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John's Grill opens in New Florence

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Alice White | for the Ligonie Echo
Chef John Matrunics and his wife, Carla, fire up the outdoor grills to prepare their signature barbecue pork ribs.

A familiar roadside soft-serve ice cream spot once known to the locals as “Bigginz” along Route 711 North toward New Florence has a new name and new owners.

At John's Grill, the menu offering is also new.

For starters, there's a barbecue selection offered daily by Chef John Matrunics, who is quick to tell you he makes his own rubs, secret sauces and fires everything from chicken, pork ribs and (soon to be added to the daily offerings) brisket and pork shoulder.

There's family history behind what's fired up Matrunics over his love of cooking. As a young child, he said he watched his father cook and artistically make inspiring dishes. This greatly influenced him to experiment with food and develop a passion for it at an early age.

He also credits another influence with his particular love of barbecue, that being, New York Times bestselling author and chef-owner of six fine-dining restaurants Bobby Flay. Flay's newest cookbook titled “Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addition.”

When Matrunics and his wife, Carla, of Bradenville, saw that the “Bigginz” locale was for sale they went for it.

“This was the best opportunity I had to start,” Matrunics said. “I always wanted to open a restaurant since I was around 19 or 20 as I love to cook. While my signature dish is barbecue I am always trying to reinvent different things such as my buffalo chicken egg rolls.”

The Matrunics, both graduates of Ligonier Valley High School in the early '90s, have three children; a son, John Jr.,19, and two daughters; Morgan, 6, and Megan, 4.

“It's a stretch of my time between home, the sitter and helping at the restaurant, but it's worth it for John to finally have his dream come true,” Carla Matrunics said.

The menu at John's Grill has a great selection of comfort foods — pizza, burgers, hoagies, salads, wings, sandwiches and appetizers.

Matrunic's barbecues are offered daily from his outdoor Char-Broil smoker grills.

There's a fun selection of kid-friendly foods on the menu in addition to the traditional soft-serve cones, specialties and sundaes.

John's Grill is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The kitchen closes at 8 p.m., soft-serve ice cream is available until 9 p.m.

Alice White is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.