The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 22, 2012

Quaker Steak & Lube coming to Richland Township

JOHNSTOWN — A Sharon-based chain is spreading its wings into Johnstown.

Quaker Steak & Lube, famous for its fried chicken wings, sauces and hot-rod theme - has landed a location in the University Park Plaza on Scalp Ave.

And if all goes well, they’ll be open for business sometime in June, according to Ray Joll, whose Joll Enterprises franchise operates many of the company’s western Pennsylvania restaurants.

“We’ve been working on this for a long time so we’re excited to be getting something up in that area,” said Joll, noting his architects were submitting building permit applications this week to get started.

As planned, the Quaker Steak & Lube would move into sites formerly occupied by Blockbuster Video and state Rep. Bryan Barbin’s district office.

At 5,300 square feet, its a bit smaller than the restaurant chain’s typical concept - but will boast a sprawling 28-seat bar and total seating for up to 200, Joll said.

And it’ll sport plenty of the muscle car and chopper-themed memorabilia that has become a Quaker Steak trademark, he added.

“Part of what makes us stand out is that “Wow” factor,” Joll said. “You’ll see bikes hanging from the ceiling. Gas station stuff everywhere.”

Then there’s the wings.

“We’ve got the best wings in the country. We won that title years ago,” Joll added, noting its just among a list of items featured.

Quaker Steak & Lube’s menu shows the bar and grill offers original, boneless and grilled wings tossed in 21 sauces like Louisiana Lickers, Buckeye BBQ and triple atomic.

There are salads, burgers and other sandwiches, too.

The restaurant was founded in 1974 inside an abandoned gas station as a “cook-your-own steak” shop.

Its hot rod theme was a hit - but the then-new “buffalo wing” concept of frying wings and topping them with spicy sauces became the signature dish, the company’s Website shows.

In the decades that followed, the chain has spread from northwestern Pa to dozens of locations in 16 states - and another in Toronto, Canada.

Joll’s Johnstown location will be Quaker Steak & Lube’s 11th in Pennsylvania - but the only one within nearly 70 miles of Johnstown - the closest, being in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

Joll hopes to get work underway in April on the Richland location.

He expects it will be a 12-week project.

It’s one of several moves in the works for the plaza, Zamias Services officials said this week.

Zamias’ Executive Vice-President Perry Russ said they believe Quaker Steak & Lube’s addition “will be a game-changer” for its University Park Plaza.

“This is a restaurant that has been requested by a lot of people in the market,” Russ added. “I think it will be very successful here.”

He noted the restaurant carries a promotion and event-heavy formula designed to draw crowds.

“There will be bike nights, car cruises - all kinds of events,” Joll added.

Russ said part of the deal bringing Quaker Steak to the University Park Plaza will also plant new signage on the site - and replace the rusting skeleton of a decades-old former one at the main entrance.

Meanwhile, groundwork for a 6,000 square-foot, super-sized Sheetz convenience store and gas station is already underway.

The former Chi Chi’s, most recently a Cozumel restaurant, was leveled last month to make it happen.

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