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Kenai Catering brings changes to former Merit Inn

Posted: April 23, 2014 - 6:30pm
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  Rex Bircham, of Triangle Recycling, uses an excavator to tear down a portion of the Merit Inn Tuesday April 22, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska. The former hotel was operated as the Family Hope Center, a transitional housing facility, until June 2013 when the organization could no longer afford the facility.
Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion Rex Bircham, of Triangle Recycling, uses an excavator to tear down a portion of the Merit Inn Tuesday April 22, 2014 in Kenai, Alaska. The former hotel was operated as the Family Hope Center, a transitional housing facility, until June 2013 when the organization could no longer afford the facility.

Dust permeated the air as an excavator crunched down on a building sectioned off by yellow “Do Not Enter” tape on Tuesday in Kenai.

Kenai Catering is revamping its recently acquired property on South Willow Street both with the renovating the interior of the former Merit Inn and the tearing down of the “bunkhouse” building.

“(The bunkhouse) needed to go,” said Bobbi England, who owns Kenai Catering along with her husband Steve England. “It was well past its expiration date. We really didn’t see it as safe anymore.”

They purchased the property in December 2013 and have been working on the interior since after the holiday rush including replacing the roofs and floors.

“When it went up for sale, I said, ‘let’s make a go of it,’” said Steve England.

Steve England said he expects to complete the interior work in the next three to four weeks.

“It’s going to be amazing,” Bobbi England said.

While Steve England said the couple is unsure of what they will be using some of the space for, they have renovated their banquet room in the building that can seat up to 110 people.

Where the about 45-year-old bunkhouse was, Steven England said they plan to landscape the area.

Triangle Recycling, owned by Robert Peterkin, began teardown of the building Tuesday afternoon and was clearing away debris on Wednesday.

Before teardown, he said crews checked the building for any hazards like asbestos and cleared out furniture and fixtures and recyclable metals and wires. While the mattresses were disposed of, he said the company was able to save a few nightstands and chairs, some of which will be donated.

Steve England said since beginning Kenai Catering five years ago, the couple has seen substantial business growth.

“People like flavor and that’s basically what we do and as a result of that, our business has expanded,” Bobbi England said.

She expects with the projects the company is working on, it will continue to grow.

“We’re excited about the future of Kenai,” Steve England said.

The Merit Inn most recently a transitional living shelter, the Family Hope Center, run by Love INC. The organization had to close the shelter at the end of June last year due to financial reasons.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com

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