Caribbean cuisine, dollar store headed to downtown Wilkes-Barre

i Mar 30th 2017

By Bill Wellock, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice

WILKES-BARRE — Two new businesses are coming to downtown Wilkes-Barre.

A Caribbean restaurant and a dollar store are planned for the first block of South Main Street off Public Square.

A city’s downtown is always changing, said Larry Newman, executive director of the Diamond City Partnership.

“A downtown’s never finished. It’s always going to be an evolving place,” he said. “There are always going to be changes and always going to be businesses departing and new businesses coming in and new activities coming in and other things changing over time. The question really is whether the sum of the parts adds up to being a place that is economically vibrant and a point of pride for the region.”

There are now 45 more occupied storefronts in the downtown than there were in 2005, he said.

 Hartman Jerk Center

When a sushi restaurant closed its door downtown, Carleen and Garfield Hartman decided to rent the spot and realize their dream of opening a Caribbean restaurant. Foot traffic and downtown events made the spot at 72 S. Main St. an ideal location, Carleen Hartman said.

They plan to hold a grand opening for Hartman Jerk Center on April 8.

Carleen is from Jamaica, and Garfield is from Guyana. Their sit-down restaurant will offer cuisines from their Caribbean nations, such as chicken or pork with jerk spice mixture, a flatbread called roti, ackee and saltfish, pepperpot, beef patties and other traditional food.

“Real, authentic, your grandmother cooking on Sunday,” Carleen Hartman said, describing her goals for the menu.

The Hartmans’ offerings will join other ethnic restaurants downtown, including Le Manhattan Bistro French restaurant, Cafe Toscana Italian restaurant, El Zocalo Mexican restaurant, Katana Japanese restaurant, Letts Eat Flavors of India and Thai Thai.

 Dollar Tree

Closer to Public Square, a Dollar Tree store is opening in a 10,000-square foot space along South Main Street.

Odin Properties of Philadelphia owns the space and plans to open the store sometime this summer.

In June 2016, Odin Properties bought a 1.2-acre parcel of property on Public Square and South Main Street for

$4 million. The purchase included the site of the closed Susquehanna Alehouse that formerly housed the Hardware Bar, Bourbon Street Saloon and Reflex Night Club at 12 S. Main St. The purchase also included spaces housing Dunkin’ Donuts, Rodano’s and Franklin’s, and the Wilkes-Barre Center office building.

The company has office space available and a 2,000-square foot space next to the site planned for the Dollar Tree.

“I think it’s a terrific piece of real estate. We love being right on the square,” said Philip Balderston, the CEO of Odin Properties.

The company settled on Dollar Tree as a tenant after talking to different retailers. Dollar Tree is a national chain of discount variety stores. In 2016, the company opened 584 new stores.