John Lanehart is hoping to attract paying customers, but that might not be clear from the vagabond-inspired décor he's planning for the new Rail Trail Café along the York County Heritage Rail Trail.
"It's a coffee-shop feel with a hobo theme, you know, with jumping trains," he described. "Gypsies, hobos ... carnies."
The New Freedom resident, better known by his performer name "Johnny Calamari," plans to open the Rail Trail Café in the York County-owned train station at 14 S. Front St. in the borough.
The former tenant, New Freedom Railway Café, was closed much of the 2012 trail season and went out of business, said Mike Fobes, manager of natural resources for the York County Department of Parks & Recreation.
"It'll be nice to be able to offer something to the park visitors," Fobes said, adding that the area is popular for tired bikers and runners looking to take a break along the trail.
Customers: Lanehart said he'll cater to the trail and train-enthusiast crowds, but he'll rely on a solid customer base of locals from town to keep the café open year-round.
In addition to a full coffee and espresso bar, the café will offer light breakfasts and lunches such as danishes and other pastries, soups, salads, wraps and sandwiches, Lanehart said.
The 37-year-old bass player and investor said he has worked in the food industry off and on since he was 14 years old, but he recently resigned as a project manager for a
waterproofing company so the café could be his fulltime job. He's likely to hire a couple of other employees, but he'll serve as manager, he said.
Lanehart said the café will open no later than Oct. 1, though he's shooting for Saturday.
Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday the rest of the year, he said.
York County Commissioners at a recent meeting approved a lease agreement with Lanehart. Under the contract, Lanehart will pay the York County Parks Department $663.80 per month to lease the space.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.