The owners of the Grapevine Restaurant in Amherst are buying the site of the former Hearthstone Manor, which closed last month after 47 years in business, and are planning to renovate the building and operate it as a banquet hall.
Liza Pane said she and her husband, Tom, will continue to run the Grapevine Restaurant, and a banquet facility located in the nearby Ellicott Creek Fire Company hall, after the expected June opening of their Grapevine Banquets.
The Panes have been interested in growing their banquet business for some time and were drawn to the site of the former Hearthstone Manor because of its prime spot in Depew.
“Both of us have been looking for a location that would house a banquet facility, because we wanted to expand,” Liza Pane said. “It’s obviously our passion.”
Also Wednesday, an attorney for the former owners of the Hearthstone Manor said the group is planning to use some of the proceeds of the sale of the property to refund customers who had put down deposits for events that were later canceled.
Richard A. Grimm III said the Hearthstone’s shareholders are working with the State Attorney General’s Office to coordinate the repayments, which could amount to between $40,000 and $45,000 owed to about 70 customers.
“The owners of the Hearthstone are going to repay, or return, the deposits that their customers had made,” Grimm said.
Wednesday’s dual announcements come 6½ weeks after the Hearthstone abruptly closed its doors. The popular banquet hall hosted hundreds of wedding receptions, political rallies and fundraisers over five decades.
The Hearthstone’s owners said at the time they wanted to find a buyer who would keep the facility open and they would make every effort to refund the deposits of customers, who were forced to scramble to find an alternate venue after the Hearthstone closed.
The new owners are buying the Hearthstone property, not the defunct business. The Panes have operated the Grapevine, which seats about 160, on Niagara Falls Boulevard for more than 30 years.
Since 1990, they have hosted events at the fire hall on South Ellicott Creek Road, and since 2000 they’ve been the exclusive caterer at the venue, which can seat up to 225.
But Liza Pane said the couple sought a larger venue, and the Hearthstone, which can hold as many as 2,000 guests, fit that bill.
The transaction has not yet closed, Liza Pane said, and she declined to comment on the sale price. The Grapevine Restaurant employs 60 people, and Pane said they eventually could employ 30 to 60 people at the renovated banquet space.
The people who owned the Hearthstone business aren’t entirely the same people who own the building and property, but there is some overlap between the two ownership groups, Grimm said.
State business records identify Carl Kidawski as CEO of both Hearthstone Manor Inc. and Beachway Realty Corp., which is listed in county real estate records as the owner of 333 Dick Road, but Kidawski is just one of several co-owners.
The shareholders of the Hearthstone who do have a stake in the property will use some of the sale proceeds to pay back the customers, Grimm said.
James Morrissey, an assistant state attorney general who is based in Buffalo, is assisting in the repayment process.
“We are in active discussions with Hearthstone, with the goal of obtaining 100 percent restitution for all consumers involved,” Morrissey said in a statement.