Local restaurant owners give the Terminal new life

·5 min read

Aug. 26—Vacant since 2015, a new restaurant is returning to the Terminal Arcade building at Eighth Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute.

Cheyne and Nikki O'Laughlin, owners of Charlie's Pub & Grub, are starting a new restaurant called The Terminal Public House.

Charlie's Pub recently went through its own renovation.

"That is kind of ongoing, we like to always have something going on there," Cheyne O'Laughlin said of the pub at 1608 Crawford St. "We are hoping that translates over this way" to the Terminal. "With our leadership team at Charlie's and some of our staff, we know we can get the culture brought over this way and kind of grow it here as well."

The new restaurant is slated to open in November or December.

O'Laughlin anticipates the new restaurant will need about 25 employees.

"We wanted it to be a public house, which is like a pub, but is a meeting house with an emphasis on food and drinks. It is the average pub bar and grill. It will be open for all ages, as opposed to Charlie's. We are looking to have that available for downtown, to make sure that students and people visiting the downtown have a place that they can come and get a good meal and hopefully a drink," he said.

O'Laughlin said the new business "does want to capture as much as of the vintage feeling of the building. It is such a beautiful historic building. We were so fortunate when we took the walls down to find exposed brick, which no one knew was there. We were like, 'Holy cow, look at this. This is gorgeous,'" he said.

Additionally, a new bar is being made from a green tile found on the property.

"In the basement, from when it was the actual [transportation] terminal, there was all these very old glazed tile that lined the walls, and we found a cache of them, so we built the bar out of them," O'Laughlin said. "We figure they are about 100-year-old tile. The green is a little bit odd, but when you get the history of them, it is beautiful and really cool."

The space is about 4,500 feet when including the kitchen, O'Laughlin said. The restaurant will also have a room that seats about 25 people that can be used for parties or meetings, he said.

"We have been tinkering with this for a couple of months now," he said.

In an announcement about the restaurant Friday, Nikki O'Laughlin thanked the Terre Haute community "for all of their support of Charlie's, which we have had for the last eight years as owners. And the growth and support overall has been tremendous. It is exciting for Cheyne and I to continue to put roots down in Terre Haute and bring some of that culture and atmosphere from Charlie's to the Terminal," she said.

Cheyne O'Laughlin said The Terminal's social media sites and its website will go active later this week "and that will be the place to get notifications on progress of the building and announcements and things like hiring," he said.

Greg Gibson, who owns the building under Fontanet Holdings LLC, said the restaurant is a "new beginning for a long-time staple of our downtown landscape. With the help of Cheyne and Nikki O'Laughlin, the Terminal Arcade Building will soon have new life.

"This important historic building and community landmark was built in 1911 by the Terre Haute Traction and Light Co. It was originally used as a passenger station for our local street cars," Gibson said.

"The beautiful limestone facade makes the terminal a very special part of downtown Terre Haute. Our community certainly loves it," Gibson said, referring to a rumor that the building would be torn down during planning of the city's downtown convention center.

"That resulted in some very, very unpleasant comments and emails. Of course, I have become used to that," Gibson said. "With all seriousness, I am really very proud of my involvement in revitalization and preservation of downtown Terre Haute.

"Our progress has been pretty impressive but there is still a lot to do. The renovation of this special building, with the addition of a new mural, and the opening of a new business are all compelling steps for the continuing success of downtown Terre Haute," Gibson said.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said the city continues "to see investment in downtown, and Greg [Gibson] has been a huge catalyst. To save this building is just a perfect example of his investment leading to your investment (pointing to the O'Laughlins), which leads to other investment, so it keeps feeding on itself," the mayor said.

The mayor said the O'Laughlins "obviously know how to run a restaurant. It was exciting for me to know personally that you are involved with this because I know it will be done right," Bennett said.

Kristin Craig, president of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce which oversees the Downtown Terre Haute program, said the new distinctive restaurant "will continue this district's transformation into a cultural hub for visitors, students and residents."

The Terminal building has been vacant since 2015, when a previous restaurant — the Terminal Sports & Spirits — closed after 20 years of business.

The Terminal Arcade building at 820 Wabash Avenue was completed in 1911. It sheltered people of all walks of life during its early years as a terminal for electrically powered trains operated by the Terre Haute Traction and Light Co.

It served as a train station until 1948, when it became the city's bus terminal until 1972. After being vacant for some time, the Terminal Restaurant opened in the mid-1980s and was in business until 1991. In 1983, the Beaux-Arts building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com. Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.