Neither Todd nor Wayne Meals expected Thursday or Friday to be as busy as their signature Carlisle restaurant.
Wayne said Scalles started to get busy around 4:30pm on Thursday and remained busier than usual at lunchtime on Friday.
“There was no end to it. It’s just calmed down now,” he said mid-afternoon on Friday.
The reason? Earlier in the day, Thursday, it spread on social media that Scalles had been sold to the owners of George’s Pizza. That evening, Scalles confirmed the news with a post of his own on Facebook.
Scalles, on York Road and East High Street in Carlisle, is expected to close on December 18 and reopen as “George’s @ Scalles” on January 4.
George’s Pizza will close its downtown location so the two restaurants with a combined 104 years of service can meet in one location, George’s owner Ernie Merisotis said. However, the timeline for the shutdown is uncertain as hundreds of questions are being worked out.
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Merisotis said this is the right move for George’s as it looks set to expand its business.
“Scalles has great food and George’s has great food and you add to the dining room they have that we don’t,” Merisotis said.
Todd said the liquor license for the restaurant will be sold separately from the restaurant and the Meals family will retain ownership of the building under a lease with an option to buy.
But locals with a hankering for a blockbuster, sub or one of Scalles’ signature soups can’t live without it. The plan is to keep the Scalles menu and integrate George’s pizza, calzones, stromboli and more.
“You can still get the same things — except alcohol — that are on the Scalles menu,” Merisotis said.
Todd said he would be staying “to make sure the Scalles food is made right,” and Wayne, 82, plans to stay as well.
“It will be important to keep the same to keep the company strong,” Wayne said. “If you change that a lot, you risk losing a lot of the clientele.”
Wayne said that over time the new owners can adjust the menu based on what’s being sold, and as a restaurant owner, he knows all about evolving menus.
When Harrisburg Radio Lab left its location on the Harrisburg Pike across from the Army War College, Wayne rented the space to start a restaurant adjacent to his wife’s beauty salon. That was in 1980.
Wayne said the restaurant’s name came from the original idea of letting people build their own subs. The subs would be placed on a scale and the customer would pay based on that weight. Wayne visited a sub shop in New York based on the same premise, but found there were issues with people building subs that ended up being too heavy and more expensive. That store had abandoned the plan and Wayne did the same.
“We steered clear of that and just went with subs and salads and soup,” he said.
The menu has expanded over the years. A customer would make a suggestion that sounded good or a salesperson would name a new item and Wayne would consider it and sometimes add it to the menu.
In 1983 Wayne bought the old warehouse that now houses the restaurant. Built between 1867-1870 by a Carlisle Iron Works partner, the building was used for grain storage until 1946 when JP Bixler & Sons bought it and used it for storage. In 1973 the building was renovated and converted into a store for wood-burning stoves.
For seven years, other businesses, including a sportswear store, a teen nightclub and an office supply store, operated out of the location. In 1990, the Meals family opened Restaurant Scalles in the warehouse. Wayne said the family operated both the York Road and Harrisburg Pike locations until 1995, when the original store closed.
The warehouse restaurant pays tribute to the history of the venue with its decor using old maps integrated into the table tops.
World War II veteran George Merisotis moved from Derry, New Hampshire to Carlisle in 1958, at the urging of Ernest Reisinger, a Carlisle businessman and former naval friend.
George bought the Kruger Dairy store in a deal that closed with a handshake. He lived in a small room at the back of the store whose only possessions were a crib, lamp, and Bible.
The store’s interior has changed over the years, from Bible verses on tiled walls and George’s “office” in a back cubicle to the hundreds of donated photographs of Carlisle residents from several decades that now fill the walls.
Merisotis said those photos won’t be thrown away, but they can be kept for a while while he decides what to do with them.
For now, though, the focus is on creating the best of both worlds by bringing two legendary Carlisle companies together.
Email Tammie at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.