Trail to see opening of new restaurant outside Sutersville
As bicyclists, joggers and walkers travel past the Yough Twister just outside Sutersville along the Great Allegheny Passage, a new café now complements the long-standing fixture selling ice cream.
Driscoll and Sons Café will open its doors for the first time Thursday (today) with a grand opening from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The restaurant, owned by Cynthia and Ray Driscoll of Elizabeth Township, started to take shape after Ray Driscoll retired from the steel industry in 2006.
“I've always been business-minded, I've always been motivated to do new things,” he said.
The Yough Twister, once a Tastee-Freez franchise, has been in the family for 40 years, operated by Ray's parents Ray and Patricia Driscoll before him.
Now also involved in the restaurant, the Driscolls' sons Jason, Justin and Josh urged the expansion of their parents' business after customers at the ice cream stand grew 20 percent when the trail section was completed in 1995.
The small business was also overrun with teenage fans when the film “Abduction” brought actor Taylor Lautner to the area, and featured the Yough Twister for a few seconds in the 2011 film.
With the help of the Greensburg-based Progress Fund, a community development lender, and the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center, the Driscolls secured a $245,000 loan from the fund and a $200,000 loan from a state tourism program.
“They want to stay connected to the community and make sure their family stays connected to the community,” said Karen Post, co-founder and chief financial officer of the Progress Fund.
The organization gave out 10 loans in 2012 with about six receiving funding assistance each year, Post said.
With cherry wood furniture, black granite tabletops and soft interior lighting, the new café can seat 50 in its 2,000-square-foot space, including a deck overlooking Douglas Run in Elizabeth Township.
Because of the stream, the restaurant sits on brick pylons to elevate it above the 100-year floodplain.
One of about 12 employees who will begin Thursday, chef Matt Stoyer worked with the Driscolls and chef consultant John Boemke of Buena Vista on the menu.
“We feel really confident with the chef we hired and the consultant we've been working with,” Cynthia Driscoll said. “We tried to do a little bit of everything.”
Boemke highlights the rosemary-seasoned roasted half-chicken, which includes the leg, thigh, wing and breast portion with roasted roma tomatoes and baby red potatoes.
“A lot of people want that comfort food feeling, they want to recognize something on the menu,” he said.
Details like whole wings and homemade fried mozzarella also follow that philosophy, but the café is also keeping trail travelers in mind.
Quick made-to-order deli subs and specials featuring a half-sandwich and cup of soup are featured on the lunch menu, as well as crudities, or fresh raw vegetables, for the health-conscious or on-the-go patrons.
Steaks, salads and fish dishes are also featured along with pasta and sandwiches.
Boemke, who has 25 years experience in the food industry, including two and a half at the Charles Court restaurant at the Broadmoor Hotel in Denver, plans to work at the café for one lunch and one dinner serving per week with the Driscolls and Stoyer.
“I just tried to help them in their decision-making,” he said, without forcing his own ideas on the owners.
After the first few months in business, the Driscolls may also add breakfast to their repertoire at the café, which will be open year-round while the Yough Twister will continue to operate seasonally with about 12 employees.
They both said years of experience have still not predicted every bump in the road, which leaves them anxious and nervous for the opening.
“The community all seems excited to know about it,” Cynthia Driscoll said. “I hope (reaction is) positive and everybody likes the food and atmosphere.”
Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 724-836-6660.