Monday Sep 25, 2023

What’s next for Tony Wang’s? Gish’s Furniture buys former Lincoln Highway strip mall | Local Business

Recently considered for a pair of hotels, a strip mall near Tanger Outlets that includes the former home of Tony Wang’s Chinese Restaurant has been bought by a local furniture retailer.

Landisville-based Gish’s Furniture & Amish Heirlooms, which has a store at 2191 Lincoln Highway East, spent $2.25 million in December for the 6.6-acre property at 2205-2217 Lincoln Highway East, intending to build a bigger store there for itself.

While that is still the primary plan, Michael Gish, the company’s president and CEO,  said he is now also considering some other proposals for what he calls “some of the most prime retail land in the county.”

“We are investigating any and all opportunities for redevelopment of that property,” Gish said. “While we are planning on enlarging our retail operations there, we are looking at some other redevelopment opportunities that are arising with that property.”

Gish declined to discuss any specifics about alternate proposals.

A retailer of oak and cherry furniture made by Amish craftsmen in Ohio, Gish’s opened its first retail store in December 2003 in Camp Hill. It now also has stores in East Earl and Cockeysville, Maryland, in addition to the current one near Tanger Outlets.

With the company recently expanding its Camp Hill store and building a new warehouse in Ohio, Gish said the existing, roughly 12,000-square-foot Lancaster store has come to seem too small, noting that one five times its size could be built on the newly purchased tract nearby.

If a new store is built, Gish said he would look to lease out the current Lincoln Highway East store to someone else.

Gish said he hopes to have a plan in place by the end of March, noting that the company, which operates with 30 employees, would like to keep the new property even if they aren’t the ones to redevelop it.

“It was as eyesore for years and years and years. We’re looking forward to the opportunity to do a significant upgrade there, regardless of what direction we decide to go,” Gish said. “We’re not going to just sit and wait on this property. We’re going to move fairly quickly.”

The property was sold to Gish by Lincoln Properties, a successor to S.M. McMinn Inc. which bought it from McMinn’s Asphalt Co. in 1971.

A prime location

The site is directly across Route 30 from Tanger Outlets, just west of Dutch Wonderland. It includes three small commercial buildings and a house as well as a wooded area that extends back to Mill Creek, more than 450 feet from the highway.

Lincoln Beverage beer distributor still occupies the building next to the former Tony Wang’s, and will be staying through the end of April, Gish said. Sam’s Man Cave, which sells beer memorabilia, closed in early January and is now doing online sales.

Gish’s Furniture got an agreement of sale on the property last July and county property records show that the sale was finalized Dec. 29.

“People come to that section of Lancaster from all over the East Coast. The visibility is just unbelievable,” Gish said. “Is there a better stretch in Lancaster County? To me it’s the best. IT doesn’t get better than that.”

While there are no final plans, Gish said the existing buildings would likely be torn down as part of any redevelopment.

“I would highly doubt if any of those original buildings would remain on site,” he said.

Last vestige of landmark restaurant

Tony Wang first opened his namesake Chinese restaurant at the property in 1982. It closed in March 2020 and then the owners announced in January 2021 that the closure was permanent, citing the impact of the pandemic as well as some health problems for Tony.

Patricia Wang, who ran the restaurant with her husband, said she avoids driving by the old place because it makes her sad. “I’m looking forward to it being leveled … it’s just a building; we have the memories,” she said Wednesday.

Before Tony Wang’s closed, its owners had already been looking for a new location because of a plan to tear down the buildings and put up hotels.

In January 2020, Delaware-based SSN Hotels disclosed plans for two four-story hotels on the property: a 96-room TownePlace Suites by Marriott extended-stay hotel and a 109-room Hyatt House conventional hotel behind it.

The $32 million hotel plan received several necessary approvals from East Lampeter Township officials and had been slated to begin construction in early 2021 but was put on hold near the beginning of the pandemic in spring 2020. At the time, a SSN Hotels spokesman cited the “huge impact” that COVID-19 had on the lodging industry.

No one from SSN Hotels responded to messages seeking comment on the former plans for the Lancaster hotels.

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