Dining out an Easter tradition
By Russ O’Reilly
Betty Kimmel, whose 100th birthday is coming up in June, caught up with her friends Anna Mary Schefield of Huntingdon and Peggy Coleman of Altoona at the Altoona Grand Hotel on Sunday morning.
There, the three had the opportunity to talk, share news and enjoy an Easter dinner without having to prepare the food and wash the dishes.
They arrived at the hotel for the annual Easter buffet after Sunday morning church services, the trio said.
“It’s a nice place to spend the holiday,” Kimmel said.
While many families gather around the dining room table for a traditional Easter dinner, many others find that going out to eat is more convenient.
At the Grand Hotel, Kimmel and her friends were joined by hundreds of like-minded diners, as the tables in the banquet room were set for 550 people with reservations, said director of operations Lindsay Danella.
The food, including prime rib, ham, turkey and a plethora of sides, was prepared by a team of talented chefs, Danella said.
“The people come from all over. It’s been a tradition here since I was a kid,” she said. “It feels like one big family dining together.”
Makayla Plants is a student and resident assistant at Penn State Altoona and could not go home for the holiday so her family came to her and stayed at the hotel.
Makayla, her sister Mariah, 19, also a Penn State Altoona student, and their younger brother, Michael Jr., gathered with their parents, Misty and Michael Plants of Washington, Pa., to have Easter dinner together at the hotel for a second year.
“We enjoyed it so much last year. I
couldn’t cook food like that at home,” Misty said.
The scene played out everywhere — some large families, some small ones and some relaxed loners filled restaurants Easter Sunday, giving home cooks a break and giving a business boost to area eateries.
The line at Prime Sirloin Buffet in Duncansville stretched to the door, where the Gummo family waited to be seated.
“It’s an Easter tradition to come here. My aunt lives in Altoona, and we take her out to eat,” Edward Gummo Jr. said.
At the Dream Restaurant in Hollidaysburg, Jim and Theresa Harper waited with their son Connor, home from college, for more of their family members to arrive.
“We are expecting 11 to come from State College, Altoona, Huntingdon and York,” Theresa said.
The restaurant workers, including manager Amy Druckemiller, prepared for tables to fill and orders to be placed for baked ham, roast turkey or stuffed pork chops, and for dessert, pie.
“Easter is a big day for us,” she said. It’s second only to Mother’s Day, she said, which is just around the corner.
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.