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Business Beat

August 8, 2012

Family adds 1950s-style diner to businesses in West End

An Oneonta family has expanded its business ventures to offer diner-style eating in the West End.

Soda Jerks at Action Lube, 458 Chestnut St., opened in early July and will have a grand opening from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16. The eatery, styled in 1950s-era décor, is next door to Action Lube garage, which has been run by Ernest "Butch" and Linda Burgher since 1996.

Opening a diner has been a decades-long dream, Linda Burgher said Tuesday, and Soda Jerks has taken about three years to develop and build, including time to secure Oneonta town and state Health Department approvals.

The building has the two businesses and three apartments where the Burghers and relatives live, Heather Mann, the couple's daughter, said, and the residential and entrepreneurial endeavors are a three-generation effort.

Mann said she is the "chief cook and bottle washer," while her mother manages the books for both business. Her father; her biological brother, Dustin Burgher; and Matt Maynard, her "bonus" brother who long has been part of the family, work as certified mechanics in the garage, which offers oil changes and repairs for domestic and foreign cars, she said.

Mann said her husband, Tim Mann, works at Brooks' House of Bar-B-Q, but their sons, Christion, 12½, and Owen, 11, help out with chores at Soda Jerks.

The restaurant can seat 40 customers in its booth, table and counter seating, said Mann, who also bakes goods for the business and customer orders. Artwork features pictures of Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Lucille Ball and others. The floor is covered with black and white tiles, and the seat coverings are bright blue.

The menu offers pancakes and egg options, with the most-expensive "full service breakfast" costing $7. A Burgher's Burger at $7 is the highest-priced lunch fare on the menu, which offers a variety of sandwiches, soup, chili and salads.

The restaurant fountain service features custom-made sodas and ice-cream treats, Linda Burgher said. The emphasis is on food and drinks made from scratch, she said.

Chris Walsh is the cook for Soda Jerks, which also employs one full-time and four part-time waitresses, Mann said.

Outside, the restaurant is a work in progress, said Linda Burgher, whose office space for the garage is accessible through the restaurant. Plans are to paint the building exterior, install a sign and add landscaping. The front portion of the restaurant previously was office space and a customer waiting area, she said, and many years ago, the building was the East End Sales and Service Lincoln/Mercury car dealership.

Soda Jerks is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and is closed Sundays. Parking is behind the building. The telephone number is 267-4792.

Financial services office opens in Cooperstown

Jason Tabor has joined the upstate business center of the Principal Financial Group Inc. at a newly opened office in Suite 33 at 21 Railroad Ave. in Cooperstown, a media release said.

The office opened July 2, Tabor said Tuesday night. After graduating from Cooperstown Central School in 1990, he studied at Hartwick College in Oneonta, graduating in 1994. Tabor said he earned a master's degree in mathematics from Syracuse University.

Tabor, who has more than nine years in the financial services and insurance industry, will be a senior financial representative and adviser. The local office will provide financial planning and retirement products and services and information on tax-saving strategies, estate-planning options and insurance protection plans, the release said. For more information, call 282-4161.

Founded in 1879, the Principal Financial Group has $320.8 billion in assets under management and more than 17 million customers worldwide, the release said. The group is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol PFG.

To suggest a business story, or announce a new business or changes to an existing one, email details to drichardson@thedailystar.com or call Denise Richardson at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213.

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