Friday, May 30, 2008

Return to General Pickett's Buffets - Gettysburg, PA

It has been a long time since I have written about General Pickett's Buffets in Gettysburg, Pa. (See September 7, 2005) I have been back there to eat since, but that has been about two years now. We were just in Gettysburg again - to see the new National Park Service museum. While we were there we just had to return to General Pickett's.

If you read or have read my original review of General Pickett's you will see that I liked this buffet. I still do. For the most part everything is the same. There were a few differences.

For one thing the price has gone up, BUT only by ONE dollar. The adult weekend dinner price is just $10.95. Compared to how much other Pennsylvania buffets have increase over the past very few years, this is remarkable. The soft drink price did almost double - from 80 cents to $1.50 but that is very reasonable these days - especially for refillable soft drinks. You are paying that or more at fast food restaurants. Pirces are the same seven nights a week. The lunch buffet also went up just one dollar to $6.95.

This is and has been an early close restaurant. While many buffets in Central and South Central Pennsylvania close at 8:00 pm this one closes at 7:30 and at 7:00 on Sundays. I did not remember this and we walked in on a Sunday night at 6:46 pm. I saw the sign and became concerned that we would not be seated. The hostess came over with a smile, asked if we would like a table or a booth and took us to our table with no mention of the time. Throughout the meal we were never rushed, we were not reminded of the time, and there was no asking if we were done with the hot foods so that they could close down the server. If I had not seen the sign I would never have known that they were near closing.

We were there on a Sunday night but this was a Monday holiday weekend. The restaurant had people dining but was near empty. This is probably because of the hour.

Menu items are very consistently the same here and most of the items that were there two and three years ago were there still. There were a few additions worthy of mention. There were three meat carvings instead of two. They were carving roast beef, ham, and a turkey breast. The carvings are kept under a heat lamp and are carved to your order with some extra slices left out if you wish to take some while the person carving is tending to a table - jobs seem to be shared here with serving staff moving about doing many things - which is fine. The meats were moist. The turkey could have been hotter. It was not cold but just warm. Some gravy that I added on top was also just warm. This surprised me because you could see the steam coming out from under the serving trays in the hot buffet serving table. Everything else was properly hot. The temperature of the meat was well within the safe range and the taste was fine. This very well may have been the result of the late time that we were there.

There were three soups - not two this time. One was a very good chicken noodles and the noodles tasted and had the texture of home made. There also was beef vegetable and ham and bean.

One of the entrees that I had not had here before was this restaurant's version of Pork and Sauerkraut. This is a local Amish dish of shredded pork cooked with and mixed into sauerkraut. Usually the taste is sharp with the vinegar of the saurerkraut. Here it was delightfully on the sweet side. The sauerkraut was sweetened and gave a wonderful flavor to the dish. The pork was finely shredded into the mix and while noticeably there as you ate it it was well blended in. I had to resist going back for a third serving - notice that I did not resist the second helping.

There was also fried talapia (fish) on the buffet. Talapia fillets are thin and this made for a wonderful fried fish dish. The fish was breaded in a corn meal and deep fried to a very crisp, almost chip - like a potato chip. Wonderful!

There was a macaroni and cheese side dish that looked so good I could not resist trying a little. (Mac and Cheese is a cholesterol no-no - don't tell.) It looked thick and gooey and a bit more orange in color that many mac and cheese dishes that I have seen and tried. The top was a crust of cheese. I scooped some out and the cheese pulled in strings from the server to my plate. Yum! It tasted as good as it looked. (Ah... if only to be young again and eat things like this without a second thought!)

The other side dishes and entrees were the same as I have seen and tried here before - and as I wrote about them in 2005. The mixed summer squash medley was good. The kernal corn was good. The carrots had a pleasant, mild sweetness. There was baked chicken, chicken nuggets, baked fish, seafood creole, baked potatoes, spaghetti and sauce, and other dishes.

They also still have the Barbecue Pork Spareribs. This is the closes that I have found to a barbecue buffet, as the spareribs are regularly on the buffet at dinner. They are well sauced and cooked to the fall off the bone state that I find to be what I like in pit barbecue style ribs. The barbecue sauce is on the slightly sweet side. When I first wrote about these ribs I said that they were the best that I have had at a buffet. I would not say that had I only had them this night. Don't get me wrong - they were good, but the meat was a little tough and the sauce a bit sweeter than I would prefer. My comment to the sauce is due to my current taste. The chewiness of the meat maybe due to the time that they were out before I got there late to eat them. They were still good. I did go back for a second helping - I would have preferred the meat to be more tender.

Baking here is very good. There is a corn bread here that is really good. There is a difference between cornbread in the North and in the South. In the North it is sweet and made with sugar in the recipe. In the South it is not sweet. This is Northern corn bread. Dessert selections are great with great cakes and pies. We both tried the chocolate cake and it was moist and light with good, and not overwhelming, chocolate taste.

Service here is excellent. I recognized just about all of the staff and it is a good thing when a restaurant can hold onto its staff over the years. Our server kept checking in with us and taking our dirty dishes away. She made sure that we got refills of our soft drinks.

Even with the late hour the buffet servers were well maintained. Nothing was dried out and the staff kept stirring and checking on the food. A few items were near the bottom but there were still good servings left in them and I would not expect them to fill them when they were about to close.

The restaurant still has a frequent diners card that gives you a free dinner after you purchase ten dinners . With the price as low as it is this is even more remarkable.

I still recommend that everyone go to General Pickett's Buffets. The general may have lost the battle across the road 145 years ago but the restaurant named for him is a winner!

The restaurant is located at is located at 571 Steinwehr Avenue. Their phone number is 717-334-7580. The restaurant now has a website which you will find linked at the side of this page.


Friday, May 23, 2008


It has been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. But that is not always true at some buffets. Not only can you get a free lunch but also a free dinner.

Did you know that many of the chain buffets are giving away free and discounted meals? Many of the chains are offering coupons on the internet that are emailed to you. Some have coupons on their websites. Here are some of the free and reduced price meals that you can get.

Old Country Buffet has a club that you can join on their website and also at the restaurant by filling in a form at the cashier. The club is free to join. Upon joining you will be emailed a coupon for a free meal. During the month of your birthday you will receive another coupon by email for a free meal during that month. Periodically you will receive other emails from OCB with other coupons. Just print them out and take them to any of the OCB owned or franchised restaurants and pay for your meal with the coupon. The most recent deal; has been a three coupon offer email for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at reduced prices when you buy a like dinner. Not only are these coupons good at Old Country Buffet but they are also good at Ryans and Fire Mountain.

Another chain that has a "club" is Souper Salads. You can read here about my great meal at one this past summer. Though none of these restaurants are local to me I joined the club to see what I would get. I wish I had one of these soup and salad buffets nearby because they email me great coupons for money off and free meals on a regular basis! If you are local to a Souper Salad this is one of the best coupon clubs of all.

Ponderosa has a club that will email you coupons, but at Ponderosa you must list a specific restaurant location when you join the on-line club. The coupons that you receive are only good at that location. Ponderosa is one of those odd chains that is supposed to be like the other buffet chain restaurants, but they feature their buffet more like a condiment to a menu ordered entree. They do frequently email special offers with coupons.

The Prime Sirloin Family Restaurants - a steak buffet chain - does not have an email club but they do have coupons on their website. The offers change every so often. Currently the coupon is for a free beverage with the buffet.

Souplantation/ Sweet Tomatoes chain has a club on their website called Club Veg. Join this club and you will receive emails with special promotions, coupons, and special member only event invitations.

There are offers from non-chain buffets as well. The Oregon Dairy restaurant has a club called "Gold Card Promotions". You present your card when you dine and you will receive free meals after so many meals are purchased along with offers good in the supermarket that this restaurant is attached to.

The Family Cupboard in Pennsylvania also has a card that you can apply for at the cashier. The card is free and when you present your card when you pay for your dinners you receive a coupon for $10 off a meal with every $100 that you spend. If you frequent this restaurant that is not a hard thing to achieve.

Many local buffets, especially in tourist areas, will offer coupons in local newspapers and papers and magazines focused on the tourists that visit the area. This is especially true in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area where you can find coupons for almost every buffet that is located there. There are frequently coupons for Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant, Yoders, Millers Smorgasbord, and others. Here is a LINK that will get you printable coupons for several of the buffet restaurants in Lancaster, PA. Shady Maple never has coupons but they always give you a free dinner on your birthday - just prove it.

With buffet prices rapidly increasing along with everything else, every little bit saved and every meal that you can get for free is a big deal. So join all the clubs - even if the restaurant is not local to you. You never know when you will be heading near one - and you just might be lucky enough to get a coupon in your email.

If you know of any other special offers, comment and share them with us!

Friday, May 16, 2008


We went to my not so favorite Old Country Buffet on a Saturday for lunch. Those of you who have read this site know that this particular OCB is in Levittown, NY. I have expressed a lot of opinions about this Old Country Buffet restaurant - most of them not so good. I have been there for lunch before, but during this lunch I was seeing things that I had not seen before - things for the better. I was actually thinking good things about the restaurant - at least for their lunch service. But then - almost at the end of the meal something happened. Something so bad that all my good thoughts flew out the door - as anyone who witnessed this with me should have.

Now, I am going to save that tidbit for the end of this article. I am going to start by writing the article that I had intended to write as we got about half way through the meal.

In the past I have made comment about this location of OCB's overall cleanliness, management problems, and its failure to keep their food trays filled and refilled - at least with equal category items (entree for entree - not rolls for entree). These problems were not evident that Saturday afternoon. The floors were not spotless, but better than they have been. There were actually four managers on duty and their presence was evident in the dining room. One of the managers (the infamous one - read past articles to know why) was actually moving from table to table with a tray of cinnamon buns asking diners if all was well - and did they need anything. Remarkable! I must say that I have been back since at night for dinner during the week and the this manager was doing the same thing! Excellent move in the right direction! Perhaps someone at OCB is paying attention to what I am writing. (Actually, I am pretty certain that someone at OCB does read this site, based on some comments that have been made on articles.) As to the buffet - well, all of the trays were refilled with the same item as they needed to be.

I must say that there was a remarkable difference at this location between lunch and dinner - yes, like the difference between night and day. We had a very enjoyable lunch.

You do see some strange people there - both at lunch and dinner, but that is no reflection on the restaurant. Yet, you do see some strange people. Many of you will remember the "napkin man" that I wrote about some time ago. He is not back. He has disappeared from all restaurants that he was spotted at, but I did see on that afternoon a "napkin lady". This lady covered the table in napkins - and covered all of the plates that the gentleman with her placed on the table as she sat and waited for him to collect their food. After each course, all of the napkins were replaced with new napkins - all of them. This OCB must attract OCD. Many years ago Bill Cosby had a comedy routine on an album - the routine was about the New York City subways and it was called, "A Nut in Every Car". For some reason this came to my mind that afternoon.

So the meal was pleasant. My good wife told me that she was going to the ladies room before we left and I waited at the table. Had we just left when we finished dessert this would have been a very different article. I would not have witnessed what I am about to tell you and I would have ignorantly gone away happy. But ahh... I didn't leave. I got to observe.

I was seated at a table close to the salad bar. A woman at one side of the salad bar started yelling out a child who was at the other side of the salad bar. I believe that they were related - but I am not certain of that. The woman was yelling, "Stop that!" and "Don't do that!". And rightly so because she then said to a companion - loud enough for many to hear - that the child had taken something from the salad bar, put it in her mouth, and then she SPIT it back into the serving bowl! Now, this woman did not stop with scolding this child - she correctly got hold of an employee - a woman who may have been one of the cashiers, but seemed to be walking around the buffet servers in a supervising capacity. The woman told this employee the entire story and told her that she needed to remove that serving bowl from the salad bar! The employee listened to the woman - seemed to understand what she was being told (not always a given here as many of the employees speak marginal English) - and the employee calmed the woman. BUT, did she go to the serving bowl that was pointed out to her? NO! Just then one of the managers walked by and this same employee stopped him and spoke with him. I could not hear what was said, but I thought to myself, well ok, she is getting his help to take the serving bowl away. NO! That did not happen either. Whether she told him what happened or not, he walked away and then she walked away. The serving bowl with the SPIT food in it - still there and diners moving about the salad bar were serving themselves from it. I was disgusted. Here I was about to write the "be nice" article about this OCB and then the worst thing that can happen at a buffet happens - no manager or employee responds when told that someone SPIT in the serving tray!

Should there be a new rule? "Don't spit in the serving trays." Gee, I hope we do not have to stoop that low. A friend recently commented to me after reading the Rules of the Buffet that they are mostly common sense. Well, of course they are! But apparently too many people are lacking in common sense these days. How sad!

Well, there you have it. Overall, this OCB is better at lunch than it is at dinner. HOWEVER, management and the employee are guilty of the ultimate no-no at any buffet - ignoring that someone SPIT in the server! The Board of Health would have shut the place down on the spot had they been called!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Cozy Restaurant, Thurmont, Maryland

Sometimes the going and the returning is as much of an adventure as the restaurant. My trip to and from the Cozy Restaurant is no reflection on the restaurant – in fact as you will soon read, I loved the restaurant. The trip to get to the restaurant and to get back to where I was staying was quite something. If you are going to go to the Cozy Restaurant and you are near Thurmont it is quite easy to get to, however, I went there from Hagerstown, Maryland.

I will talk about the trip first and then get on to the important focus of this article which is the restaurant. There is an expression – “as the crow flies” – well, our trip to the Cozy would have been simple if we were crows. We had no indication of what was in store for us when we consulted the computer map and set the route into our laptop computer GPS. The roads appeared twisty on the map – had we looked at a topographical map we would have seen the mountains that we were going to ride up, around, and down. The directions were simple. We did not get lost (as we have at times before), What we found as we got deep into country roads was the water falls and mountain state park that we had to get through. We climbed up roads that turned quickly right, and then left, and then right again. There were large warning signs at the side of the road about the hazardous turns that stretched for four miles. One turn made a complete right angle. All of this on one lane each way roads with a line of cars behind me that thought that the speed limit signs were just suggestions. It was uncomfortable driving but it was in daylight with clear visibility of what was ahead. I kept thinking that coming back, this would be much more of a nightmare in the dark. I told my good wife to check the laptop’s map software and find an alternative way back – if there was one.

The return trip could be made on two highways, but would make a trip of about 25 miles into a trip of about 45 or 50 miles. Fine – worth it, but when we left the Cozy it was heavily pouring rain. We still would be driving over and through mountains, but on a high speed interstate with blinding rain and at one point patches of clouds – yes, clouds – not fog – that had settled in spots on the road, just visible ahead in the vehicle’s headlights. If you have not figured it out yet, I do not like driving at night in heavy rain. I want to be able to drive at a good, but safe speed that other drivers do not necessarily agree with. Sure, they drive these roads all of the time – they know that it will turn this way and that. I, to quote a probably forgotten science fiction novel, am a stranger in a strange land. Well, white knuckled and a little shaky, I made it back to write all of this for you.

So, now that I have gotten all of that out of my system, I can now concentrate on this restaurant. The Cozy Restaurant is very famous – but probably none of you will have ever heard of it, unless you are or have been a President of the United States, or one of his cabinet or advisors, or if you are support staff to leaders of countries since World War II. The Cozy Restaurant is also an Inn (hotel) and has been in business since 1929. It is located in the town of Thurmont at the foot of the mountains - specifically those mountains that I had to drive over. Thurmont is also the location of Camp David. The country retreat of all American presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to now, In fact it is at the Cozy that the President’s advisors and support staff have stayed – and dined. It is at the Cozy that the delegations and support staff of foreign dignitaries and world leaders have stayed during Peace Summits. And the Cozy has a BUFFET!

I learned about the Cozy from one of my readers, Brian – who also told me about the Lighthouse Restaurant (see last week). I love hearing from my readers and I especially love getting buffer suggestions and recommendations. I thank him for telling me about these two – but especially about this one. My good wife said to say thank you from her too!

From what I could see of Thurmont it appears to be a quite and quaint town. Almost next door to the Cozy is the second location of the Mountain Gate Restaurant and Buffet. I have written several times about that restaurant’s other location in Pennsylvania. The Cozy is actually a complex of buildings with the restaurant and another building with the Inn (which may actually be connected somewhere. As you see the restaurant from the road there is a bright red neon sign beckoning you into the parking lot. At one end of the building a railroad caboose is sticking out. When you enter the restaurant building you are entering a labyrinth of hallways – styled as streets with store false store fronts along the way – with signs directing you to the restaurant. As you make a turn you come to the Camp David Museum, which is free to enter. It is a room with memorabilia, pictures, and news stories about Camp David – and its connection to the Cozy. We saved the museum tour for the end of dinner. We also passed the Camp David Souvenir shop which we should have gone into first because it was closed when we finished dinner. This is the closest that the average person will come to Camp David- as it is strictly off limits to all. All of the décor is quaint and out of the ordinary. Rustic and fun. Window cases along the way show pictures and memorabilia of famous guests of the hotel and those who have dined there. Names like Babe Ruth jumped out. The same family has owned this restaurant and inn since it opened in 1929 and now is under the guidance of the third generation. We came to a podium and told the gentleman that we were a party of two and we were escorted into the dining room where the buffet servers were located. The size of this restaurant is deceptive as there was at least one other large dining room adjacent to where we were seated – and there were several banquet rooms near the entrance that we came in.

The dining room is rustic with wood plank ceilings, rough hewn beams across those planks, pleasantly quaint decorations strung around. I was immediately reminded of restaurants in small mountain towns that I dined in with my family when we vacationed when I was a little boy – and I am talking about quite some time ago. I loved it. The buffet servers were off to one end of the dining room that we were in. We were there on a Saturday night. The restaurant was not crowded but there were people there – and there was a second room with diners there as well.

The restaurant has the buffet and a menu to choose from. We, of course, had the buffet. The buffet prices were at the back of the menu and we only had the menus for a few moments before the waitress came over, took our soft drink orders, and then pleasantly collected the menus when we said that we were having the buffet. I got a brief look at the prices and not long enough to accurately tell you what they are because what I immediately saw is that they change every two nights. Monday and Tuesday is Pasta Night. I am pretty sure that the menu said $10.99. Wednesday and Thursday are Steak and Shrimp Night and I think that the menu said $11.99. Friday and Saturday are the Land and Sea buffet and the price (definitely) is $15.99. There is a Sunday buffet with ten entrees – I do not know the price. With the exception of Friday and Saturday I may be wrong about the prices. Soft drinks are $1.98 each and they are refilled by the waitress. They serve Coca Cola products. The ice tea was fresh brewed and excellent.

I started with the soup and there were two choices – Land and Sea. One was vegetable beef and the other was creamy white clam chowder. I tried the chowder and it is very good. Next to the two soup tureens, which are located in a small alcove at the side of the room, were several choices of fresh breads and rolls. The cinnamon bread was calling to me and I had to cut myself a slice from the loaf. It was sweet, soft and had a great aroma. Next to the bread on the third wall of the alcove were fresh cut up fruits and the fixings for Caesar salad.

There were three double buffet servers (two of them hot) in the center of the room, a counter on the side opposite the alcove, and a carving station on the end wall. The salad bar had a large bowl of lettuce and many toppings and dressing. There was also a full section of prepared salads. On this night this included a shrimp salad that was great with large pieces of shrimp blended into shell pasta and dressing. There was excellent chicken salad. I tried sweet pickle slices that tasted freshly made – very probably at the restaurant.

At the carving station there was a tray of cold steamed shrimp cooked in Old Bay Seasoning. Next to that there was a tray of cold sliced deli-style ham. The shrimp was good. My wife tried the ham and she say that it was tasty and not like ham that you would buy at the deli counter for sandwiches.

The selections of entrees both land and sea are plentiful. There was a lot for those who love seafood and for those who do not. There were baby steamed clams, there were mussels, there were fried oysters, fried butterfly shrimp, clams casino, two seafood in pasta dishes, steamed crayfish (which were smaller than I have ever seen – the nickname in the South for these is bugs and these really looked like bugs), a dish they called Mediterranean Tilapia which was very different and good, lobster orzo, crab Norfolk, baked salmon, catfish, crab au gratin, and much more. I must say that though the crab dishes were tasty they did not use real crab but it was definitely the crabmeat substitute, It was not labeled as such and was labeled as crab. On the “land” side of the choices there was carved turkey breast, carved beef that was a small round of rare beef that was nicely charred on the outside and pink red on the inside - it was very good, fried chicken that was excellent, barbecued pork ribs, and more.

There were equally many side dishes and vegetables including kernel corn, string beans, carrots, mixed vegetables, broccoli, mashed potatoes with bits of red potato skin, kale, baked potatoes, rice, macaroni and cheese, and more. The carrots and the mixed vegetables had some type of sweetener on them. The carrots were sweeter than the mixed vegetables. They were nice but if you want plain, pick some of the other vegetable choices.

Deserts were along the side wall and there were several fancy cakes, pies including pecan, chocolate, coconut cream, and a selection of sugar free pies, there were puddings, jello, fresh fruit, and there was a soft serve machine in the middle of the wall, but it was labeled as a cholesterol-free, non-dairy vanilla soft serve. There was a nice selection of desserts. Some of the cakes were labeled as “special” including one that was a Mexican wedding cake with nuts.

All of the food was good. There was nothing that I tried that I did not like and I took a small sampling of a large variety of items. My picky wife was happy too! We thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere of this real “country” restaurant.

All of the staff were very friendly and accommodating. Empty dishes were picked up regularly. Drinks were constantly refilled when needed. The entire restaurant was very clean and the waitress was cleaning the carpeted floor when she was not waiting on tables. There is an effort being made here to make sure that you are having a good experience. There was a paper on the table saying to tell them immediately if you want anything or are not satisfied, claiming that they will make you happy. When the check was brought to the table – after we completed desert – there was a satisfaction survey printed on the bottom for you to complete, if you wish. They go all out to make sure that everything is good.

I only wish that it was not raining when we left and the ride home was a pleasant as the meal. I strongly recommend the Cozy. Do go there. Avoid driving through the mountain park. The Cozy is located at 103 Frederick Road in Thurmont Maryland. This is about 20 miles from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on street Route 15, as opposed to Interstate 15, and 50 miles from Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. The hours of the restaurant are 11:00 am to 9:00 pm and weekend from 8:00 to 9:00 pm. The phone number is 301-271-7373. There is a website and it is linked at the side of this page.

Friday, May 02, 2008


This restaurant was referred to me by one of my readers, Brian. If you have been reading this site for some time I have mentioned that I travel to Hagerstown, Maryland once each year and when I come I am always looking for buffets to try. This restaurant is just across the Maryland border into Pennsylvania about 30 miles from Hagerstown – and is right along the route that I take traveling south. I was so happy when Brian emailed and told me not only about this buffet but also another that I hope to also try this trip.

The Family Traditions Lighthouse is a large restaurant in a rural area. The restaurant has both menu and buffet dining and the building also accommodates a banquet facility separate from the restaurant. The restaurant was easy to find and the outside is unmistakable because there is a large lighthouse on the entrance end of the building. We arrived on a Thursday night at the end of April and the parking lot was almost empty. We wondered for a moment if the restaurant was open. Another car parked and went inside. We followed. The building and the entrance way are very plain outside and the lobby followed suit. A sign next to the cashier station said “Seat Yourself” and we did. There is a large dining room and another dining room off to the side that is down a few steps. There were people dining inside and while we were there business was steady with people coming in.

There is a blackboard in the lobby with the buffet prices. Monday to Thursday and Saturdays this is a very reasonably priced restaurant. Fridays are another story. The dinner price Monday to Thursday is $9.95. Saturday dinner is $10.95. Sundays the restaurant closes at 3:00 pm and dinner is served for $10.95. Friday is seafood night and the price is $18.95! If you would like to add unlimited crab legs to the Friday night buffet the price is $29.95! Wow! I am sure that you will be getting a lot of fish but this is more than the best seafood buffets that I have been to in large metro areas. And basically, here we are inland and a distance from the sea. Soft drinks with refills are $1.59. Lunch on Monday to Thursday is $7.95. Saturday breakfast buffet is $5.95. There are children’s prices – under three is free but the sign was erased where it listed ages four to ten.

When we sat a very nice waitress came over and asked what we liked to drink. She did not offer menus – though a sign mentioned menu dining – and she told us to go up and help ourselves. There are signs scattered around the buffet servers that say to take a clean plate each time and to help all children at the buffet.

The buffet servers were situated at the front end of the dining room. There were two sets of half sized servers – one set hot and one set cold. There was a dessert counter along one wall and at the opposite side was a large, double, hot buffet server. As usual I started with the soup choices – there were two – one was cheeseburger soup and the other vegetable beef. I did not try the cheeseburger – a thick cheese soup with chopped meat (a cardiologist’s nightmare). I did try the vegetable beef. The soup was full of vegetables and well cooked beef. The soup was VERY spicy – not the usual vegetable beef soup that I expected. It was not bad, but if you do not like hot and spicy it is not for you. (Many of the meat items in sauces were spicy.) The soup shares a server with the two hot dessert items.

There is a salad bar with a nice assortment of salad toppings and dressings. There were also several prepared salads – the basics – cole slaw, potato salad, and macaroni salad. There was a bean salad and several fresh and canned fruits. There was also apple sauce and apple butter. Dessert puddings were here too.

There was a good assortment of entrees and side dishes on the hot entrée server. Next to the soup and hot desserts there is another half server with more hot entrees. There were meat dishes and fish. Entree dishes included grilled chicken medallions in a sauce, medallions of beef, sausage and peppers in tomato sauce, a large ham on the bone that was being carved, broiled scrod, good and crunchy fried chicken, stuffed chicken breasts, fried shrimp, and white meat turkey that was shredded. There were two types of potatoes – mashed and boiled potatoes. There was kernel corn, string beans, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti in tomato sauce, deep fried onion pieces, corn fritters, stuffing, and both beef and turkey gravy among other selections. There was plenty to choose from. The fried chicken was better than most. The sausage was good and I wished they had more of it to bring out when it was gone – obviously others thought it was good as well. The ham was very good. The mashed potatoes were fresh and creamy. The macaroni and cheese was nicely thick. They claim that their selections change daily and that they introduce new items to the buffet every week. On their website they say to give them suggestions for dishes to add to the buffet.

Trays were checked by staff, stirred, refilled, replaced, and checked for temperature continually. This is probably the best tended buffet that I have been to. The staff took well care of that buffet! When the sausage and peppers were empty they took the tray away and replaced it with fried clams. When anything else emptied or was low it was replaced with the same item. Remember that I said that there were no many dining here this evening – but they kept replacing trays of food. Even twenty minutes before closing they were still stirring and tending the hot server.

Desserts were not extensive but there it was not hard to find something. There was a hot berry cobbler and hot French toast sticks – deep fried sticks of French toast. There was an assortment of pies, cookies, and very large chocolate brownies. There is no ice cream (not necessary, but their website claims “soft ice cream”). There is also the fruit and puddings at the salad bar.

The décor of the restaurant is pleasant – a nautical theme on all of the walls. The lighting fixtures hanging throughout the dining room all had bulbs out – not missing, but out. At first we thought this might be to conserve electricity or for mood, but they were too erratically out. The room was lit enough. The tables and chairs are plain and adequate – nothing fancy. This is a family restaurant and not a fancy restaurant (which is why the Friday prices surprise me so much). The entire restaurant was clean.

The Family Tradition Lighthouse restaurant was good. It was not spectacular but sometimes you do no need spectacular as long as you get a nice meal and we certainly had a nice meal. Would I drive out of my way to come back – maybe not, but I certainly would come back if I were in the area. I can recommend that you try this buffet, but unless you want to spend a lot of money do not come on a Friday night. Every other night the value is excellent and the quality of the food is as well.

A history of the restaurant says that the Lighthouse restaurant has been opened for thirty years but has been taken over by a husband and wife who have reopened it as the Family Traditions Lighthouse. No date is given as to when this happened. They state that they are making many changes for the better. As I do not know what it was like before I cannot comment. What they are doingm from my experience, is working.

The Family Traditions Lighthouse Restaurant is located at 4301 Philadelphia Avenue, Route 11 North, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. The phone number is 717-263-4878. There is a website and there is a link at the side of this page. If you look on the website you will also see that Gospel concerts are given by locally known groups in the banquet hall on scheduled nights. This should not interfere with the restaurant as that area is well separated.


Have you noticed? We are now offering Buffet tee shirts. There is a picture and link at the side of this page.

These are quality tee shirts that are available in a wide range of sizes and this shirt is offered in a variety of colors. The shirt may be purchased as a regular style short sleeve tee, a v-neck tee, a long sleeve tee, and fitted, frilly tee for girls and ladies.

Wear this tee to your favorite buffet and everyone will know that you are a buffet pro! This will definitely turn heads.

The company selling these shirts is making the shirts using my design with my cooperation. They are getting most of the purchase price. This company is known for quality work.

What would you like your buffet tee shirt to say? Let me know with an email (my contact link is at the side of the page). If it is good I will design a shirt with it!