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Uncle Primo’s owner ‘thrilled’ about pending sale, reopening

| September 15, 2023
Uncle Primo's owner Deb DeRing-Heifner and general manager Lori Beitzel are pictured in July after announcing the closing of the restaurant. That has turned out to be temporary as potential new owners want to keep the restaurant going as is.

NEW PHILADELPHIA – The owner of Uncle Primo’s says she is excited about handing over the iconic New Philadelphia eatery to the two Jims.

Deb DeRing-Heifner says local restauranteurs Jim Fragasse and Jim Markino have agreed to buy the 33-year-old establishment popular for its steaks, seafood, Italian cuisine, and original recipes.

“We’re excited. The Jims are excited… I love the direction they’re going. They want to keep Uncle Primo’s Uncle Primo’s.”

DeRing-Heifner says it was important to her that the new owners honor her husband, Bob Heifner, who founded the restaurant and came up with the recipes and concepts.

“[Jim Fragasse] wants to keep Bob going, which warms my heart to no end. We talked about all the memorabilia that I have all over the place to honor him … and he said, ‘I want it all.’ He said, ‘I don’t want to change any of this,’ and I’m just thrilled. Absolutely thrilled.”

Bob died in 2019, the first of several hardships that eventually exhausted DeRing-Heifner and General Manager Lori Beitzel. They announced the restaurant’s closing in July.

DeRing-Heifner says she and Beitzel will reopen the restaurant Thursdays through Saturdays starting in October to train staff and get the community reacquainted. She will step away from the day-to-day operations when the new owners take over.

“The reason I am able to reopen is because [Fragasse] has offered me staff, which just shows how excited he is, too. My servers are coming back. My bartender is coming back. We’re just really excited.”

Fragasse and Markino own and/or operate several other area establishments, including Cibo’s in Waynesburg and Firehouse Grill in Malvern.

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