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JoJo's Place keeps home cooking on menu

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By Rege Behe
Thursday, March 8, 2012
 

JoJo's Place Family Restaurant doesn't wow patrons with its decor. Its location on Steubenville Pike, near Hankey Farms (but listed in Oakdale), is a bit off the beaten path. There's no Internet access, no fancy lattes, no music in the background to set the mood.

But, each morning, patrons find their way to the cozy establishment where owner JoAnn Keene seems to know everyone by name. Keene waits tables when the restaurant opens at 6 a.m. until her mother comes in 90 minutes later. She then fills in as cook or as hostess, dancing between tables, greeting longtime customers and making sure new patrons are comfortable.

"When we say family-run restaurant, we really mean it," Keene says, noting that her daughter, sister, sister-in-law, niece and son also work at JoJo's. "They're the ones that make this possible."

Keene was hand-picked to take over the restaurant by the previous owners seven years ago after she had worked as a waitress at a Denny's Restaurant for 29 years. She didn't change much, only tweaking the menu and adding her versions of daily specials.

"We just love the idea of home-cooked food," Keene says, referring to the stuffed cabbage, Sloppy Joes, stuffed peppers and soups served intermittently.

Because JoJo's is only open from 6 a.m until 2 p.m., breakfast is the most popular meal. And the most popular item on the menu is the home fries ($1.69), seasoned just right and slightly crispy.

"We're known for our home fries," Keene says.

Those home fries accompany many selections on the breakfast menu: the three-egg omelets, ranging from the Very Veggie (onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms topped with melted cheddar cheese, $5.79) to the Meatlover's (bacon, sausage, ham, also with Cheddar cheese, $6.59); the Keene Supreme ($6.59), three eggs scrambled with onions, peppers, cheddar cheese, bacon and sausage; or the Mr. JoJo ($5.09), a sandwich with one egg, four bacon strips or two sausage patties, lettuce, tomato, onion and American cheese.

If eggs aren't your thing, options include Pappy's French Toast ($4.09) or Mar's Belgian Waffle ($4.09).

While breakfast is JoJo's primary attraction, Keene doesn't dismiss the lunch crowd. Besides the daily specials, the restaurant offers a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads and soups. Notable are Daddy's Big Boy ($5.49), a 6-ounce Angus beef patty served with grilled onions, bacon, American cheese and a special sauce; The Butkus ($5.39), a breaded, deep-fried chicken breast smothered with Buffalo sauce and served with lettuce and tomato; and the tuna melt ($5.09), featuring homemade tuna salad, American cheese, lettuce and tomato served on grilled white bread.

Additional Information:

JoJo's Family Place Restaurant

Location: 7194 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale

Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays

Details: 412-788-1700

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