By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
The Daily Star
---- — A new restaurant is coming to Oneonta, and it’s preparing to fill some iconic shoes.
Mama Nina’s Pizza, an Oneonta institution formerly located on 299 Main St., has been closed since June. A pair of new owners is now leasing the space, however, and plans to open a restaurant there the week of Labor Day.
The new owners are David Delker and Karen Maerz-Beers, and their restaurant will be called Nina’s.
Said Delker, “What we want to do is take what Mama Nina’s was originally and we want to build on that to make it better.”
Delker said that Nina’s will be offering traditional Italian food, in addition to steaks, burgers, seafood and gluten-free and vegetarian options. Making sure that this food is priced for families is also a priority that Delker highlighted.
“We want this to be a memorable and affordable experience for everybody,” said Delker. “We’re going to bring some world-class food into this area and make it affordable.”
Delker is a former manager at NBT Bank, and has experience managing a number of small businesses. Maerz-Beers is a massage therapist with her own practice.
“We both have experience running small businesses,” said Delker.
Delker acknowledged that he and Maerz-Beers don’t have experience in the food and beverage industry, but said they’ve hired a staff that does. They are also being advised by Maerz-Beers’ brother, Paul Maerz, the co-owner of the Roundhouse Pub & Grill at the Oneonta Country Club.
Speaking about a conversation he had with Oneonta Mayor Dick Miller, Maerz said, “The mayor calls Mama Nina’s the gateway to downtown Oneonta.”
Maerz also talked about the importance of the space to the community.
“The people of Oneonta deserve to have this place run ... the way they’d expect.”
Delker and Maerz-Beers took possession of the space in August, and have been renovating it over the course of the month.
“We’ve opened it up, it’s a lot brighter,” said Delker. “People can see right into the kitchen when they walk ... (in) the door.”
Delker also said that they’d added a new bar and repainted the place, and that they were prepared to make more improvements after Nina’s opens, should the need arise.
Delker has left his job at NBT and Maerz-Beers is in the process of closing her massage practice, in order to run Nina’s.
Said Delker, “We’re doing this full time, we’re all in.”
Delker and Maerz-Beers said they plan to open Nina’s the week of Labor Day, but were unable to give an exact date when asked Tuesday.
Speaking about their preparations for opening, Delker said, “When we open this place, we don’t want to keep taking two steps backward.”
He said he expects the restaurant to employ 10 full-time employees.
Delker also expressed optimism about the venture.
“We believe that this place has a lot of promise and a lot of upside,” said Delker. “We believe in this economy and this county and certainly this city.”