When a restaurant that has become an institution in its community changes hands, its customers are filled with questions.
Will the new owners keep favorite dishes on the menu? Will the food taste the same? Will the atmosphere be the same? Will there be new items, and will they be good? Change is just downright unsettling.
Fans of the Sugar Shack in Altoona need not worry. After 25 years, Duane Seiberling decided to put the business up for sale, and it was purchased by Mark Poulos. My dining companion and I had lunch there recently to see what, if anything had changed.
The ’50s diner theme has remained intact. Checkerboard floor, red vinyl, chrome and a soda fountain — they’re all there.
And the menu is still classic American short order fare — burgers, hot sandwiches, deli sandwiches, onion rings, fries and ice cream treats including a variety of tempting sundaes and parfaits.
What’s new is breakfast. Omelets, bacon, sausage, chicken-fried steak, pancakes and country potatoes and more are all available.
Alas, we were too late for breakfast, so we looked over the lunch menu. My companion ordered a gyro ($6.99) and I chose the chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy ($7.25).
My companion was well pleased with his gyro. The strips of lamb were cooked nicely and not too spicy. The pita was soft and there were plenty of onions and tomato.
My lunch hit the spot as well. I was impressed that everything on the plate was hot as well as tasty. Lukewarm gravy just isn’t very appealing. Knowing it’s good, basic food at a decent price, I may have to come back for breakfast.
Poulo’s Sugar Shack
100 Eighth St. S.E.
Hours: Sunday: 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mon. – Sat.: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.