The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 5, 2009

Dingbats closing, veterans store opening at Galleria

JOHNSTOWN — Business was not strong enough to keep Dingbats in business at The Galleria, but a veterans’ support program says the mall is an ideal location for its community re-entry workshop.

Dingbats opened in late 2007 at the Richland Township shopping center as the third location for the resurrected Pittsburgh-based restaurant chain.

Its closing leaves about two dozen people without jobs.

“It was not making the numbers we needed to make there,” said Eric Miles, chief financial officer for parent company Trinity Select Group LLC.

“We are not happy with it,” Miles continued. “There were a lot of good people there.

“The economy affected every aspect of the restaurant business,” he said. “It’s a tough time.”

Stephen Zamias of The Galleria management company, Zamias Services, said another restaurant operator is already looking at the location.

“We are just negotiating right now,” Zamias said. “We are going to try to get them open as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, GZ’s Used Books and Art, a program of Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center of Johnstown, will hold its grand opening from 2 to

4 p.m. today in space beside the closed restaurant.

The busy shopping mall provides a good opportunity for injured soldiers to re-enter the community by working in a retail store, said George Zitnay, the national program’s founder. Sorting and categorizing books, making sales and interacting with customers helps build cognitive skills, he said.

“It is part of their vocational training,” Zitnay said. “It also is going to be an opportunity for socialization and social skills development.”

The bookstore first opened in downtown Johnstown but is relocating to The Galleria because the larger space is being provided rent-free.

“The Zamias family has been very, very generous,” Zitnay said. “It serves as a community resource.”

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