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.
Determined to pursue a career in the culinary arts, executive chef Evan Kechely mastered his craft in the kitchens of restaurants, country clubs, assisted-living facilities, farmers' markets, and other venues, opting to learn by doing rather than attending culinary school. His experiences shaped his ingredient-driven and sustainable approach to meals, leading him to fill Leaf's menu with farm-to-plate options built from locally sourced meats and produce. Kechely has also learned that beer and food go together as well as camping and boy-scout repellant, and his staff is able to recommend a brew for any dish on the menu. In addition to pairing suds with the various dishes, staffers can suggest premium cigars that can enhance flavor profiles. The eatery's advanced ventilation system even allows visitors to indulge in a puff without disturbing neighboring patrons or forcing them to stare at failed smoke-ring attempts.
At Hyperion Hair Salon, a collection of licensed stylists and nail technicians share more than 50 years of combined experience as they cater to individual beauty needs. They deftly cut the hair of women, men, and children, offering extra treatments such as texture perms, keratin treatments, and hair extensions. They also use hair-color products from Framesi for highlights and single-process treatments.
The towering willow that gave the Willowtree Inn its name still stands over the outdoor patio, where the institution's staff has been serving comfort-food classics for more than 25 years. Inside the kitchen, the cooks prepare offerings from an eclectic menu spanning everything from burgers to chicken marsala. For private events, they go above and beyond by recreating dishes from the hosts' family recipes. On Thursdays and Fridays, the tunes of live entertainment permeate the dining room.
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.