EBENSBURG - The Polchito family proudly operates under an alias - not that they don't find honor in their own surname.
But the "Kosta's" name has been good to them. And they've been good to it. Ebensburg-area residents have been meeting and eating at Kosta's for more than 30 years.
"Kosta is Greek for Gus," said Rick Polchito, who with his wife, Jayne, owns Kosta's Restaurant at the corner of Mini Mall and New Germany roads just outside Ebensburg.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Kosta’s Restaurant owner Rick Polchito poses with his mother, Mary Frances.
Mirror photo by Ellen Coyle
Family members working at Kosta’s include (from left) Nick, Christine, Jayne and Curt Polchito.
In 1981, Gus Tsikalas opened a coffee shop at the same location with Rick's mother at the helm. The following February, Rick's parents, Mary and the late Tony Polchito, bought the restaurant and kept the name.
It has always been a family affair. Rick and Jayne bought the restaurant from his parents in 1990. In 1992, they expanded the 24-seat coffee shop to just less than 200 seats, including a 60-seat banquet room. The couple's two sons, Nick and Curt, also work in the restaurant. So do Nick's wife, Christine, and Curt's girlfriend, Tanya Charles.
Rick and Jayne's four grandchildren - ages 10, 8, 6 and 5 - help out. "They know how to do a lot of things by watching us," Rick said.
Behind the Plates
Address: Mini Mall Road, Ebensburg,
when driving west on Route 22, turn left at the
traffic light after the new Sheetz on the left and McDonald's on the right
Phone number: 472-8883
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kostas-Restaurant/82771568195?fref=ts
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Price range: $1.99 to $14.99
Specialties: Stuffed omelets, panko-breaded haddock on Fridays
"Good food, fast service and a friendly atmosphere - that's our motto," he said. The restaurant's mantra is on the front its 15-inch-high, five-page menu.
"We specialize in home cooking," he said.
Rick, Nick and Curt divvy the food preparation with five other chefs. He and his sons also share in "keeping our recipes, which were passed down to me. Everything's in the mind. Nothing's written down."
While Rick helped his son, Curt, and new cook Levi Primel in the kitchen, a waitress hustled a sizzling burger platter with fries to a waiting table. A stuffed omelet, one of the restaurant's specialties, quickly followed.
Along with all manner of wake-up foods, breakfast fare includes the "2 x 2 x 2," described as two small hotcakes or two Texas French toasts with two eggs and two strips of bacon or two sausage links.
The menu holds something for every taste. Wings and wing dings vie for attention alongside homemade soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, grilled paninis and wraps.
All the comfort foods are here: steaks, chicken dinners, meatloaf, liver and onions, and Italian favorites such as veal Parmigiana.
Monday's dinner special is pasta, with a beef, pork or chicken special each Tuesday through Thursday. Friday is fish day. Sunday features an all-day breakfast.
There's a kiddie menu and a limited array of choices "for the smaller appetite."
Along with pies, Kosta's tempts its customers with cobblers, gobs, apple dumplings, cinnamon rolls and ice cream.
Folks get more than just down-home cooking at Kosta's. Fast service is part of the deal. So is genuine friendliness. Rick likes to visit each table and ask how the food is. A conversation begins and soon, if the diner isn't already, a regular is born.
Paul Ferguson and James Morgan, both of Ebensburg, sat down separately at nearby stools last week. Not long after being served coffee, they started talking.
"Everything's good here," said Ferguson, a breakfast regular.
"I've known the owner since childhood," he said.
"You used to play hide-and-seek together," Morgan chimed in.
"That's right," Ferguson said. "They're great people. Do a lot for the community."
Morgan, another breakfast regular, pointed to the stools and joked "We rent these out."
Rick Polchito said he most enjoys talking with the customers.
"I'm semi-retired," he said.
"I'm about 60 hours a week," he added with a laugh.