Randall's Restaurant menu filled with Slovak favorites

| Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2009

PERRYOPOLIS -- The transition from computer programmer to restaurant manager came quickly for Tom Havadich.

The 44-year-old Belle Vernon resident was on vacation in New Jersey with his family 22 years ago, when his aunt and uncle, Helen and Randall Evans, of Belle Vernon, mentioned that the family restaurant would soon be up for sale.

Helen and Randall Evans had run Randall's Restaurant in Perry-opolis since the early 1950s.

"I was in Philadelphia, I worked for Mellon Bank and my sister was in Reading," Havadich said. "The whole family vacationed together and everybody was at the beach. My aunt and uncle mentioned that they were selling the restaurant. At that time, my dad got sick and I was coming back to see my dad so I told my sister, 'Why don't we buy the restaurant?'"

Havadich and his older sister, Beth Berkebile, a former music teacher, decided to become part-ners.

Berkebile financed the purchase of the restaurant and the siblings began running it as it had been for years.

The two Perryopolis natives had been visible at the restaurant since they were children.

"We pretty much grew up down here," Havadich said.

Shortly after they began running the restaurant, Havadich and Berkebile decided to make more room for the steady flow of customers that continued to frequent the popular eatery along Route 51.

In 1989, they expanded the kitchen and dining room areas.

What remained un-touched was the variety of home-cooked Slovak recipes originally featured at the restaurant by their grandmother, Anna Moxin, the quick service and the affordable meals that have long been staples at Randall's Restaurant.

"She pretty much cooked everything," Havadich said of Moxin. "We're a hunky family. Everybody could cook. My grandmother would make dinner for 20 people with one little four-burner and every-thing was hot.

"We kept the staples, the cabbage rolls and cream chicken. We have ham loaf. That's something we've added, and the Sunday specials. We've never changed. We've added but we've never taken off. Everything is made here. The only thing we bring in is the bread."

Referring to special orders, Havadich said, "We'll accommodate anything."

Havadich handles day-to-day operations and Berkebile takes care of finances.

The two split time running the restaurant.

Every Wednesday, they work together.

"There are a few nights we have a girl that works for us. But from Thursday through Sunday, one of us are here," Havadich said.

Havadich said he and his sister first thought they could run the business as a second job.

They quickly realized how demanding it was to run the busy business.

"It's just gotten to the point that it's tied up a lot of work," Havadich said. "I can be tough, but I don't mind it. I like coming in. I've met a lot of people. I can't go anywhere without know-ing someone.

"It's friendly. I know pretty much everybody that's in here. We're close with everybody."

Havadich said he is grateful for loyal customers.

"We have people that come in, have breakfast and then come back for dinner every day," he said. "The majority of our business comes from the Valley. Sometimes, people see cars outside, so they stop.

"We've really been lucky. We've been lucky with our help. A lot of these girls have been here longer than I have."

Local high school students working year-round contribute to the 40-employee work force.

"We're very flexible with the kids," Havadich said.

Berkebile's children, Sergey and Kayta, work at the business. Berkebile adopted them from Russia 15 years ago.

Havadich said they one day could take over the business.

The formula for sustained success at Randall's Restaurant is simple, Havadich said.

"I think it is quality and service. That's the two most important things," he said with a smile.

Randall's Restaurant is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

It can be reached at (724) 736-8995.

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