A family from Kennett Square, Pa., purchased Schaefer's Canal House in Chesapeake City for $1.6 million last week with the hopes of re-opening the long-defunct waterfront landmark.
"It's my Christmas present," new owner John Giordano said Wednesday as he talked about his family's plans to open the restaurant or the banquet hall by mid-summer.
"At this point, we're not sure which will come first," he said, referring to his business partners, who include his brothers Domenic Giordano Jr. and Frank Giordano, as well as Frankie Broomall.
The Giordano brothers currently own and operate the in Kennett Square eatery Giordano's Restaurant and Sports Bar, which their parents opened as a pizza parlor 30 years ago.
"We are hands-on business people," Giordano said. "One of us unlocks and locks the place every day."
He said the family spent 18 months negotiating with former owner Charles Cao of Baltimore before finalizing a deal on Dec. 6. Cao, who owned Middle Branch Marina in Baltimore, purchased the property from the DellaBarba family in 2006 for $2.875 million.
The restaurant and banquet hall closed in 2005 after the DellaBarbas reportedly fell behind on mounting business debt.
The Giordano brothers initially had tried to lease the facility from Cao, but became interested in purchasing the property after Cao's business partnership dissolved and the property went into bankruptcy.
"We've been so busy trying to concentrate on the purchase that we haven't decided exactly what we will call the restaurant or what our theme will be," Giordano said.
He did, however, promise to deliver good food to the north side of Chesapeake City.
"We'll bring some of our most popular dishes to Chesapeake City, but we'll add some new seafood dishes," he said.
Giordano said Chesapeake City town officials have been supportive of the family's efforts to reopen the establishment during an initial meeting regarding permits and design proposals.
He said the family hopes to eventually open the whole property, which includes a 150-seat restaurant and bar, a 10,336-square-foot banquet hall, boat docks and a large parking lot on nearly three acres.
Giordano said he knows they have their work cut out for them.
"It will be a phenomenal place when it's done," he said.