Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Larry Holmes' Hopes to Reopen Pub in Time for Birthday Celebration

By Christina Georgiou

Larry Holmes hopes to reopen his pub, Champ's Corner, by early November in time to celebrate his birthday there, he said Monday evening after gaining approval from the Easton Zoning Hearing Board to do so.

"I'm going to be 63, and I want to celebrate my birthday in it," he said.

Holmes will be returning to the site of his former restaurant, Ringside, in one of the buildings on land he developed and owns located along the riverfront near the forks of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers.

While it's the same space he used to occupy, the building's location in the flood plain necessitated a special exception to allow the restaurant use again, which the board unanimously approved after a short discussion.

Because the buildings, which Holmes had built shortly after becoming a  world heavyweight boxing champion, were designed with their proximity to the waterfront in mind, flooding isn't really a problem, he testified.

"One of the things we did when we built the building..is we put steel pallets in the ground and raised the building above the flood zone," Holmes said. "We've had three or four floods since then, and the parking lot got wet but we never had any problems."

With the zoning hearing board approval, the only hurdles the pub faces in reopening is permission from the state for its liquor license to be transferred back to the site and for the city to issue plumbing and electrical permits for contracting work to be completed, along with a certificate of occupancy from the city when the work is done.

Holmes said he expects there will be no issues with the liquor license transfer and hopes it will be accomplished within a couple of weeks.

"It shouldn't be a big problem," he said. "I've never had any liquor problems."

The ministry Holmes' daughter was running out of the space has already relocated to the neighborhood center in Southside, Holmes said, adding that the space was a bit overwhelming for the small congregation anyway.

Champ's Corner will employ about nine or ten people, and the employees in the former Ringside location will probably all be new hires, Holmes said.

"They'll all have to say, 'welcome to Champ's Corner', or they won't have a job," he said, adding that he wants the atmosphere to be welcoming and friendly.

He'll leave most of the day-to-day operation to managers, he said, though patrons will see him there from time to time, much like at the former Ringside restaurant and at Champ's Corner when it was in Southside.

And, as attached as he is to the restaurant and the buildings he owns, he's not ruling out selling them either.

"If someone offers me enough, I'll sell it," he said. "I've been in it since 1979."

Holmes added that another grandchild, Chase Marinelli, was born Sunday, and he'd like more time to spend with his six grandchildren and three great-grand children.

"His father says he's going to be a big boy and play football," Holmes said of  the latest addition to his family. "But I said, 'what about the boxing gloves?'"

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