The night after John Chacko, a hardworking man about to realize his dream, purchased the Jimmy's Central Lanes bowling alley, a roiling flood ripped over the banks of the Susquehanna River and destroyed the site. As a solitary man standing amid the wreckage, it would have been easy to walk away, but that wasn't his style. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves, ripped down the walls, and pulled up the floors. Not even a nail could be salvaged, but his love for the alley was still fully intact.
Today, it's hard to believe Chacko's was once under water. New lanes run as far as the eye can see, marked by fluorescent purples and blues, and a Memory Lane Lounge offers respite with draft beer and flat-screen TVs. But Dan Chacko still remembers the deluge. Bowling-alley patrons can stop into his pro shop and pick his brain about that breathtaking flood, or they can seek his advice on bowling-related matters such as how to pick up a split or how to match your wardrobe to your bowling shoes.
While peering through the glass-covered hole in the floor of Flow Bar and Restaurant, you may catch a glimpse of a featured item on next week's menu swimming through the underground Mauch Chunk Creek. Executive chef Zachary Pelliccio—whose farm-based upbringing informs his ultra-fresh fare—procures produce and earthy high-fives from the hands of Lehigh Valley and Pocono-area farmers as well as meat, poultry, and eggs from the likes of Spring Mountain Farms of Lehighton. Pelliccio crafts starters such as a duck rillette with cranberry and green-tea preserves and large plates including a grass-fed burger on house-baked brioche, realizing the edible portion of the renovation dream of co-owners Victor Stabin and Joan Morykin. The husband-and-wife team bought the circa-1850 stone building in 2004. Temporarily trading his paintbrushes and her journalist's laptop for a hammer and nails, Stabin and Morykin and a team of artisans conducted a overhaul lasting four years. The historic space has been a wire mill, silk mill, and toy factory, and now also houses art classes and galleries featuring the work of local artists, including Stabin himself. One gallery is devoted to encouraging children's creativity and has showcased the talents of the couple's two young daughters.
Every year, as the snow starts falling, the town of Jim Thorpe dusts off a charming sense of nostalgia and channels the holiday spirit for their Olde Time Christmas celebration. A parade at the end of November heralds the tree lighting, which in turn kicks off weekends of lights, stage plays, and Victorian touches that evoke A Christmas Carol without all of the blood-thirsty aliens Dickens was so fond of. Historic mansions combine with small-town elegance to create an ideal tableau for the festival, which hosts events that include a gingerbread house contest, historic ghost walks, and a live nativity. Kids hop on a train with Santa while others settle in for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, sending the staccato of clipping and clopping through the streets. Dulcet notes from a choir glide through the air at local churches while patrons walk to and fro amongst local businesses and a stand of handmade wreaths.
Inside Cinema Center, moviegoers are enveloped in a state-of-the art film-viewing environment to enjoy the latest Hollywood flicks. Bring a friend or frenemy to catch a new release, such as The Dilemma, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, or The Green Hornet, a quirky take on the superhero genre starring Seth Rogen. Indulge eardrums with the mellifluous luxury of digital surround sound while Cinema Center theaters’ stadium seating ensures clear sightlines and good angles for not throwing popcorn.
The Steel Pub’s interior draws its inspiration from the location’s former tenants—Bethlehem Steel—by incorporating decorative flourishes such as red- and white-striped walls, exposed duct work, and a horseshoe-shaped bar encased in corrugated steel. An industrial-style garage door crafted from steel and glass opens up to an outside patio where patrons can sip beers amid the otherworldly glow emitted from the nearby Bethlehem Steel blast furnace. A 40-foot window near the bar bestows guests with views of the pub’s other neighbor, The Steel Ice Center, whose hockey players and rogue ice sculptors choreograph a steady stream of activity on the sidewalk.
Out of sight, chefs compile 15 different handheld meals using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. They infuse Stryker Farm bratwursts with Weyerbacher craft ale and blend beef chuck and brisket to serve as the base for burgers topped with fried shallots or wing sauce. To accompany these rib-sticking morsels, they slave over pots of homemade sides and starters such as french 5 onion soup and buffalo-chicken dip.
From the old film reels hanging from the ceiling to the Beatles memorabilia and movie props on the walls, Deja Brew is steeped in a sense of nostalgia. The same devotion to classic creations can be seen in the café's menu, which christens several sandwiches using references to everything from Bethlehem Steel to Pulp Fiction. Along with burgers, salads, and fresh soups, Deja Brew serves a variety of teas and classic espresso drinks and brews cups of coffee from its in-house Colombian blend, rather than the supermarket's bags of arabica and pinto beans.