Bell’s owner keeps word to treat project’s workers

Posted: November 15, 2012

The Winchester Star

Stephen Shendow of Bell’s Fine Clothing prepares hamburgers for workers from Lantz Construction Wednesday afternoon. Shendow served lunch to the workers to show his appreciation for the Taylor Hotel renovations that are finally under way. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Lantz Construction workers William Shifflett (left) and Donnie Turner take a break from work to pull up to the lunch provided by the owners of Bell’s Fine Clothing on the Loudoun Street Mall.
Scott Shendow of Bell’s Fine Clothing takes a photo of workers from Lantz Construction who partook of a lunch he prepared in thanks for the work on the Taylor Hotel building, which is just across the Loudoun Street Mall from his store. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Though the temperature hovered around 40 degrees, Wednesday was a great day for a lunchtime cookout as far as Stephen Shendow was concerned.

Shendow, the co-owner of Bell’s Fine Clothing at 122 N. Loudoun St., fired up his grill in the late morning and treated the men working on the Taylor Hotel project to a hot lunch.

“I’ve said for probably five years — this project has had so many false starts — that if and when it ever commenced, I would treat the workers to lunch,” Shendow said as workers from Broadway’s Lantz Construction and subcontractors ate. “I’m just making good on that.”

Cheeseburgers with all the trimmings headlined the menu, with potato casserole and baked beans as side dishes and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. Bottled water and cans of Coke were available to wash the food down.

While Stephen did the grilling, his wife, Rachelle, provided the sides (the potato casserole drew rave reviews). His father, Irvin, and brother, Scott, helped serve.

The workers ate on wrought iron tables and chairs borrowed from the Village Square Restaurant.

“These guys are so appreciative of this,” said Mike Knight, a construction superintendent for Lantz. “They’re used to going to their trucks and eating cold lunches out of a brown bag.”

Lantz, the general contractor for the first phase of the project, is being paid $1.18 million for its work. That’s nearly one-third of the property’s estimated $3.6 million redevelopment cost.

Crews began tearing down the walls of the Taylor Hotel building at 119-129 N. Loudoun St. on Nov. 5. As of midday Wednesday, they’d ripped open the back of the one-story south addition and removed by hand most of the bricks from the south wall of the Colonial Theatre area of the main building.

Winchester Economic Development Authority (EDA) and private partner Taylor Pavilion LLC are teaming on the project.

The first phase involves demolishing the southern addition and the heavily damaged middle portion of the main structure, The remaining sections will be stabilized.

In the second phase, the front section will become a restaurant with an English pub in the basement and five upper-floor apartments. The back flytower will include commercial space on the ground floor and either an indoor climbing facility or future condominiums on floors two through seven.

In the former theater space between the buildings, a grassy pavilion and nine-bay farmers market space is planned.

The demolition and stabilization work is expected to end in February. Reconstruction efforts will begin shortly thereafter, with a finished product expected by fall or early winter of 2013.

Twenty workers partook in Wednesday’s feast.

Garlin “Leroy” Estep of Timberville said it was easy to count how many such lunches he’d received in the 33 years he’s worked for Lantz.

“Counting today,” he said, “this is the first one.”

William Shifflett of Elkton, who works for subcontractor SSI Construction out of New Market, said it also was a first for him in his 30-year construction career.

“It’s well-appreciated,” he said.

Knight said that during his 21 years in construction he’d been treated to two such celebrations at the completion of a job. But he’d never been served one early in a project, or by a person or business not directly affiliated with the project.

The unexpected meal, he said, would be good for jobsite morale.

“Something like this,” Knight said, “really motivates them.”

Might more meals be upcoming for workers involved in the project? Shendow was noncommittal.

“We’ll see,” he said, “when ribbon-cutting day comes.”

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com