PAUPACK TWP. - The Lakeville Grille at Shuman’s Point is slated to open its doors in coming months. Based in what is presently known as Crazy Fingers in Lakeville, the new restaurant is a reinvention of the eatery owner and visionary, Tom Robertazza said.

Having owned the restaurant for 23 years, Robertazza said change is necessary because his current business model is no longer working and the eatery has run its course. Saturday, March 2 was the last day of Crazy Fingers. The many years, however, were great and he is very proud of that. The changes, he said he believes, will surprise many, with much of what was, will be no more.

Healthier menu options

While some things on the menu will remain, other favorites like wings will be gone. Robertazza said he is doing away from fried food and trying for healthier options that will include but aren’t limited to: salads, steaks and seafood. To appeal to the younger customers there will be more craft beers as well. The new menu isn’t set yet, since he plans on fusing original foods with new choices.

Although he’s not keen on calling the new restaurant “generic,” Robertazza said that is the best way to describe his new endeavor. He said it can also be described as “industrial” because the building and decor will blow peoples’ minds since the changes will be so extensive. Robertazza has decided to make such extreme changes because he is starting “fresh” and wants people to know Crazy Fingers is a thing of the past. Acknowledging that was initially upsetting he said, but now he is the “Lakeville Grille guy.”

A lifelong Grateful Dead fan, Robertazza opened the restaurant with friends and now he is the sole owner. Robertazza has found that many people today are not aware that “Crazy Fingers” is the name of a song and many others don’t know who Jerry Garcia was. Robertazza said he wanted to open a restaurant because he has always considered himself a “foodie” and he wanted to be his own boss. The building was actually a nightclub before, with walls and floors covered in carpet. Removing the carpet has been a task Robertazza has been working on for the last 20 years, because the building is that large.

A challenge

A challenge Robertazza has encountered most recently is that customers want to explore the new places, which has had a real effect on business, especially since the region only thrives for 10-weeks out of the year. Because of the size of the building, he questioned what could be added. He considered a gift shop or a coffee house, but the labor market is hard and he didn’t feel there was a demand for that. So, future changes are still in-store.

Even if Crazy Fingers were to remain, Robertazza said he doesn’t believe it could meet its peak in 2007 because of his present system. He understands why people try the new places, but he questions what’ll happen once the next new eatery opens.

When the doors first opened, Robertazza said there was no vision because he just wanted a restaurant and to raise a family in the region. Instead, Crazy Fingers has been a “constant evolution” as decor has changed with time and now, the business will continue to develop as the Lakeville Grille.

Despite being the owner, Robertazza said he will do whatever job needs to be done, whether cooking or cleaning, because he feels it is key to being a good boss and never asking staff to do anything he wouldn’t do.

Emotional time

Robertazza expects some people will be upset that he’ll no longer serve wings, but because three fryers are needed to make them, he said his plans don’t meld with the required space. Instead, the grill will offer more steaks, burgers and such foods. While he’s not sure what will be a staple food, he does expect the roma chicken sandwich to remain a favorite.

Coming to this point, Robertazza said has been “emotional” because he has lived and breathed Crazy Fingers for so long, but the reality is that the change “needs to happen.” He has actually pondered this for three years.

The biggest difference in the restaurant, Robertazza said will be the reduction of 100 seats to 60 and an 18-seat bar to 11-seats. The reason for such a large decrease is the struggle to find good labor, so he has to be “more efficient.” Everything on the present walls to the booths will be gone. Robertazza said it would be a “sin” to remove the booths because of how comfortable they are.

Robertazza said the public’s response has been “humbling” because he believes he is “just a guy who cooks food” and there are other places they could go to eat. Instead, since the news spread, he has learned how many memories were made and were a part of Crazy Fingers’s history.

Positive experience

Just as he did with Crazy Fingers, Robertazza said he will do everything in his power to make customers’ experience at the Lakeville Grille positive. He acknowledged that may not happen every time, but he will do his best to make it happen.

Once the doors open, Robertazza said he’ll listen to what people have to say and consider them because just like Crazy Fingers, the Lakeville Grille will evolve. Because the “world is changing,” he has to “change with it” and so, the Lakeville Grille will have a better social media presence and an improved website.

Robertazza concluded that people can expect the same quality food with the same good service, reasonable prices and a friendly environment, which is what he has always tried for and will continue having.

The business is very near the Shuman Point Hiking Trail on Lake Wallenpaupack.