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King George Inn Auction 'Like a Death in the Family'

Restaurateurs, antique-store owners and collectors gather Monday for a chance to bid on everything from dishes to the actual bar at the King George Inn auction.


King George Inn owner Cliff McDermott likened Monday's auction of the former restaurant's contents to a death in the family.

Parked cars overflowed into the roads surrounding the historic restaurant, and everything was for sale -- from the cups and saucers to the bar and fixtures.

"This auction is kind of like the viewing part where all your relatives and friends from around the country come," McDermott said. "You don't think about it much right now, but tomorrow, when everyone is gone and the place is empty, it will hit you that you're by yourself."

For 42 years, he owned and operated the inn, built in 1756. In August he abruptly closed the restaurant, at 3141 Hamilton Blvd., South Whitehall -- leaving a note on the door that read: We're sorry. The King George Inn is now closed for business. Thank you for your patronage the past 42 years.

Dressed in a suit and tie, McDermott was still the consummate host during the auction -- answering questions about memorabilia and helping move things around the room. While walking through the kitchen, he dodged men hauling heavy kitchen equipment out the back door and wondered aloud who was watching to make sure everything was paid for.

"If it doesn't all sell, I don't know what I'll do with it," McDermott said.

Sandra Johnson, owner of Weil Clocks & Antiques in Allentown, was there for antiques but also because she was curious.

"I think I would have been here no matter what," Johnson said. "I ate here a couple times, and it's just really neat and it's local."

Many of the items for auction were one-of-a-kind and rich in history. A lot of people were interested in the art and posters, and some could be heard whispering their approval as they inspected labels on the bottoms of plates. But there were also a lot of buyers there for the big items like professional coffee makers, commercial shelving and other kitchen and bar equipment. 

There was even a concession stand set up in the parking lot by the auctioneer, The Kist Auction Company, for folks who wanted lunch or coffee.

Shopper Tim Nagle, of Allentown, said at one point in time he used to come to the restaurant a couple times a week. On Monday, he was looking for items he could use in the bar he has in his basement.

The King George Inn has been designated a National Historic Site by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

McDermott said he has some offers but none he's seriously considered. He said they were from developers looking to buy the place and hold it long enough to sell it for a profit. 

The land surrounding the inn was purchased in June by Hotel Hamilton LLC, where a Burger King and video store once operated. The real estate company that handled the transaction said the land will be banked for now but that a hotel is likely to be constructed on the site.

The stretch of Hamilton Boulevard where the restaurant sits has seen much recent activity. In addition to the Hotel Hamilton purchase, a new three-story medical office building is rising on Hamilton Boulevard, next door to Cali Burrito. Also in the block, another small office building will be constructed at the site of a former miniature golf business. 

Also, jeweler Charles Paul Gem Designs closed after decades at the corner of Hamilton and Cedar Crest boulevards. No plans have been announced for that site.

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