SPRINGFIELD – Peter Picknelly doesn’t want to be a restaurateur, but he does want to save a city landmark.|
Picknelly explained to Reminder Publications that his motivation to buy the Student Prince/The Fort restaurant is simple: “I became involved because it would be terrible for The Fort, an anchor for the city, to close.”
The announcement was made last week as the restaurant neared its last days of operation. Picknelly spoke to this reporter after spending part of the day at the restaurant.
“I do think it needs to be modernized a bit,” he said.
Picknelly said there are “cosmetic issues” that need to be addressed and that since summer is traditionally slow for the eatery being closed at this time to make the changes is “ideal for us.”
He added there are modifications needed in the kitchen as well.
Picknelly said he hopes all of the renovations are completed in time for the restaurant to re-open in time for Oktoberfest.
He said the Student Prince needed some capital to undertake these changes, which he has provided and added he is partnering with experienced restaurateurs who would manage the eatery. Picknelly noted he has reached out to his brother Paul, who owns hotels, for advice.
He said he would like to keep as many of the current staff in place and that former co-owner Rudi Scherff would stay on as a greeter, which Picknelly explained is the role Scherff would like to have.
Picknelly said with a laugh that he would not be in the kitchen himself.
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