a houseguest."
Patrons will enter through the front door just off a 19-space parking lot. Just inside is a combination bar-front desk and staircase leading to the second the third floors. A dining room wing is on each side of the bar, with a fireplace in each one. The restaurant will accommodate 47 people and will offer a German-influenced menu with a full breakfast and four-course dinner. Among the offerings will be baked stuff lobster, braised rabbit, and fresh New England seafood. Of course, no German-influenced menu would be complete without Wiener Schnitzel. Tableside service will also be offered.
A corporate room for private functions, meetings, and other events is in a suite on the second floor. There are five suites in all, each offering about 500-square-feet of space.
In addition to two more suites on the third floor, there will be an office room for guests who might want to make telephone calls or use a computer.
The family lives in a rear section of the building, and is still in the process of moving in. One sentimental touch has already been added, however, in the form of a "Vienna Street" sign given by a friend as a New Year's gift.
Running a restaurant is nothing new for Krach, whose family owned the Hofbrauhaus, a German restaurant in West Springfield, from 1980-1995. The family also once owned the Log Cabin restaurant in Holyoke.
Krach, who also works as a consultant determining the types of uses that suit a particular building, and his wife helped run a business similar to Vienna after the Hofbrauhaus was sold. The couple and a friend developed a country inn on a 500-acre farm in Charlemont.
Krach was introduced to McCarthy by one of his bartenders, who also worked as a mason for McCarthy. Krach was retained to help determine possible uses for a building McCarthy was renovating on Hamilton Street.
"He said he had one other project he was working on and wanted to know what else he could do with it," Krach recalled. "I saw it and said 'I've got to open a restaurant here.'"
Added Lisa: "He came home with a dazed look on his face."
Jonathan was nothing less than amazed at the work McCarthy had done on the building.
"This place was painstakingly renovated," he said. "I would never tackle the job he did."
The Krach's project got off the ground under former Town Manager Michael J. Coughlin Jr., who Jonathan Krach credited with selling him on the idea of opening a business in town.
"He brought us to the table and let us know we could do business here," said Krach.
Several others also facilitated the move, including Economic Development Director Cassandra Acly, who Krach called a "great cheerleader for the town."
Said Lisa: "[Acly] makes you feel like anything can happen. She is wonderful."
Acly said she is "thrilled" about the new business, and said it fits perfectly with the town's aim of boosting its image to outsiders.
"It will mean another fine eating establishment, another destination in Southbridge," she said. "I think that's important. It's also another historically significant building being brought back to life."
Local historians and building officials have aided the process, Jonathan added, saying: "There's definitely a core group of people that appreciate the architecture that's worth saving in this town."
The Krachs are visibly excited about their new business, and plan on things only getting better in the future.
"Several years down the road, we want to raise the level of service and appointments," Jonathan said. "And we'll continue to enhance the level of decorating."
If the town continues in its support of the business, he reasoned, the future should be bright.
"Everyone here has just been so supportive and so encouraging," he said. "This is a very welcoming community."