The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

September 18, 2013

New restaurant’s cuisine to have ‘comfort food’ flavor

David Hurst

JOHNSTOWN — Fall usually signals the end for barbecue season in Johnstown.

Not anymore, Tom Rohde says.

The Johnstown area man plans to open Rohde’s Roadhouse BBQ next week in Asiago’s former Bel Air Plaza home in Geistown.

And inside the restaurant’s rustic walls, the aroma of slow-smoked barbecued ribs, pulled pork and beef will soon fill the air, Rohde said.

“We’re going to be a full-service, seven-days-a-week barbecue,” said Rohde, who hopes to fill what he calls a culinary void in the Johnstown area.

“It’s comfort food. It’s what makes cookouts and tailgating special. We want to give people a chance to enjoy it without having to put in all the hard work at home.”

Rohde and his family have spent the past month working to give the restaurant a roadhouse look.  

Asiago’s crisp white Mediterranean design has been replaced by wood panels and window shutters for a “down-home” look.

Rohde says a wagon wheel will be converted into a chandelier.

It’ll match the menu, he added. BBQ staples like homemade chili with corn bread and barbecued chicken will join other traditional items like ribs and pulled chicken, he said.

Homemade baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw, as well as fresh-cut fries and chips also will be offered as sides.

Rohde says he and his future son-in-law, Mitchell Hill, will be behind the restaurant’s smoker and grill, fixing up dishes “the way grandma used to make them.”

Through their partnership with Shananagan’s and the site’s owners, the McQuaide family, they will also serve beer at the eatery.

arbecue items will be available at the adjacent bar, as well as Shananagan’s wings and other menu items in their restaurant, he added.

The family restaurant will initially employ 10 to 15, he said, including his wife, Leann, who will handle the restaurant’s service side.

The restaurant seats up to 51 people.

Rohde said he expects to have a soft opening Tuesday and then roll out delivery service and other offerings in the weeks to follow. An Oct. 5 grand opening is planned.

He is also planning special events for the warmer months, such as outdoor barbecues and tailgates on Shananagan’s patio.

“This is a dream come true for me,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to have a restaurant of my own, and to be able to partner with an established entity like this one, everything is just falling into place.”

A restaurant website is still in the works but the eatery already has a Facebook presence under the Rohde’s Roadhouse BBQ name.

David Hurst covers Richland Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @tddavidhurst.