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Easter dinner cutbacks? Fat chance!

Record gas prices, bad economy fail to keep residents from buffet tables

March 24, 2008
By Walt Frank,
Record high gasoline prices and the slumping economy did not keep diners away from Easter Sunday buffets.

Large crowds enjoyed meals at dining spots such as the Ramada Altoona Conference Center, the Creekside Inn and The Calvin House.

The Ramada served more than twice the number of diners it served last Easter, said Dominick Catalfamo, executive chef.

“Last year, we served about 320 people; this year, we had about 575 reservations,” Catalfamo said. “The quality of our food has improved, and the people remember that.”

The $3.29 price for a gallon of gasoline did not deter Louise Craft of Hershey and Alice Trenun of Culpeper, Va., from dining at the Ramada.

Craft and her husband, Bert, came to visit their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter for Easter.

“When family is involved, you don’t let the price of gas get in the way; holidays are important for family,” Craft said.

Trenun made the trek to Altoona to enjoy Easter with Walter Smith, pastor of Abundant Life Assembly of God Church.

“He was our pastor in Culpeper,” Trenun said. “Gas or no gas, it doesn’t matter when you want to see loved ones. The price of gas didn’t matter at all, and I am not rich.”

Robert Hinton of Osterburg made the drive to Altoona to enjoy Easter dinner with friends.

“The price of gas does not matter for one day; this is something you do one time a year,” he said.

Numbers also were up from last year at The Calvin House in Duncansville, owner Denny Helsel said.

“The price of gas has not affected our business; holidays tend to be important for people to get together,” Helsel said. “People will make sacrifices in other areas instead of gas. Traditional holidays are important for families to get together.”

Ron Brumbaugh, owner of The Creekside Inn in East Freedom, also said the price of gasoline was not affecting his Easter business. Brumbaugh expected to serve about 400 diners.

The cool Easter weather is beneficial for the restaurant business.

“If the weather is nice and warm on Easter, people are out doing other things. This year, Easter is early, and with the weather not as good, they may not have anything else to do,” Brumbaugh said. “The bad weather is good for the restaurant business.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

Article Photos

(Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski)
Kay Adams of Cresson visits the fruit and dessert buffet Sunday afternoon at the Ramada Altoona Conference Center.

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