Challenges abound as former Catawba River pump house transformed into fine dining restaurant
Lake Wylie neighbors Elliott Close and Colby Mosier knew there would be challenges in turning an industrial pump house on the Catawba River into a fine dining, tablecloth restaurant. The plant once pumped about five million gallons of water daily from the river to the Celanese textile and chemical plant. The plant was designed to withstand a raging river with 20-inch-thick concrete walls and pumps sunk deep into the river’s banks. When Close and Mosier inspected the building, it had stood vacant for years. Celanese ceased production in 2005 after 57 years of operations. The pump house’s broken windows, visible to motorists on the U.S. 21 bridge, were a signal of just how much industrial decay the region had suffered. The inspection revealed a sound building, though. One engineer told the men, “You can’t put enough weight on this building to hurt it.”
Close and Mosier developed an ambitious plant to double the space of the building, using its massive foundation and walls to support steel beams. The beams allowed them to suspend or cantilever second, third and fourth floors. They also turned the roof into a fifth floor with unobstructed views of the Catawba River. Close, Mosier and partner/restauranteur Jeff Conway had hoped to open in December. They had fully booked the restaurant last month, but construction did not keep pace with their expectations.
The new projected opening date is around Valentine’s Day – a date that also may be too ambitious. The delays are because Close and Mosier won’t scrimp; they want it to be as perfect as possible. The opening date can’t come soon enough, Mosier said. They are already getting about 20 calls a week about when they will open. Mosier and Close are hoping the iconic nature of the building, Conway’s reputation and the location will draw patrons from the region, especially Charlotte.