By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Dudley McGinty, who grew up in Pittsburgh, recalled coming to Sea Isle City for family vacations in the 1950s when he was a child.
One of his family’s favorite places in Sea Isle those days was an Italian restaurant called Travascio’s, located at the corner of 43rd Street and Pleasure Avenue. Years later, Travascio’s made way for the Springfield Inn, a place that McGinty frequented for drinks when he became an adult.
Over the weekend, the 73-year-old McGinty, now a resident of Sea Isle, reminisced about Travascio’s and the Springfield Inn while sitting on his bike outside the building.
“I have a lot of good memories of this place, but it didn’t look like that then,” he said, shaking his head in disgust about the now-empty building’s run-down condition.
Asked if he would miss the Springfield Inn, he hesitated for a moment before replying, “The way it looks now? No.”
The Springfield Inn, once a local landmark that had been part of Sea Isle’s bar scene since the early 1970s, is expected to be demolished soon to make way for development of an upscale island-themed beach bar and outdoor restaurant called The Point.
Empty since it closed down in September 2019, the Springfield appears as though it is starting to disappear bit by bit – even before it is torn down. Large pieces of the exterior siding were removed recently, exposing windows that had long been covered up.
“I didn’t even know that those windows were there,” McGinty said.
The bar has remained closed while negotiations continued on a deal to sell the property and have it redeveloped. Alarmed by the building’s deteriorated condition, the city issued a “Notice of Unsafe Structure” in October that ordered the Springfield’s current owners to either repair or demolish the property.
GMH Restaurant Holdings III stepped in as the Springfield’s new buyer in October after a potential deal fell through involving another investment group. GMH has announced plans for The Point, modeled after the company’s outdoor bar and restaurant in Somers Point with the same name.
GMH has not yet set a date for demolition of the Springfield. The company is currently working on securing all permits before it tears down the building, spokeswoman Jacqueline Tammaro said in an email earlier this month.
Sea Isle’s construction office said Friday that no demolition permit has been issued yet by the city.
Plans call for construction to begin right after the Springfield is torn down. GMH has indicated that the outdoor bar and restaurant will open in time for the 2021 summer season. In a key step for the project, Sea Isle’s zoning board approved GMH’s development plans on Dec. 22.
The Springfield Inn has been on the market for $6.7 million. Its coveted beachfront location at 43rd Street and Pleasure Avenue makes it a strong candidate for redevelopment. It is the only beachfront business in Sea Isle that has a liquor license.
It is not immediately clear how much GMH is paying or whether it has completed the purchase yet. When GMH founder Gary Holloway first disclosed his plans to buy the property during remarks at a City Council meeting on Oct. 27, he said he had reached “an exclusive letter of intent” to acquire the Springfield Inn from the current owners.
The Bisciotti family has owned the Springfield Inn since it opened in 1972. Sisters Betsy Cooney, Terry Eidenberg and Joanne Bisciotti followed their parents, Joe and Liz Bisciotti, as the Springfield’s owners.