Old Canal Inn receives new owner

HOLLIDAYSBURG – A Hollidaysburg landmark soon will take on a new look.

“It will be a family style restaurant and eatery, not a hangout. We will have a family restaurant where you can have a cocktail or a soda,” said Lance Laratonda, who recently purchased The Old Canal Inn restaurant from Jeanne Heinbaugh and Sara Zolna for $385,000.

A $160,000 loan from the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission aided Laratonda with the purchase.

He said he will take over operations as soon as the liquor license transfer is approved by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.

The Old Canal Inn remains in business during the transition.

Laratonda, who has been in the restaurant business for 43 years – in 1992 he and his brother, Brian, bought the Capitol Hotel from their parents on an article of agreement – is excited about taking over the Old Canal Inn, opened by Bill and Josephine Nidetch (Heinbaugh and Zolna’s parents) in 1957.

“Personally, I am humbled to have the opportunity to buy the Old Canal Inn,” Laratonda said. “I am lucky I will be the one to put it back on the map again.”

The Old Canal Inn, which had been managed by Heinbaugh’s son, Alex, since 2009, had only been serving food three days a week for the last year or so. Laratonda said full-time food service will return.

“It will be open seven days a week, with two specials every day, with some of the exact same specials as they used to have, and I will have a few surprises of my own too,” Laratonda said.

Main Street Manager Jamie Baser is pleased with Laratonda’s plans.

“I think that is a great idea. I believe a family style restaurant will do well there. The Laratondas have been great business owners. They are model type business owners, and I am happy to see them take on a new project,” Baser said.

The Old Canal Inn was best known for its haddock fish fry on Friday, and it also had ham pot pie on Tuesdays.

“We will serve homestyle food, things like fresh turkey, roast beef and stuffed chicken breasts,” Laratonda said.

Business hours will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Laratonda said he has two cooks lined up and is the process of hiring a staff of about 20, full- and part-time employees.

As part of the transaction to purchase the Old Canal Inn, Brian Laratonda will purchase Lance Laratonda’s interest in the Capitol Hotel for $175,000.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.