Poncho’s Wreck, along with a nearby residence once used as a church parsonage, was put on the auction block as part of a court-ordered settlement to pay back taxes and a mortgage.
Although Poncho’s Wreck may have looked a little worn on the outside, the interior of the building was left in surprisingly good condition, according to auctioneer Eric Nathan. Despite sitting unused for several years and weathering flooding during Tropical Storm Irene, no significant damage was evident on the main and upper floors. “It looked like the day they walked out of there in 2009,” he said. “The tables were even set and ready for the next meal service.”
Auction day attracted a handful of bidders, but witnesses say it was Dennis Stanek Jr. who was the winning bidder on the Poncho’s building. Stanek battled Wilmington resident Bob Grinold for the building, finally taking it at $120,000, according to one witness.
Stanek didn’t return calls for comment, but according to his biographical information posted at Stanek Blanchard Investment Group/RBC Wealth Management, Stanek resides in Farmington, CT, and “has an avid interest in community redevelopment and has been instrumental in the completion of several projects.”
Wilmington Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk says the sale of the former restaurant bodes well for the village, and for South Main Street in particular.
“It’s really encouraging, and (Stanek) seems like he has a lot of energy,” she said. “I don’t think he knows what the plans for the building will be yet, but (Poncho’s) has been a real eyesore on South Main Street, so it’s good to see someone with the energy to create something.”
The old parsonage sold for substantially less, around $45,000, in competitive bidding. Susan Lawrence, owner of the Anchor Seafood Restaurant located next door to Poncho’s, was the successful bidder. She said she has had her eye on the property for some time, and was happy to get it. “We’d like to use it to expand our catering business,” Lawrence said. “So it will have the catering kitchen, and room for storage of all the equipment.”
Although the building is in rough shape, Lawrence plans to renovate the former residence as a commercial property. “The condition of the building is poor, but we’ve assessed it with a couple of different folks who feel that it’s salvageable. It’s got good bones, but it needs a complete renovation. It’s a historical building, and it’s cute, I’d like to save it if we can.”
In addition to running the Anchor, Lawrence has also been catering using the same kitchen. “It can get a little crowded,” she says. “But there’s a good market for (catering) in the area, and I suspect it will grow.”
Lawrence says she hasn’t officially picked a name for the expanded catering business, but “Anchors Aweigh” is one of the possibilities she likes. Renovations on the parsonage may begin as soon as this spring.
Havreluk says she thinks the activity on South Main Street, as well as activity on other empty buildings in the village is thanks, at least in part, to Jim Barnes’ development at the Hermitage and Haystack. “People see the investment he’s putting in, and they know that Wilmington has to succeed.”