Richard Vanderwier and Brad Martins outside their recently acquired building on Highway 20, in Fonthill. DON RICKERS

Renovated building will see shops and apartments

Ho Ho’s, the Chinese take-out restaurant on Highway 20 near Pelham Street and Fonthill fixture for decades, has permanently shut down. A handwritten sign on a window reads, “We are closed. Thank you to all of our customers. Stay safe. Ho Ho Chinese Food.”

Locals have noticed some preliminary repairs to the exterior façade of the building, and are curious about the transformation.

The Voice turned to two reliable sources, both veterans of the Pelham scene, Vilma Moretti and Dolly Smith, to get the skinny.

The new owners of the building are young entrepreneurs Richard and Chelsea Vanderwier, of Smithville, and their friends Brad and Laura Martins, from Lincoln. Richard is an industrial arts teacher in Hamilton, and Chelsea a nurse, who is planning to establish an aesthetics shop in one of the street-level units, providing aesthetic and skincare services, including Botox injections. Brad earns his living in high-rise construction in Toronto, while Laura plans to open a hair salon in the refurbished building, providing services like hair extensions.

Three apartments upstairs are undergoing renovations, and two have already been rented. With entrances in front and at the back, the new tenants move in mid-September.

“We’re hoping to open the ground-floor businesses in late October in the unit on the west side, and expand to both units in the future,” said Richard.

Renovating the old building is a big job, but both men have experience in the building industry, with Richard providing most of the carpentry skills. Specialized work in plumbing and electrical work will be contracted out to tradesmen.

It is obvious even to an untrained eye that the building, which is estimated to be 80 to 100 years old, needs some serious work. “We had to jack up the back of the building about seven inches, and repair the entire back wall,” said Richard. “We removed the old siding, and put new siding on the back. The front of the building will be stucco—that’s coming next week.”

Why the former Ho Ho’s site for their new venture?

“The price was right, and it’s a prime location, and our wives were looking for something in the Pelham area to establish their businesses,” said Brad.

Is the old adage “happy wife, happy life” applicable in this renovation? “Absolutely,” the men responded with smiles.