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Kennywood plans to add sit-down restaurant to park

| Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, 11:28 a.m.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Kennywood amusement park in West Mifflin is adding a Johnny Rockets restaurant to its list of attractions in the coming year. The full-service eatery will be located in the park’s old carousel building.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Workers are rebuilding the interior of the old carousel building at Kennywood in preparation for the opening of a Johnny Rockets restaurant in the facility this spring.

News got out last week that Kennywood amusement park in West Mifflin is adding a Johnny Rockets restaurant to its list of attractions this year.

The full-service sit-down restaurant featuring burgers, fries and shakes will be located in the park's venerable carousel building.

It will be the first franchise chain restaurant in the park's history.

Park spokesman Jeff Filicko said word of plans spread a little more quickly than he expected when he mentioned it at a gathering for roller coaster enthusiasts last week in Eastern Pennsylvania.

The idea was to generate a buzz in advance of making an official announcement next week.

“It's just kind of blown up from there,” said Filicko, who noted the mention quickly turned into a news item thanks to bloggers and other social media users who were at the event.

“It's a little different experience for our guests compared to what they're used to,” Filicko said.

He said Johnny Rockets will be the only eatery in the park with waiters and servers, unlike the Parkside Café, which has a cafeteria-style service.

The new restaurant will replace a food court in the carousel building, which dates to 1898 and originally housed a merry-go-round.

The park will own and operate the franchise.

Filicko said he thinks Johnny Rockets will be a good fit for the park because of its 1950s-style motif and entertaining atmosphere. It's standard practice for wait staff to periodically part from their regular duties to break into song and dance every half hour or so.

Johnny Rockets opened its first restaurant in Los Angeles in 1986 and is based in Aliso Viejo, Calif.

According to its corporate website, the chain has about 300 corporate and franchise-owned restaurants in 30 states and 16 countries, including Six Flags amusement parks and on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Kennywood hopes to have the restaurant open by the time the park begins its daily operation schedule in the spring.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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