Two area restaurants close

PINECROFT – Two more local restaurants have closed their doors.

LaScalia’s Restaurant, 117 Sabbath Rest Road near the Pinecroft interchange of Interstate 99, closed for business on Saturday, said Jeff S. Long, who along with his wife, Vikki, own the building.

The Hooters Restaurant in the Park Hills Plaza also has closed. Hooters opened in Altoona in October 2002, and Jeff Haas was listed as the owner at that time. The building is available for lease. A call to corporate headquarters was not returned.

The family-style LaScalia’s had been open since August 2005.

“It seemed we could never get to the place I was happy with. I thought we had a good product and good prices, but we couldn’t turn a profit,” Long said. “Business was steady but not enough to pay the bills.”

The restaurant employed about 25 full- and part-time workers.

“It was a real tough decision. Those people had been with me for a long time. They were like family,” Long said.

He said one of the reasons he built and opened the restaurant at the location was because there was talk of a Walmart to be built near the intersection of Sabbath Rest Road and Business Route 220.

Plans for the project were unveiled in 2006, but it never came to fruition.

Long said he recently obtained a liquor license but decided not to get into the “business of owning a bar.”

The December opening of Marzoni’s Brick Oven and Brewing Co. in the former Burgi’s Roundhouse Bar & Grille site at 1830 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd. also played a role in the decision to close.

“The day Marzoni’s opened, we saw our numbers drop,” Long said.

Joe Hurd, president and CEO of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, was disappointed to hear of the closing.

“It is always disappointing anytime a business in Blair County closes. In this economy, it is difficult for hospitality businesses to survive when people seem to be eating out less often,” Hurd said. “I am surprised. I thought LaScalia’s was a nice restaurant, and I hadn’t heard anything but good comments from people who frequented it. I had nothing but great experiences when I went there.”

Long said he hopes to find another tenant for the 8,400-square-foot building, or he might sell it.

Other recent restaurant closings include the U.S. Hotel in Hollidaysburg, Ponderosa Steak House in the Park Hills Plaza; The Pizza Factory, 328 Logan Blvd.; and Tapatio Mexican Restaurant and Grill at Howard Avenue and Fourth Street.