The Brick House History Lesson

At the turn of the last century, the two properties that The Brick House now occupies, housed vaudeville theaters. The Lyric Theater occupied the space where the main bar and dining areas are today. The Capitol Theater is above the game room / banquet room. In the 1940's the Capitol was converted into one of Butler's 5 movie houses. Legend has it that Houdini performed and Herbert Hoover campaigned there sometime along it's storied history. Movie house records, found in the rafters, indicate that 100's came to see movies on a nightly basis.

The Capitol Theater is still intact today on the second floor. In the early 1970's the Capitol side of the building was purchased and renovated into a restaurant by The Eat 'n Park Corp. where it remained until it's late 70's move to New Castle Road. Their renovation carefully protected the key elements of the Capitol Theater thus preserving this Historic site. Note: Sometime in the 80's our good friend Johnny "The Shoe" Chiprean turned part of the building into a short lived disco! Believe it or not! He went on to own a couple of successful nightclubs in Meadville.

After numerous ownership changes and failed attempts at renovations in the eighties and nineties, the two buildings were purchased in 1998 by three friends: An Importer, a Lawyer and a man with a big hammer. The Importer left to travel the world. The Lawyer had to do what Lawyers do. So the man with the big hammer began doing what he loves to do best - renovate! Long days and nights were spent during demolition and renovation of the huge facility. They call it sweat equity, but it's really blood, sweat and tears equity. More than one visiting well wisher exclaimed, "This is going to be a restaurant? You've got to be kidding!"

But the man with the big hammer had a vision and was not one to listen to naysayers or the feeble hearted. When the local city official said he should just "tear it down", he said, "I will build something that no one here has seen before." When the construction engineers said the roof couldn't be raised for repair, he found a way to raise it. When the painter said the ceiling couldn't be painted, he painted it. When the competition sued to try and force a delay, he persevered. Brick by Brick, The man with the big hammer got by (with a little help from his friend the Lawyer).

The night before the "practice run" dinner, to which 60 guests had been invited, there were crates of equipment unopened and inventory stacked in the corners. One new employee, unfamiliar with the resolve of the man with the big hammer, dared to suggest that they delay the opening. Hanging from a ladder, 20 ft. in the air, with one hand on an 8 ft. long Tom Panei original, the other hand holding the big hammer, he exclaimed, "We're opening tomorrow!!! Anyone that doesn't believe me can get out!" He worked on into the night, long after everyone else had gone home.

The fact is, he never did go home - until it was all finished.

The next night, on the Eve of Columbus Day, the year of our Lord, 2000, the man with the big hammer stood on the balcony, gazing down upon the 60 guests, at their candle lit tables. The new staff was hurrying about serving steaming plates of delicious food and creative cold libations. He smiled to himself, put down his big hammer, and savored his first beer.

The Brick House, a new independent restaurant, had been borne.