The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 22, 2012

Top 10 of 2012 | New businesses find Richland real estate

Justin Dennis

— The Tribune-Democrat is counting down the top stories of 2012, as determined by voting by newsroom employees. One story will appear each day in print and e-editions between now and the end of the year. Readers can vote for their choice for the top story at


The Tribune-Democrat first reported details on new eateries coming to the city, a delight for Johnstowners who have become jaded by the lack of dine-out choices in town.

Darden Restaurants’ liquor license transfer request was OK’d by the Richland school board in November.

Now, unused land in Richland Township will be home to an Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse. The next closest locations are 45 and 40 miles, respectively.

Liquor Control Board statutes require that any license transfers to land adjacent to school district property must be approved by the school board.

Darden assured the board that only the two well-known franchises would be built on the land and, if either were sold, it wouldn’t be to a nightclub or a bar.

Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt, described as a self-serve yogurt shop where customers “grab a cup and fill it up,” is set to open next to Five Guys Burgers and Fries in the Richland Town Centre on March 1.

It was an opportunity that the franchise stumbled upon. Sweet Frog’s creamy confections are made with Galliker’s products. When a Galliker’s executive suggested a Johnstown location, the empty space in the Richland shopping plaza was viewed as a perfect opportunity.

Sharon-based chain Quaker Steak & Lube brought its combination of wings and wheels to the University Park Plaza in mid-September, making it the first location within 70 miles of Johnstown.

“We’re community-driven,” said Pete Haas, the restaurant’s general manager. “People have been ready for us – and we’re ready for them.”