By Steve Whipple
“Fireside says thank you for 68 beautiful years.”
That’s the message from Fireside Restaurant co-owner Tom Swerchesky. If all goes according to plan, the ScrubaDub car wash chain will build a new car wash on the Pelham Street site in coming months.
ScrubaDub gave Tom and his sister Pauline a hefty downpayment. The purchase agreement calls for the deal to be completed in July, subject to site approvals and absence of any possible deal-breaker issues with the land during the 4-month due-diligence period.
As of MethuenLife press time, the deal was moving forward.
“It’s been 50 years for me as of April 1,” says Tom, 71. “I’m tired, I’m burnt out. My son (Derek) is burnt out. He wants to spend time with his kids on the weekend. Business has never been better, but we’ve been talking about this for a couple years.”
In addition to Tom and Derek, the restaurant is also operated by Tom’s sister Pauline Lafontaine and her daughter Susie.
Tom says Dan O’Brien, owner of the car dealership next door, was mildly interested in purchasing the property a couple years ago but his offer was too low.
“It was a strange thing how it happened,” explains Tom. “We were about to put it on the market — as a restaurant. The next day I got a call from a Realtor asking if we’d sell it. I said, ‘You’d better hurry because it’s going on the market tomorrow.’ ”
While a couple gas stations and a cannabis dispensary also looked at the property, only ScrubaDub stepped up with an official intent to purchase.
According to Tom, the restaurant celebrated its 68th anniversary June 22.
His grandparents, Joe and Julia Swerchesky, were the first in the family to own the eatery and fried clam stand.
“My grandmother used to feed the truckers who were building I-93,” says Tom of the highway visible from his parking lot.
Prior to its existence as a restaurant, the building was Amy Hobbs’s tea room.
Five years ago, the Swercheskys spent a significant amount renovating the interior and exterior. Then COVID arrived and with it a drop in business and challenges hiring and keeping kitchen staff.
“We all sat down as a family and talked it over,” says Tom. “It’s really going to hurt to say goodbye to our customers and help. A lot of people have been coming in saying they want to eat here a few more times before we close.”
Tom is uncertain about the restaurant’s precise date of closing, but says if the sale goes through as planned it should be “two or three months.”
Tom’s retirement will be spent enjoying skiing, Vermont, golfing and his grandkids. Though not necessarily in that order.
ScrubaDub also has a car wash on North Broadway, Salem, N.H., that features an express exterior wash, two touch-free laser wash bays and free vacuums, towels and window cleaner.