There were lights on at the old Gold Miner hotel recently. Anyone curious enough to take a peek in one of the building's giant windows will see construction debris - corded up drills, levels, pieces of masonry laying around. After almost three years of sitting vacant, of languishing as Palmer's version of the giant tan elephant on the southern end of downtown, there are signs of life.
So I decided to get the skinny. And I started at Sicily's Pizza, the Anchorage-based chain that houses a buffet off Dimond and recently opened branches in Wasilla and Palmer's Key Bank plaza. My husband is a huge fan and came home carrying a pizza box and a rumor that Sicily's had bought the Gold Miner building and planned to open a buffet there.
Yay! I thought.
Not so, said Palmer Sicily's manager, John Selimi. "We're not going anywhere."
Bummer, I thought. As the mother of a teenage boy, I'm all for buffets. They're the cheapest places to eat out when you're the parent of a human food vaccuum.
But there is truth to the rumor that Sicily's owner, Lee Dubrova, has purchased the building. In my hunt to separate fact from rumor, I had to take a few steps back to review the building's recent history. According to the Alaska State Fire Marshal's office, the business was initially closed in Jan. of 2008. (Just getting this date required a FOIA request faxed, followed by the one-sentence email from Lloyd McDonnell in the Anchorage office.)
Employees of that office out here were a bit more forthcoming. Mahlon Greene remembered health and fire code violations shutting it down. Zaz wrote a story for ADN in April, 2009 that the hotel owed more than $100,000 in back taxes to the city.
All of these items contrived to relegate the once bustling Gold Miner to a shell. Until now.
John Bond said the fire marshal's office is working "closely" with the new owner to make sure the building is up to code prior to opening. What exactly those plans are is still under wraps. Three phone messages for Dubrova left with Sicily's reservation number - all with the same woman-with-a-Russian-accent - resulted in zero return calls. (One would think they wouldn't mind a little positive publicity but alas. Nyet.)
Three phone calls to Sandra Garley, community development director for the city, also resulted in nada. No idea what happened to the $100K bill. Evidently, bureaucrats/business owners have higher priorities than answering the questions of a humble resident/pizza patron.
Fortunately, we bloggers have all kinds of free time. :) If Sicily's ISN'T hosting a buffet there, fingers crossed they're not going for yet another bar. Karaoke or otherwise. So what would you like to see there? A three story flea market? A bunny boots outlet? Or another community meeting space that'll relieve the crowding at the Palmer depot? Speculate away!