Josh McGroarty (top, left) and Dave Nolt stand in what remained in July of the interior of the former Mountainhouse. Much of the wood and many artifacts from the former establishment will be incorporated into the final design of the new facility scheduled to open this fall. The property at 400 Hatch Hill Road above New Albany has been a major construction site all summer, as employees of three local companies build Your Mountain House.
Story and photos by Rick Hiduk
(Also published in Living Bradford County Magazine)
Two business owners from New Albany have joined forces to build a new concert hall and steak house high above the town on Hatch Hill. Dave Nolt, of D.A. Nolt, Inc. of PA, and Josh McGroarty, of MAC Builders & Design have partnered professionally on other projects, but Your Mountain House represents a new venture for both of them. When completed in the fall, the facility will have the potential to significantly change local entertainment options.
“I always wanted to have a club or bar, but I didn’t want just a bar,” said Nolt, who bought the property at auction in February. In addition to being large enough upon completion to attract top name country and rock acts, the expanded open floor plan will offer an alternative to ticketed seating venues. “This will be more like Gilley’s in Texas. So you can dance in front of the band and have a cocktail,” Nolt suggested, “maybe even meet the band and get an autograph.”
Nolt is thinking big too. Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley and Thomas Rhett are at the top of his wish list for acts to book at the facility, as well as some rock acts, of which Dave’s wife, Sandra, is a bigger fan.
Up to 30 workers, including employees of Nolt, MAC and M.R. Dirt of Wysox have been on the site each day since the beginning of June, moving earth and meticulously dismantling the Mountain House bar and restaurant that was built in the 1980s. The current crew pales in comparison, however, to the 150 full- and part-time employees that will be needed to staff large concerts. Musical acts of that caliber require at least 30 people per show just to work security, Nolt explained.
“I want to create jobs,” he stated. “That’s why we’re calling it Your Mountain House.”
While the expanded venue will have a footprint about three times what it was, McGroarty and Nolt have found many willing partners to help preserve and repurpose wood and artifacts from the previous establishment.
“We’re trying to save what everybody remembers,” Nolt related. The iconic bar stools with tractor seats affixed to milk cans will be wired as decorative lights, he cited as an example. “Unfortunately, we won’t be able to save the art work by Bonnie Bell Hilfiger because it was painted on a wall.” Photos have been taken of the folk painting by the beloved local art teacher, however, that will somehow be incorporated into the final design.
McGroarty added that logs will be cut up into lap siding, and select timbers will become tables and partitions. “We want to maintain the feel of the Mountain House,” he stated.
What guests will find most striking is the sheer size and openness of the restaurant and concert area. A single-level first floor plan will provide handicap-accessibility. Fourteen-foot ceilings will stretch from front to back, broken only by elevated dining areas on both sides overlooking the floor and band. A mezzanine at the back will be reserved for bands as a lounge.
Anybody driving Hatch Hill Road this summer witnessed the incredible transformation of topography as 14-foot walls of shale were blasted and hauled away from the rear of the property, and a retaining wall was constructed at the right corner, all for the installation of a large, level parking lot that will surround the building. A portico will allow for patrons to be dropped off at the front entrance.
The exterior walls will be eight inches thick, constructed from insulated concrete forms for maximum energy efficiency. “You won’t have to wait for summer to get married any more,” Nolt remarked, noting that Your Mountain House will have all the amenities for large events. “We’re going to bring back the winter wedding. We can cater the whole thing.”
Nolt plans to begin operations as soon as the building is completed this autumn. He was hopeful at press time that the ongoing coronavirus situation will have abated. “I think by the time we’re done with this, the COVID will be over, and we’ll get moving,” he stated. Nolt looks forward to getting the restaurant open on the weekends and welcoming locals to enjoy the bar during the week. He is working with a booking agent to secure an inaugural act as soon as it is possible.
Your Mountain House will have a strong social media presence prior to and after opening. Followers on Facebook will be able to watch time-lapse photos of the entire construction project that were recorded from four angles.
Additional photos by Rick Hiduk
The back of the property had to be blasted and dug away for the new parking lot.
Josh McGroarty (foreground) and Dave Nolt review blue prints for Your Mountain House.
The blueprints for Your Mountain House provide a glimpse at a very different structure that will house a restaurant, bar and concert hall.