MANCHESTER -- Kyle York will soon be able to pour beers from among 20 taps in the same spot where he once cashed out customers buying team uniforms at Indian Head Athletics.
This wasn’t a fluke decision or a spur-of-the-moment partnership.
The former sporting goods store — across Lake Avenue from the SNHU Arena — is transitioning to the Shopper’s Pub + Eatery at Indian Head, set to open in May.
York, an executive at Oracle + Dyn, and several family members own the property. York will own a minority stake in the pub with college football teammate Joey LaCava, part of a fourth-generation family operating Shopper’s Cafe in Waltham, Mass.
“We both played football together (at Bentley in Waltham in the early 2000s, and we became close friends,” York explained outside the pub’s noisy interior construction zone.
“Shopper’s was the bar and grill (where) we would go and get some beers and get a meal after a game or just throughout college,” he said. York remembers telling LaCava in those days that downtown Manchester needed “a quality neighborhood pub and grill,” and that “someday when my parents retire,” they should look at putting a pub there.
York’s parents, Don and Gail, closed the sporting goods store last summer. He denies elbowing his parents to speed up their retirement plans.
“If you know anything about my mom and dad, they’re going to do something on their own terms,” he said.
The property, at 18-20 Lake Ave., is owned by Kyle York, his wife and parents.
The Yorks and LaCava will spend around $750,000 to renovate the building and equip the 100-seat restaurant.
A brick facade will greet front-door customers while windows facing Lake Avenue will be opened during the warmer months. The place will feature 30 televisions, including four that will form a Jumbo-tron like scoreboard effect “like you’re in an arena,” York said.
The silhoutted sports figures and a sign from Indian Head Athletics’ old facade will be displayed inside the pub. Indian Head, which opened in 1958 at the Cigar Building on Canal Street, operated from the Lake Avenue location since 1980.
York said his family “wanted to make sure that we tied it into the heritage of the city and of the family business.”
The pub hopes to tap downtown and Millyard workers at lunch time, students from Southern New Hampshire University and University of New Hampshire at Manchester, and crowds headed to the SNHU Arena across the street for concerts and sporting events.
The construction of a Residence Inn by Marriott next door is a case of “serendipitous timing,” York said.
The pub will employ 30 full-time and part-time workers, have 18 parking spaces, and offer keno.
The project took advantage of a tax credit program that lets developers improve certain properties in downtown areas and not pay property taxes on the value of the improvements for up to five years.
“I think it’s incredibly helpful in those early five years to get that tax break from the city,” York said. “It also really focuses your investment that you can put into the physical location.”
LaCava said it helps to “reestablish nice buildings” and “not see vacant storefronts.”
“I think the neighborhood pub concept will complement Manchester’s dining scene really well,” said Mike Skelton, president and CEO of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
“One of our strengths as a downtown is we have an option for everyone, and the concept they are pursuing at the Indian Head location works perfectly for the young professional or downtown resident or worker looking for a casual spot to grab lunch or to catch a game on the weekend,” he said. “It’s very exciting to see the familiar Indian Head name and the York family involved, as they have such a great history and commitment to the city.”
LaCava said his great-grandmother started the Waltham restaurant in 1937.
Most everything is made in-house, including the secret marinade for the steak tips. “You won’t get the recipe,” vowed LaCava.
York said about 95 percent of the Waltham menu will be duplicated in Manchester.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel with what we do,” LaCava said.