Downtown passersby got a glimpse Sunday of how the front of the Tin Pig Tavern will look when it opens in the old Gamble Block at 1203 Second St. after more than a year of painstaking restoration and rehabilitation of the commercial landmark.
The building is owned and will be operated by J. R. Sheffer, the Osceola restaurateur behind success stories such as the Sports Page Grill, the Wobbly Boots Roadhouse smokehouse barbecue in Clive and the Brickhouse Tavern pizza and beer pub in Indianola.
Construction on the building has gone on for more than a year, led by Sheffer and his son, David Sheffer, and nephew, Adam Sheffer. Heather Sheffer, J. R.’s wife, helps with the painting. They appear to have spared no expense in bringing the 120-year-old downtown building back to its former condition of glory.
“We were about 30 days out,” Sheffer said, “and then half the roof blew off. We’re working through the insurance now, but that’s slowed us down some.” He said it might now be the fall before the restaurant opens.
Originally known as the Gamble Block, the building was built in 1899 after fire destroyed all the properties on both sides of Second Street between Warford and Lucinda streets. The Gamble Block in now on the National Register of Historic Buildings.
Each floor has about 6,400 square feet in area. The long-vacant upper floors were previously divided into 15 one-bedroom units plus two law offices. Thomas said the provisional plan for restoration foresees six two-bedroom units on the third floor and five more on the second, along with a utility room.
J. R. Sheffer said he is bullish on Perry and committed to small-town business success.
“The hard thing in the small communities is getting operators to go to them,” Sheffer said. “Most people are afraid of the small communities, but I’m totally opposite. I think you can do a fantastic business. We’ve had success in every small town we’ve put a restaurant in. I don’t think Perry will be any different. We jump into the community with both feet. Once we’re there, we’re in.”
While the kitchen was temporarily put out of commission when the roof blew off, the Tin Pig Tavern will still celebrate Perry’s sesquicentennial Saturday, July 6 by bringing up a load of chicken wings from their Wobbly Boots outlet.