Locker Room Stays In Its Hometown

New owners of Hometown Locker Room, Shelby and Brad Wiechart (on the right) pose for a picture with previous business owners of Cool's Locker Room Mike and Tammy Cool. After Cool's Locker Room closed last month, the Wiechart's took over the space and kept the iconic pizzeria going under a different name.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Managing Editor

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.

But some of those can lead to a tasty destination.

Never owning a restaurant before, Shelby and Brad Wiechart now find themselves the unexpected owners of the former Cool’s Locker Room at 117 S. Main St., a business that was on the verge of closing its doors for good.

But that unexpected twist and turn changed things as the Wiecharts are proud owners of Hometown Locker Room Pizza & Subs.

“It was just an ironic situation,” Shelby said. “I was heading to work when someone said ‘hey, did you know the Locker Room is for sale. So we talked that night.”

Cool’s Locker Room owner Mike Cool said his business had been up for sale for six months before he closed it after running it with his wife Tammy, for more than 11 years when they took it over Jan. 1, 2008.

“I kept lowering the price on it and no one wanted it,” he said. “I was going to be 70 in January and I have a bad back and I said, ‘we are getting out of here.’ My doctor has been telling me not to stand on my feet, but you have no choice in this kind of business. So I was planning on selling the equipment, locking the doors and that’s all there is to it.”

With all intentions of packing up, Cool brought in a couple of people to sell equipment to and the former owner sold the fridge, a cooler, tables and his ice machine. But as days began to dwindle down to its final day, Cool said he was taking orders one morning when Brad approached him about taking over the iconic pizzeria.

Cool and Wiechart met July 17 and two days later, the business closed its doors, but the two continued to talk and eventually shook hands on a deal July 24.

“It wasn’t something we had ever talked about doing,” Shelby said. “This was something random, out of the blue and it felt like it was supposed to happen.”

The Wiecharts said once they owned the business, they gutted it out, re-arranged the kitchen, added new paint, new ceiling tile and put in a new floor. The business also has new chairs, a new counter, new or updated equipment and a wall that divided the kitchen and the dinning area was taken out.

“So we could actually be a part of the people who are here eating,” Brad explained. “We just wanted to freshen everything up.”

“Mike and Tammy have been great to work with,” Shelby added. “They have helped us through everything and they are still here helping us.”

The Wiecharts said they had a soft opening Wednesday and the place was packed — almost as if it never left, but the plan is to hold a grand opening Sept. 20 — which coincidentally is the St. Marys football team’s home opener against Van Wert.

“The support from the community, friends and family has been overwhelming,” Shelby said. “Last night [Thursday] the place was full because everyone was here eating.”

“I was working, but when I turned around, I couldn’t believe that all the booths were full,” Cool added.

Shelby said the menu has been cut back so they could get their feet wet in the business, but everything will remain the same, such as selling pizzas, subs, salads, wings and all with the same ingredients.

Shelby said the idea to have the business’ name slightly changed stemmed from the fact that Cool’s Locker Room has been St. Marys’ hometown pizzeria for more than a decade and with them taking it over, they felt it was still a hometown restaurant.

“It didn’t necessarily need to be anchored toward the Roughriders — such as the school — but something that everyone in town can like,” Shelby said. “We feel like this is our hometown because our kids grew up here.”

While it has been a crash course of sorts for the Wiecharts, the experience has been a little more subtle for Shelby based on her experience working at LaGrande Pizza when it was in Coldwater.

“But being away from it for so long, man, you forget how crazy and busy it can get,” she said.

Lunch hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Dinner hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Hometown Locker Room will continue to deliver, up until the final 30 minutes that it is open for that day. 

The business will be closed for Labor Day weekend because the Wiecharts will be taking a family vacation that was planned well before they took on the Locker Room.

Hometown Locker Room’s menu can be found on their website, HometownLockerRoom.com. Those interested in working for the Wiecharts can reach out to Shelby on Facebook.

Although the Wiecharts are learning on the fly in a new business, they are not the only owners who learned on the fly.

The Cools have been there too.

Cool said he and his wife were raised in the factory business. For 13 years, they worked in a factory in North Carolina before it sold out and moved to Mexico — a common occurrence 15 years ago. After working in factories for roughly a combined 45 years, the Cools made a nice living before getting laid off and after a few jobs, the Cools moved back to the area. 

“We never worked in restaurants, we have always been factory babies,” Cool said. “Tammy’s mother worked here for Bill — Bill Taylor is the one who owned this. Then we talked to Bill and the next thing you know, we are in the pizza business.”

“And now they are experts,” Shelby joked.

And maybe the Wiecharts will be too. They are already the town’s home slice.

To read the full story, see Saturday's print edition of The Evening Leader.

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