By Christopher Holland
The Current Contributing Writer
Jim Thorpe has been seeing a lot of excitement recently with new and existing businesses flourishing in the downtown, attracting new visitors to the area and stimulating the local economy.
With a panoply of options from outdoor recreation services to fine dining and so much more, locals and tourists alike are treated to delightful experiences in a quaint and charming historical setting.
And while the town is brimming with pubs and restaurants, there was a niche market that was being underserved — the craft brewing industry.
But that isn’t the case anymore after three like-minded entrepreneurs from Chester County, Pennsylvania moved in.
After several combined years working in the restaurant and craft beer/spirits industries, Jon Reddon, Bill Hickey and Chris Velas joined forces and made their dreams come to fruition with the opening of Notch Eight Craft House at 107 Broadway in Jim Thorpe.
Reddon purchased the building near the end of 2017 and immediately began renovations and the craft house opened for business earlier this summer.
“While the owners all had input on different ideas throughout the process of opening, Jon has been the driving force in executing the concept we have brought to Jim Thorpe,” said Hickey, managing partner who handles bookkeeping and financing at Notch Eight.
Hickey said that Reddon, founder, president and director of operations at the craft house, has always been a fan of the steam punk genre and design, which led to the theme of the bar and second floor steam punk lounge.
The craft house was created to showcase craft beer and spirits that are exclusively made in Pennsylvania, and Hickey says that he and his partners hope to start brewing and/or distilling their own house spirits down the road.
“This could be part of our future second floor renovations,” Hickey said.
“Currently, we get all our beer through local distributors… On the other hand, we are able to work directly through Pennsylvania craft distilleries for all our spirits,” he said.
Notch Eight serves Pennsylvania craft beer on draft with a continually changing list, Pennsylvania craft spirits made with homemade syrups, bitters and fresh fruit, and small food plates with shareable options. It also serves small batch whiskey, bourbon and rye.
Hickey said that Reddon and Velas (partner and brand ambassador) have been visiting Jim Thorpe for years, utilizing biking trails, the Lehigh Gorge and all that the town has to offer.
The building that houses Notch Eight was stumbled upon for sale during one of Reddon’s visits, and they were able to put in an offer quicker than expected.
“We were fortunate that the sale of the building came with an existing liquor license, so there were not many issues with getting everything transferred into our name,” Hickey said.
Notch Eight is the team’s first business venture, and as with opening any new business there are always a few challenges along the way.
Hickey said the most challenging parts were staying under budget for renovations to the bar and kitchen.
“We did run into some equipment issues, but we were able to find some more affordable alternatives by adding an eight tap quick draw system for the beer behind our bar, and we were able to avoid major issues by having some local companies help us with repairs on our kitchen equipment,” Hickey said.
He said that there were those few hiccups, but that he and the team were able to work together to find the best solutions.
“I believe that we have a strong team of owners, and with a little bit of hard work and focus we can accomplish a great deal together,” Hickey said.
As a 21+ pub, Notch Eight targets to serve the adult market as an adult-friendly cocktail bar.
Aside from the owners, the craft house has five employees: three bartenders, a kitchen assistant and executive chef Jake Snyder.
“We brought on Jake to run our entire kitchen program,” Hickey said.
“We are excited to have him on board and could not be happier with our choice… He plans to bring in a unique menu that will change seasonally, while focusing on shared plates.”
And while the craft house is located in the heart of the downtown, the team strived to create an atmosphere to appease both tourists and local residents.
“With our ever-changing beer, food and cocktail menus, we can give the locals a new experience almost every time,” Hickey said.
“With the tourists, we can offer them a taste of Pennsylvania at any visit… We want to spoil our guests with all the great creations Pennsylvania has to offer.”
Notch Eight business hours are Monday through Thursday, 1-11 p.m., Friday, 1 p.m.-midnight, Saturday, noon-midnight, Sunday, noon-10 p.m. and closed Wednesday.
“We are excited for the opportunity to bring local breweries and distilleries to be featured in our draft and cocktail menus,” Hickey said.
“We have a passion for this whole craft movement; we want to share it with our guests.”