Boehringer’s hopes to reopen for summer
Chris Schnader’s cell phone buzzed Tuesday afternoon in Adamstown as it had almost non-stop since early Sunday morning.
Instead of greeting Boehringer’s Drive-In’s lunchtime overflow of the happy, hurried, and hungry, Schnader vacillated between ripping burned out ceiling tiles and taking calls from renovators and restoration specialists.
“Here we are prime season and out of business,” Schnader lamented.
A fire started from a new milk shake blender which activated a burglar alarm at the business at 3160 N. Reading Road Sunday at 2 a.m. The unmistakable smell remained Tuesday of burned synthetic, plastic, and wood materials that caused flames and heavy smoke to billow from the restaurant.
“It doesn’t look as bad from the outside,” he said. “But there’s a lot more than you realize and a lot to repair.”
Reminders of a normalcy dotted the burned-out restaurant: menu boards, ice cream cone adornments, and an almost full crimson drink fountain remained untouched amid the scorched ceilings, floors and walls.
The building will be emptied of all equipment today. Workers then will remove what’s left of the ceiling, rewire the electric, and replace the HVAC.
“We’re going to be working hard at it — we’re hoping to be reopen in four to six weeks,” Schnader said. “But I’m at the mercy of contractors right now.”
There’s no temptation to “drop” the building and entirely rebuild the cramped business opened by Schnader’s great-grandfather in 1936. Not much has changed before or after Schnader purchased the business from his father in 1992.
“Our customers have been very clear in their support and urgency that we ‘please don’t change more than you have to.’ I feel that way myself,” Schnader said.
What’s also clear is Schnader’s commitment to his mostly teen staff of 40 part-time employees. Schnader has worked there since he was 15 years old.
“I want them back to work ASAP,” he said. “I have college kids home for the summer and high school kids who are counting on that money. There’s a lot of people depending on it.”
Customers can expect to find the same old-time hamburgers, fries and homemade ice cream from the same cramped building and front parking lot flanked with wooden benches near a winding stream.
“I mean we just don’t make changes,” Schnader said.