|The word “Closed” is posted on a message sign outside the Sumney Tavern on Sumneytown Pike at West Point Pike in Upper Gwynedd on Tuesday, June 19 2018. Dan Sokil — Digital First Media|
|UPPER GWYNEDD >> The restaurant at the center of one of Upper
Gwynedd’s most-discussed development plans in recent years appears
to have served its final meal.
Signs reading “Closed” were posted at The Sumney Tavern, located at the corner of Sumneytown and West Point Pikes, on Monday.
“Without warning every employee is now facing a tough time. I wish everyone the best in finding a new job,” said now-former employee Narces Clarkson.
“All employees were contacted [Monday] morning and informed they were no longer employed. It’s devastating, I didn’t expect this from the owners. They are good people, and very good to me especially,” he said.
The Sumney Tavern, and the corner it sits on, has been the topic of discussion since September 2016, when a developer first proposed to build a Wawa fuel station and convenience store. After months of public hearings and feedback over the course of 2017, the township commissioners voted down one version of plans for the site in July 2017, and a revised version in November, after which the developer vowed to appeal those rulings in court while creating a new website and online petition to “Bring Wawa to Upper Gwynedd.”
The restaurant’s two co-owners have not yet responded to a request for comment.
Ed and Trish Burkholder, co-owners of the adjacent Country Bride and Gent, said in a statement to The Reporter that they were “very surprised and saddened” to learn of the Sumney’s closure Monday.
“This in no way has any effect on The Country Bride and Gent’s store operations. We are as committed today as we were in 1996 when we opened,” said the statement.
“Should Wawa purchase the property, we will be relocating within the immediate area to a larger, more modern salon. There will be no interruption of business to any of our customers. We are proud to be one of the premier bridal salons in Montgomery County, and we are looking forward to servicing the area for a very long time.”
Township Manager Mike Lapinski said Tuesday that no new plans for that site have been filed by the developer, and that the court cases regarding the developer’s appeal of the township denial of the plans are still ongoing.
“We were as surprised as anybody,” he said.
Sumney Tavern co-owners John Gawthrop and Richard Abbott said in February they had seen their customer numbers decline steadily in recent years, especially since the closure of a Giant supermarket across the street in 2015 and the talks on the future of that corner began the following year.
“That’s a shame. I’m really disappointed — they appeared to have a good business, brunch was always busy, and I was just here for Mother’s Day,” said a customer who asked not to be identified, walking her dog past the restaurant on Tuesday morning.
This is a developing story. Follow The Reporter on Twitter @Lansreporter for updates.