Le Manhattan Bistro In W-B To Reopen Under New Ownership
WILKES-BARRE — A new owner who is well-known in the local restaurant and bar scene plans to reopen an upscale downtown restaurant that abruptly closed in November last year.
Rob Friedman of Dallas said Saturday that he will take over Le Manhattan Bistro at 264-268 S. Main St. in downtown Wilkes-Barre but he’s not sure if he will keep the same name.
He hopes to reopen the restaurant in March and said it may initially be BYOB until he receives a liquor license transfer. He said it will still serve “French-influenced cuisine” but other food options will be available as well for people who don’t want to choose a French dish.
“We will be making some changes to the place, mostly cosmetic, because the place is spectacular,” Friedman said.
Friedman took over another restaurant, Kevin’s Bar & Restaurant in Kingston, last year and completed major renovations.
He has owned the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains Twp. for the last 25 years. He also owns Cork Bar & Restaurant in Wilkes-Barre, Grico’s Restaurant in Exeter, the Beaumont Inn in Dallas and Friedman Farms, a popular site for barn weddings.
He said he plans to employ an “amazing chef” who he did not yet identify at Le Manattan Bistro.
He hopes to bring back some of the former employees but he also placed an announcement on Friedman Farms’ Facebook page for a job fair and hiring event that will be held Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m. at Le Manhattan Bistro. He said he is looking for bartenders, fine dining servers and some additional kitchen staff.
Le Manhattan Bistro closed last year after the operator was evicted for not paying rent. The eviction was carried out a by a locksmith and members of the Luzerne County Sheriff’s Department.
The building’s owner, Main and Ross Properties LLC, on Nov. 19 had filed a judgement against restaurant operator and chef Gwen Le Pape, alleging he owed thousands in past and advance rent.
The company sought Le Pape’s eviction and $63,570, which included attorneys’ fees. Other reasons for the eviction included approximately $20,000 in tax liens filed by the state and judgment filed by food suppliers.
Friedman said he knows the building’s owner Sam Johnson from being a former consultant for Friedman Electric and will have a lease agreement with him.
“Sam is a great guy and I’m excited to be right in downtown Wilkes-Barre,” Friedman said. “The city is coming back and it’s becoming a residential haven for more people and more professionals. I feel Wilkes-Barre and the downtown are going in the right direction.”
Le Manhattan Bistro is located in a century-owned former bank building that Johnson also converted into 16 upscale apartments.
Friedman said he plans to open the restaurant for dinner Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and for brunch on Sundays. He said it will likely open about 4:30 p.m. and remain open until 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the weekends.
Friedman has a history of purchasing other landmarks in the area and renovating and reopening them.
He purchased Cork Bar & Restaurant in 2017 from Ruth Corcoran after purchasing Grico’s Restaurant and Catering, a landmark in business for more than 80 years, from Pat Greenfield in 2016.
In 2013, he restored and reopened the Beaumont Inn after it sat idle for about seven years. The restoration including the opening of a refurbished dining room and bar, remodeled hotel rooms with different themes and the addition of an outdoor patio.
Friedman said when he looks to purchase restaurants, he buys the ones that have a history of success. He said he likes to make improvements to “make them even better.”
He said the key to having successful restaurants is the employees. He relies on his managers and executive chefs to make many decisions and he said he’s fortunate to have a “great team.”
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