SHIPPENSBURG — Ship Wreck Pub and Inn, 105 W. King St., closed its doors last weekend following the sale of the business to Arooga’s Grill House and Sports Bar.
Gary Huether and Mike Murphy, owners and co-founders of the Arooga’s chain, bought the business from Ship Wreck owners Mark Bricker and Buddy Hartman Jr. Huether and Murphy plan extensive renovations as soon as the liquor license transfer is complete, and they expect to re-open in time for March Madness.
Shippensburg will be the ninth location for the Arooga’s chain of restaurants, which started in 2008. There are three restaurants in Harrisburg, and others are located in Camp Hill, Hanover, Mechanicsburg, Hershey and York.
“We’re trying to grow out our circle, so the next logical location would be Carlisle/Shippensburg,” Huether said. “We looked around and talked to different people, and we were told that a lot of (local) people go to (Arooga’s in) Mechanicsburg or to Appleby’s. We thought what we could bring to the community would fit well.”
Huether said renovations will include a bar with high-top seating and 50 beers on draft, more than 100 televisions, surround sound and a separate room with low-top seating for family dining. The new Arooga’s will also be a certified green restaurant.
“We plan to continue the same traditions as the other Arooga’s,” he said. “When we’re done with renovations, you’ll walk in and know you’re at Arooga’s.”
The new owners take pride in their menu, which includes wings and an assortment of foods made in-house.
“We hand-bread our onion rings, we make our own salad dressings, soups and dips, we make soft pretzels to order — we do a lot of things you wouldn’t expect at a sports bar,” Huether said.
“We took food to the next level. ... We’re a neighborhood restaurant with casual dining and the bonus of being an awesome sports bar,” he said.
Bricker and Hartman have owned and operated Ship Wreck for the last three years.
“It was a huge financial success,” Bricker said. “It was more fulfilling than I could ever have expected. It was an absolute thrill, and the town of Shippensburg was a huge supporter. I can’t thank the town enough for making it such a success.”
The only downfall, he said, was the toll it took on his health.
“The restaurant business is tough; it’s demanding physically and mentally,” he said. “I couldn’t put into it what I thought I needed to put into it.”
Bricker said Arooga’s is “really looking forward to being a part of the Shippensburg community.”
Community leaders say they will welcome Arooga’s.
“We’re excited about it,” said Mickey Nye, president of the Shippensburg Area Development Corp. “Anything that will bring more energy to town, I’m all for it. It sounds like a very positive thing to me — very favorable for Shippensburg.”
Scott Brown, executive director of the Shippensburg Area Chamber of Commerce, agrees.
“We think it’s great,” he said. “It’s always a good thing when a regional chain comes to town. I think it’ll be a nice addition. We’re sorry Ship Wreck is leaving but happy another restaurant is coming.”
Curt Cramer, president of Downtown Organizations Investing Together, said Arooga’s will give people more choices when dining in downtown Shippensburg, and Rebecca Yearick, downtown program services manager with the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority, said another restaurant will benefit Shippensburg in many ways.
“There are a number of businesses that are expanding, and then you have these new entities, like Proctor and Gamble, that are adding hundreds of jobs, and others that are in the works,” Yearick said.
Huether said to look for updates on Arooga’s at Facebook.com/aroogasship.