Ray and Cynthia Driscoll of Elizabeth Township like to keep business all in the family. For the past 22 years, they have overseen The Yough Twister, an ice cream stand and former Tastee Freez franchise that has been in the family for 40 years, initially run by Mr. Driscoll's parents, Ray and Patricia Driscoll.
In keeping with family tradition, Ray and Cynthia Driscoll opened Driscoll and Sons Café with their grown sons in March in Elizabeth Township.
The cafe has been years in the making, with the plans beginning when The Yough Twister saw a 20 percent increase in sales after a portion of the nearby Great Allegheny Passage was completed in 1995.
The casual atmosphere of the cafe, which is 100 yards off the Youghiogheny River Trail North, ensures bikers and walkers can easily go from trail to table.
The 2,000-square-foot café, which seats 50 in its 1,000-square-foot dining area, is behind the ice cream stand and has an outside deck that overlooks Douglas Run.
Mr. Driscoll said his initial idea was to add on to the ice cream shop, but after consulting with an architect and engineer, he decided it was more practical to build a separate restaurant.
"I'm glad we did. One business feeds off the other," he said.
With the help of the Greensburg-based Progress Fund, a community development lender, and the University of Pittsburgh Small Business Development Center, the Driscolls secured a $245,000 loan from the fund and a $200,000 loan from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's First Industries Fund.
Mr. Driscoll also solicited the help of family members to get the business up and running.
A contractor cousin, Fran Driscoll of White Oak, built the restaurant. Sons Jason and Josh Driscoll work the kitchen line, and son Justin Driscoll is responsible for maintenance. Daughter-in-law Larissa Driscoll, who is married to Jason, came up with the name for the cafe.
Working in the family business is nothing new for the brothers: they each started working in the ice cream shop when they were 9 years old.
Mr. Driscoll described the fare as American classic. Lunch options include classic Reuben and turkey Devonshire sandwiches, and the biggest sellers on the dinner menu are fettuccine Alfredo, shrimp scampi, eggplant parmigiana, pecan salmon, chicken Marsala and New York strip steak.
Mr. Driscoll said plans are in the works to serve breakfast as well. The Driscolls also are looking into obtaining a liquor license so that patrons may bring their own alcohol.
Cynthia Driscoll said feedback from the community has been positive and the family café is drawing from all demographics.
"We're pulling from all different communities," she said. "We're seeing people we've never seen at the ice cream store."
Mr. Driscoll said running the business is entirely different from his previous job as an overhead crane operator for U.S. Steel Irvin Works in Dravosburg, from which he retired after 20 years. He also has held a life insurance and securities license for 28 years.
A self-described people person, Mr. Driscoll said he enjoys seeing those from the local community each day. Working with family members has been interesting, he said.
"Working with family is a little bit different than hiring ... but we all enjoy it."
Driscoll and Sons Café is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. It is closed Mondays.
Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.