The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

March 27, 2013

Westwood DQ expanding: Modernized store will include indoor seating, hot food selections

Frank Sojak

JOHNSTOWN — A modernized and expanded Dairy Queen will soon replace the one that has stood at the corner of Lyter and Willett drives in the Westmont Shopping Center since the 1950s.

On Tuesday, the Lower Yoder Township Planning Commission gave its blessing for a Dairy Queen Grill and Chill to be built.

The new Dairy Queen will be twice the size of the existing one and will seat 50 customers. It also will serve hot food in addition to ice cream.

The new owners of the Westwood business are San and Stephanie Romano, and their son, Stephen, all of Richland Township.

“We’re really excited,” San Romano said. “I have had many people come up and ask me when is it going to open.”

He said they will be getting bids for the work and expect to have a contractor on the job in three weeks. He said they hope to have the new restaurant, which will include a drive-

thru window, in operation by June 1.

Stephen Romano likewise said he is excited about opening the restaurant, and so are the employees.

The Romanos will keep the dozen employees who worked for the previous owner, plus will need another 13 to 18 full- and part-time workers.

“I’m ready to get going on construction,” Stephen said.

The manager who worked for the previous owner, Sarah Faust, will manage the new restaurant, he said.

Faust said she and all the employees are ecstatic about the new restaurant.

“It’s a good day for the area,” she said.

“We needed a little bit of a change in that area.”

Faust said the hot food will include hamburgers, french fries and chicken baskets.

They also will have indoor ice cream cakes on display and for sale, she said.

Other flavors of ice cream cakes also will be available every day, she said.

San Romano, who owns AuntieAnne’s pretzels at The Galleria mall in Richland Township and elsewhere in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia, said they were interested in opening a Dairy Queen in western Pennsylvania. He said they looked at a number of them before settling on the one in Westwood.

The existing building was too antiquated to be remodeled, so the best move was to raze it and build a modern one that will serve customers year-round, he said.

Joseph Turturica, chairman of the Lower Yoder Township supervisors, said he is glad to see the project taking place.

“It will enhance that corner,” he said about the intersection.

The Romanos earlier had received the approval of the zoning officials, he said.

The planning commission’s approval was the last step that was needed for them, he said.

“It’s good to have businesses expanding in the township,” he said.

Mike Vitalie, chairman of the planning commission, said it’s always good to see improvements being made in the township.

“It will be good for people to have a new Dairy Queen that will be open all year-round,” he said.

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