Bellefonte

Pleasant Gap eatery for sale, but Village Eatinghouse will only go to the right buyer

CDT photo

Melanie and Clay Phillips sat at the same table they do every Monday in the Village Eatinghouse to catch up on their business.

A closed laptop occupied one corner of the table, and folders of paperwork covered the rest. They meticulously sifted through it all, a routine the restaurant owners have gotten used to for two years.

Only recently, however, has the routine changed. A new topic has come up in their conversations — selling the restaurant.

“Selling, I don’t know, that just doesn’t sound like the right word, because we aren’t just selling it,” Clay Phillips said. “It might take a year or two to find the right person, the right fit.”

After serving customers since September 2012, they now want to sell the restaurant and continue to grow their salad dressing business.

The Phillipses said their plan when they opened was to run the Pleasant Gap restaurant and to attract interest in their handmade dressings, sauces and spices. They would then sell their dressing to local businesses in addition to operating their eatery.

They didn’t anticipate their business plan would come together so well.

“We had no idea it’d be so busy,” Melanie Phillips said. “It’s really been amazing. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me this small restaurant with our little kitchen and six tables would take off so quickly.”

The restaurant’s popularity has put them at a crossroads where they have to decide where to allocate their time.

“I didn’t realize that we couldn’t do them simultaneously in the long-term,” Melanie Phillips. “We’re doing it, but it’s very time-consuming.”

The Phillipses said they eventually want to run their dressing, sauce and spice making business solely. They do not yet have another building to move to, and they decided they would not sacrifice the restaurant for their other business venture.

“Closing the restaurant is not an option,” Melanie Phillips said. “It’d be such a disappointment to so many people, and that’s why we want to find the right person to take it over.”

The Phillipses are going to be choosy. The new owner must value customers and relationships with the local community as much as they did.

They did, after all, set up the restaurant for customers to see food made in front of them, which allows them to chat with patrons as they work.

They also purchase produce from 22 local vendors. There are 68 pieces of artwork hung on their walls on consignment sale from local artists. Customers have donated many of the decorative items in their restaurant, such as the quirky pepper and salt shakers at each table and books for the eatery’s Little Free Library.

The next owners “don’t have to do it the same, because it would be their business, but I feel they have to have that connection to the community,” Melanie Phillips said.

The Phillipses wouldn’t say for what price they’d sell the restaurant..

“I don’t want someone to just bring me a check, and that’s it,” Melanie Phillips said. “I want to them to interact with our customers and to interact with our vendors, so it’s a smooth transition for them and the community.”

They’re also in no rush to sell the restaurant.

“It’s not like we’ve put a for sale sign out front,” Clay Phillips said. “We want it to be the right person, so we can hold out until we find the right person or the right person finds us.”

They are looking forward to the day when they once again cover a table — with plates and napkins as customers.

“It will not go easily,” Melanie Phillips said. “This has been a very, very good thing for us. It won’t go without a lot of tears. I’m looking forward to coming and eating as a customer. We only live three blocks away, so this will always be one of my favorite places.”

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