Friday, June 20, 2008


So many choices... I will bet that you are thinking that I am referring to the many food choices found at a buffet. I am actually referring to the number of buffet and all you care to eat restaurants that there are in Central Pennsylvania.

Before I left on a recent trip I mentally planned my meals over the course of the four days. There were many choices to decide upon. Two definites were Shady Maple Smorgasbord (of course) and Yoders. For the two other dinners I had a decision to make and my decision was to decide when I got there. To be prepared I sought out and printed coupons for several of the restaurants thanks to the link that I provided to you in my article a few weeks ago. A few things that I knew was that this was Memorial Day weekend and Shady Maple is closed on Memorial Day - one of the four days in the year that it is closed. Many restaurants in this area are closed on Sundays as it is a population of Amish and Mennonites. Shady Maple would need to be Saturday night. While Friday night was also a possibility there is a larger selection of seafood and my wife does not care for it. I figured Yoders for Monday night - a nice send off to the end of the weekend when I leaving for home. This left Friday night and Sunday night - and Sunday night was limited for the reason that I have stated.

We arrived mid-afternoon, checked into our bargain motel, and headed over to a farmers market that is a great Friday's entertainment (if you like that type of thing - we do). As it came along to dinner time the Friday decision was getting close. It was then that the title of the article first came to my mind. There were so many choices.

I have been asked by the management of the Harvest View Restaurant to return and give them another try. I have reviewed the restaurant under its current management twice in the past two years. Both times things were not good. Recently, my articles came their attention and the kitchen manager contacted this site by email. He seemed to have taken the criticisms that I had as constructive and stated his case that there have been some major changes and if I gave them another try I would come away with a different opinion. I wrote back that I would - but of course, I would not say when and they would not know I had there until I wrote the third review. I had in mind that sometime during this trip I would get there. I looked at their new website and saw the Friday menu - this menu was boasted to me by the manager and it is impressive. It is a Seafood Feast. Again, I will say that seafood and my wife are not a good mix. There were some non-seafood selections on the menu, but Friday would not be the night to go there.

Two good buffets came to mind for Friday night. The Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant or The Family Cupboard Restaurant. Both have been reviewed here in several articles. The one thing about the Bird-in-Hand Restaurant is the price during tourist season. They are known to bump the price a bit in the 0n-season months - and sometimes lower it back down during the off months. This was Memorial Day weekend and even though I had a $2.00 off coupon, The Bird-in-Hand Restaurant could be way out there in price. The Family Cupboard was looking better and better. It is a good restaurant with a consistent menu and lower prices. This was my choice - I should say our choice, because I did ask my wife her opinion.

The Family Cupboard was as good as always and the price was just $12.99 per adult. Soft drinks with refills are $1.50. The whole bill came to $30 with tax. Food choices here are pretty much the same every night. Their rotisserie chicken is very good; their fried chicken is good. There is also beef, ham, meat loaf (or ham loaf), baked fish, fried shrimp and other selections. They no longer have a soft serve ice cream machine. I read about why in a very friendly newsletter that this restaurant sends out. It seems that in the State of Pennsylvania in addition to all of the other restaurant permits that you must have and maintain, you also need a special permit to have a soft serve ice cream machine. The machine was breaking down and the decision was made not to replace it but to get an ice cream freezer chest and fill it with hard ice cream from a local dairy. There are a number of flavors and you scoop it yourself! The Family Cupboard was a good decision. They also offer a club card that you can get at the cashier that will give you $10 off a meal for every $100 that you spend. This is easily earned in just a few trips. One thing to note is that the software that they use to keep track of your spending to earn your $10 is a little odd and you can be half way into the next $100 before it processes and prints out your $10 coupon for you to use. No worry though because you will get it, you just need a little patience.

One of the objects of this trip was to spend a leisurely weekend. We seem to be in this area more on more doing business on trips that before would have just been mini-vacations. There was no business planned and we spent Saturday as it came visiting the sites that we would frequent in our tourist days. When we are eating buffet for dinner we very rarely will have a buffet lunch. That really can become just too much. We went for lunch to The Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant which besides being a buffet is also a good family "off the menu" restaurant. We got to Bird-in-Hand early afternoon and there was a twenty minute wait to get in. We were not having buffet, but I could not help but see the sign with the LUNCH BUFFET price. I almost fell over. The lunch buffet on Saturday is $13.29. This price was not just because it was Memorial Day weekend as it was printed inside the menu too. The buffet here is nice - lunch and dinner - but it is no way a value at $13.29 at lunch. During the week the lunch buffet is $10.29.

I know that there is a reason for higher prices right now. With gasoline prices well over $4.00 a gallon and truck diesel at over $5.00 a gallon, food costs much more to travel to get to the suppliers and then be trucked again to the restaurants. There are flour shortages and rice shortages. Milk prices are up. Everything is going crazy - but some restaurants are still holding to affordable prices. This area of Pennsylvania relies heavily on its tourist industry. The tourists are scrimping to be able to find a week or just a weekend of relief from their year of working hard. They are deterred by the gas prices that they must pay to get to the area - and this area is a driving area with miles of country roads between attractions. Hotel and motel prices are way up this year too. With the restaurants increasing their prices also it will not be long before people say that they cannot afford to take thier family of two or three kids and pay for two days what once was not too long ago a two week vacation. And with that these businesses will not survive.

Ok so enough preaching. I took a look at the dinner buffet price and that is up too at $17.29 and $14.99 during the week. There are coupons on the Internet and in tourist newspapers that are given away free so make sure you find some and save $2 off each meal - which still is too high on Saturday.


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