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Union Beer House has completed its move to the former Country Cupboard building on West Cumberland Street/Route 422, just a mile away from its previous location, bringing an end to a two-year project and opening a new chapter in the business’ history.
Owner-operator Makara “Mak” Mam first checked out the building over Labor Day Weekend in 2021 and said that things happened quickly from there – at first. The deal was closed by Thanksgiving of that year with the property purchased for $580,000.
Originally Mam had planned for Union Beer House to move last summer, but complications with the contractor caused the timeline to get pushed back.
- Union Beer House plans mid-2022 move to former Country Cupboard
- Renovation challenges delay Union Beer House move to former Country Cupboard
Mam, a 1995 A-C graduate, said that Country Cupboard was a spot he knew growing up and that when he saw it go on the market, he felt it was a golden opportunity.
When LebTown stopped by on Thursday, it happened to be the first soft opening day for the new location. Mam said he invited close customers of ours to come out and test the waters, so that he and his team could see how the flow works and get used to the new location.
Mam said that the biggest change is the additional space – he’s kept the same point of sale system, the same beers, and of course, the same cheesesteaks. Mam said that he plans to expand the menu and add daily specials, and will also be making Union Beer House fare available through online delivery apps.
Because Mam is now the owner of the building, compared to being a leaser at the previous location, he’s been able to do everything he wanted to do with the kitchen, describing it as an open canvas. Mam estimated that the new location has up to five times as much kitchen and freezer space.
Although the kitchen wasn’t yet open on Thursday, it is expected to be open this week following a “new business” food safety inspection that was scheduled for Friday. Mam said he expects the new location will open Union Beer House up to a new clientele with its expanded parking and seating, whether that’s to grab dinner on the way home for work, watch a sports game, or just hang out.
Mam said that he hopes residents of North Lebanon Township welcome Union Beer House and use it as a place to come hang out and congregate. Mam noted that a Facebook post on Sunday, April 2, teasing the opening got a big reaction, and that he wanted to be ready for an influx of patrons once the grand opening announcement was made.
Mam said that he expanded his headcount from five to seven employees to help handle the additional space and kitchen capacity. In the future, they might bring in employees to handle table service, but they’ll be figuring that out as they go. Mam said that he’s in it for the long-haul and will make adjustments as they go.
Mam said that the new location has pretty much the same everything – same beer suppliers, same food suppliers, same employees. Union Beer House’s new location does have a very distinct look compared to its former one. Mam said he wanted the outside to have a gun metal finish.
“We crossed our fingers that it was gonna work out,” said Mam. “At the end of the day, after they finished everything, we feel like our vision came through.”
Union Beer House’s last day in its former location at the Country Garden was March 26. Mam and his team then proceeded to move everything – all their 24 fridges of beer as well as kitchen equipment – the mile down Route 422 to the new digs.
Mam said his employees put in 8- to 10-hour days to make the move a success.
Along the way, Mam had to adapt earlier plans to subdivide the building and offer a separate retail space. Mam said that township parking requirements prevented that possibility and, for now, the space is being used for storage. Mam hopes that in the future, it might be reutilized as a game room with pinball and arcade games, perhaps including crowd favorites like NBA Jam, Mortal Combat, and Big Buck Hunter.
Mam said the planning holdup might be a blessing in disguise, because he’s excited about the new game room plan.
For at least the first month or two, Union Beer House will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Mam said that he might adjust in the future to be closed on Tuesdays.
“I have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old at home, so they barely saw me with these past two weeks moving in here, so I want to make sure I find time to be with them,” he said.
For more information about Union Beer House, find the beer garden on Facebook.
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