LUCINDA, Pa. (EYT) – While the Wayside Inn in Lucinda recently changed hands, few changes have been made to the historical landmark.
(PICTURED, left to right: owners Jake, Nicole, and Mike Maholtz, staff member Elaine Sheatz, and Chef Henry Castillo.)
Nicole Maholtz, her husband Mike, and their son Jake aren’t strangers to the local restaurant industry in our region, as they have owned and operated The Forest Nook, a seasonal restaurant in Cooksburg, for a number years.
“What lured us in was the community,” Nicole told CookForest.com.
The Maholtz family had been living in South Carolina, and were rooted there, but the draw of western Pennsylvania was strong. Nicole’s mother purchased The Forest Nook, and her family took over the restaurant after her mother’s death five years ago.
The Maholtz family wasn’t in the market for a second restaurant, but their interest was sparked when regular customers at The Forest Nook urged them to look at the Wayside Inn, which was for sale.
“Jake and I came and looked at it, and I fell in love with it because it was so charming,” Nicole said.
While Nicole and Jake were won over, she noted she wasn’t sure how Mike would feel about it.
“He’s a contractor, so he looks at plumbing and electricity, while I look at charm. But, he came up and looked at it, and we all just kind of fell in love with it, and we moved here in a manner of days.”
The history of the building was another major draw for the family.
“We want to preserve the history and the integrity of the building,” she noted. “There’s a lot of neat stories that the community has been sharing.”
While the building itself dates back to 1873, it has seen a number of different owners and businesses over the years – from a speakeasy during the prohibition era, to a dance hall in the basement, to its current popular restaurant status.
The Maholtz family officially took over on December 16, and although they have a few changes planned, for the most part, they would like to keep things the same.
“At first, we were going to come in and do this and that, but now that we’ve been here, we kind of like it. We might get new windows, but really, we’re just looking at making some small improvements,” Nicole said.
“That’s the main thing: we’re not going to make a lot of major changes, we’re just going to tweak some little stuff,” Mike added.
The change of management has gone very well so far, according to Nicole.
“I think it’s been incredible,” Nicole added.
“The staff have been very receptive and welcoming of us and have helped out tremendously, and we really have been very welcomed by the community, as well.”
Most of the staff, including Chef Henry Castillo, who has been with the restaurant for nine years, have stayed on.
Chef Castillo agreed with Nicole that the transition has gone well.
“We didn’t have to shut down at all. It transferred over nice and easy, and we kept with the flow of things,” Castillo said.
While the have simplified the menu slightly, they mainly give Castillo room to make the decisions in terms of food, Nicole noted.
“He features two or three different items every week, besides the full regular menu. He does a very good job, and we just support him.”
The main menu offers a variety of dishes from pasta and seafood to a number of steak options, and recent featured items have ranged from Drunken Shrimp over Linguine to Salmon Wellington.
One change the family has made is to bring the restaurant into the internet age by creating an updated website with the menu and photos, as well as a place to make reservations online. They’ve also added take-out as an option, and update their Facebook page regularly with information about the featured items.
“We want to have more platforms available for people,” Nicole noted.
She also noted that they are currently looking into the possibility of offering private events in the future.
“We’re just looking at all of our options.”
Currently, the restaurant is open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and while they welcome walk-ins, reservations are recommended, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We have customers that drive an hour and a half to come here, and we don’t want them to make that drive and find that we can’t accommodate them,” Nicole said.
“It’s just recommended, especially if you’re driving this time of year,” Mike added.