By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
ST. JOSEPH – After a year’s worth of planning and anticipation, Tony Bertig and Jay Costas will finally get their wish.
As owners of Silver Beach Pizza, stationed in the Amtrak Railroad Station Depot at 410 Vine St., the two have been hard at work to build an addition to the existing structure with second-floor seating.
Barring any setbacks, Costas said the second floor will be open for business next Monday.
“It’s been a long process,” he said. “We have been doing some limited testing with tables. We’re ready to get going for sure.”
The second floor offers a seating capacity of more than 75, adding to the 210 seats below.
“It’s got a lot of nice touches by local artists,” Costas said of the decor. “People who have seen it have liked it.”
The elevated structure on the south end of Silver Beach Pizza includes schooner lights, a half-moon banquette, a rail-bed table, a square bar centered in the room, adjustable garage bay windows, a lounge area with a large-screen TV on the wall and several other tables.
The rail-bed table, added as a nod to the restaurant’s location and history, showcases a stretch of railroad tracks with wooden ties covered with a glass top.
Jill DeMars, a server who has worked at Silver Beach Pizza for six years, was bartending and serving during the restaurant’s test run and said it offers a great atmosphere. She anticipates the rail-bed table will be a popular spot for customers.
“I think it’s definitely a great addition to the restaurant,” DeMars said. “My favorite part are the schooner lights – the light bulbs are covered by schooners and they are custom metal. They give the room a nice lighting at night.”
The second floor is reserved for customers age 21 and older, for safety reasons, Costas said.
Reservations for new seating
The popular pizzeria also will introduce a reservation system exclusively to dine on the second level. People hoping to reserve an upstairs table can do so up to one week ahead of time at www.opentable.com, or through the site’s phone app.
“This is for our normal customers,” he said. “Our hope is that people who dine with us year round can make reservations with us and get into our restaurant during the busy summer.”
The owners of Silver Beach Pizza have leased a portion of the depot from the city since 2005.
St. Joseph city commissioners initially objected to construction of the second level, feeling that part of the view from the bluff was blocked. However, plans for the original concept were altered to eliminate most of the obstruction, and the addition received approval.
As for Costas, the addition is another way of thanking customers.
“Restaurants can fall out of favor, but from the very beginning it was never about making money,” Costas said. “We just wanted to create a special place. The depot is a special building – it’s a 100 years old. It sounds corny, but we are just happy we can exist there and create a cool place that people can go to.”
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on June 23, 2015)