Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Difficulty at Campus Square at Lehigh

Five years ago, then-Lehigh University President Gregory Farrington declared he was bringing down the wall around the campus and building a $25 million bridge into the community.

Campus Square would not only include student dorms, but four businesses that would give students and residents a place to build a town-gown relationship that to that point had been strained.

Today, two of those businesses have failed, leaving university officials with the realization that you can take the campus to the residents but you can't make them drink coffee.

Pastaficio Italian restaurant closed March 2 and Jazzman's coffee shop will close May 20, when students leave for the summer, a company spokeswoman confirmed. Johnny's Bagels & Deli will replace Pastaficio by month's end, and Lehigh officials say Jazzman's won't be vacant long.

John Zohir has spent seven years building a customer base for his Main Street shop. It has become so popular that at times, particularly on weekends, the line out the door is filled with Lehigh students who traveled more than a mile off campus to get there.

Zohir said he'll use Pastaficio's equipment until the end of May. Then he'll close over summer break to remodel the space into a restaurant that will include a large fish tank, fireplace, flat-screen television, cappuccino bar and an Internet cafe he hopes will appeal to students and residents.

''I have an emotional attachment to this project,'' Zohir said. ''I feel very confident about this location.''

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