Want to grab a Cubano at Press bistro? Or how about some lobster mac and cheese at RJ’s Café & Lounge on Main? Or maybe a submarine sandwich at Rocco’s? Or start your day with a pick-me-up latte from Flood City Cafe?
A little more than a year ago, none of those options existed for diners in downtown Johnstown.
Quickly, though, they have become popular destinations.
“We kind of picked Johnstown as our place to come to to open a restaurant, having looked around at a lot of the Laurel Highlands region,” said Jeremy Shearer, who co-owns Press with his wife, Jen. “We like the town. We like the people. We saw a good opportunity for growth in the tourism economy and in the hospitality segment here.”
City officials and other organizations worked together to help bring those restaurants to downtown.
An emphasis was placed on trying to appeal to younger business owners and customers.
“I feel like a lot of the younger generation will want to see the cultural business district rejuvenated,” said Josh Summits, the city’s economic development coordinator.
Robert Layo, the Greater Johnstown/Cambria County Chamber of Commerce’s president and CEO, added, “I think we need to stress entrepreneurialism and provide opportunities for young people and really anyone who wants to start a business.”
Press, RJ’s, Rocco’s and Flood City have joined a collection of diverse restaurants and bars in the downtown region. There is fine dining at Harrigan’s Cafe & Wine Deck, sundowners at Coney Island, Chinese food at Szechuan Restaurant, $5 footlongs at Subway, healthy fare at Memorial Medical Center’s Lee Campus cafeteria, tacos at Scott’s By Dam, seafood at The Fish Boat and torpedoes at Em’s Original Sub Shop, along with Italian cuisine at Gallina’s Pizza & Restaurant, Capri Pizza and Tower of Pizza, and drinks at By George Inn, Point Pub, Joe’s Place and Lucille’s.
Many factors have contributed to the success of those businesses.
“What I contribute mine to is quality food and a good personality. ... We keep our prices at a place that people can afford. We want people to come here,” said Scott McLachlan, owner of Scott’s By Dam.
Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Dave_Sutor.
New eating options
New restaurants in downtown Johnstown:
Press: Serves paninis, wraps and homemade potato chips.
RJ’s Café & Lounge on Main: A sophisticated menu with duck confit, diver scallops and pistachio-crusted lamb rack.
Rocco’s: Offers two dozen types of sandwiches, along with soups and salads.
Flood City Cafe: Sells grab-and-go coffees and sit-down meals.