The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

April 21, 2013

Tasting success: Son’s prompting leads mother to open West Taylor Twp. diner

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — Amelia Vatavuk has her family to thank for her jumping into a venture she had always dreamed about.

Her vision came true Feb. 28 when she opened Vatavuk’s Diner, 498 Cooper Ave. in West Taylor Township.

The dream started to come to life when she was bringing her son, Adam, 25, home for Christmas from the Pittsburgh airport. As they were driving along Cooper Avenue,

Route 403, they noticed a

For Lease sign in the window

of the former Cernic’s Pit Stop diner.

Adam told his mother to take the chance and chase her dream just as she had urged him to do a few months earlier when he moved to Colorado to follow his dream of working on luxury cars.

She took his advice with the rest of her family helping her to remodel the diner.

Her children Zachary, Jacob, Erica and Stephanie also work at the diner. The other cooks and servers are Christine Adams, Zachary Thomas, R.J. Sorchilla and Jayne Hanuska.

Her late father, Ed, and Ed Cernic Sr., father of the former owner of the diner, were good friends with her father eating breakfast and lunch at the Cernic’s Pit Stop every day.

“I dedicated a table to him,” she said, adding that photographs of her father and the remainder of the family cover the tabletop.

Vatavuk’s mother, Abby, now comes every day to eat, she said.

The restaurant, which seats 50 people, has a dinner special each day.

Seafood is the special of the day on Fridays with fish, crab cakes and shrimp on the menu.

Vatavuk placed the seafood specials on the menu for Lent but the dinners proved to be so popular that they have become a Friday staple.

“All of our food is prepared from fresh ingredients,” she said.

“Our fresh hand-packed hamburgers are our top sellers.”

Other favorites are hot roast beef and Philadelphia steak sandwiches, tacos and salads topped with grilled chicken and steak, she said.

“If it wasn’t for my children and my faithful customers, I couldn’t have done it,” Vatavuk said about getting the business started.

“The whole neighborhood has been really good. They gave us a warm welcome.”

Rick McPherson, a customer from West Taylor, said Vatavuk is a fabulous cook.

“It’s home cooking and family oriented,” he said.

Terry Caldwell of Southmont, who was eating at the restaurant with her friend, Jodie Dill of West Taylor, said the baked goods are great.

“I love it,” she said about

the restaurant. “It’s spacious, and they cook to your satisfaction.”

Dill said one of her favorite items is the stromboli.

“Huge isn’t the word for it,” she said.

In addition to the service being great, all the food is homemade, she said.

Ed Cernic Sr., a longtime businessman, said all the businessmen he has taken to the restaurant have been pleased with their food.

“She brings an asset to our community,” he said about having a nice restaurant to serve residents.

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