History - The Imperial Restaurant
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About

 

The Imperial Restaurant, located at 26 East Chestnut Street in Lancaster, is a part of the Holiday Inn Lancaster. Upon completion of renovations, the new Holiday Inn will include 216 rooms, 19,000 square feet of ballrooms and meeting space, an indoor pool, fitness and restaurant. The entire project is owned by a partnership led by John Meeder and Sam Wilsker, both of Lancaster.

 

Meeder and Wilsker set out to create a restaurant that would serve both the local community, business people and travelers visiting the hotel. The best way to accomplish that was to locate the restaurant on the prime corner of Queen and Chestnut Streets. At the onset, with the help of Keith Good from CGA Architects, a facility was designed that would connect the restaurant to the hotel lobby, while retaining and capitalizing on the premier frontage. Being developed within the context of a full-service Holiday Inn and needing to satisfy the requirements of Holiday Inn’s parent company IHG, Meeder and Wilsker insisted on retaining a locally branded and inspired look and feel throughout the 6,000 square foot restaurant.  With the conceptual and architectural design worked out with CGA, Meeder and Wilsker engaged Noelle Turco of Red House Design Co. to coordinate the theming and design of the restaurant.

 

Meeder and Wilsker gave free reign to Turco and charged her to create an environment and theme for the restaurant that would distinguish it to be a visually exciting experience for everyone that walks through the doors – both locals and visitors alike. Turco did a deep dive into the history of the building and the block and worked to fuse the past with art in a way that connects the two in a fun way, yet still honoring the legacy and heritage of the neighborhood. The result is an experience in the restaurant where the environment and art guides one on a tour of history while marveling at the creativity and art throughout the space.

 

As a foundation, we have taken this unique design and have coupled it with friendly, yet professional service and high-quality cuisine.

 

Welcome to The Imperial. We hope you enjoy your time with us.

History

 

In the 1960s, “Urban Renewal” claimed many dozens of historic buildings on the 100 block of East King Street. Under the mis-guided notion that cities needed drastic change to remain relevant during the era of suburbanization, Lancaster Square was to built to mimic a “mall-like” environment to compete with a newly built Park City Mall. It failed miserably and the block floundered for over 40 years.

 

When it became time to select a name for the new restaurant, many, many names and ideas were explored. Turco was brainstorming with her friend, Scott Chretian, who suggested The Imperial because of its historic significance. The Imperial Hotel stood on this site up until the 1912 and received many important guests at this location from the mid 1800s until it was razed. Among such distinguished guests were Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. Additionally, The Imperial Bar stood directly across the street and, as rumor has it, was the last hold-out to give in to “Urban Renewal” that decimated the block and left a hole in our City for decades. Ultimately, it, too, was torn down.

 

As a way to honor the past and strengthen our ties to the deep history of this community, The Imperial quickly demonstrated itself as the most fitting of names for our restaurant.

 

As you will see, the restaurant has many historic photos from the archives of LancasterHistory.org. Buildings from yester-year that lost the battle with the wrecking ball. With permission, Noelle Turco has artistically painted them to bring them back to life. You can also see exactly where the different building and businesses were located on the full-size Sanborn Maps from 1912 that hang on the walls between the hotel lobby and the Restaurant.